Understanding the emotions of bankruptcy


How do you get past the emotions of bankruptcy which are holding you back? Making a decision and then sticking with the decision despite adversity is hard. If it wasn’t hard, life would be easy. One of the most difficult decisions to make is the decision to file for bankruptcy. It’s difficult for many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons that make it hard is what we think about ourselves. I often wonder: why is that the case?


I think it’s because we have taught our ourselves that we can’t admit that we need help. That we are supposed to be independent and be a millionaire by age 19 1/2. And since we realize that we haven’t achieved that unrealistic goal, we feel like by making a decision to file for bankruptcy we are admitting that we are a failure because we are admitting that we can’t pay our bills. This is what society teaches us. Our society says that you aren’t supposed to admit that you can’t pay your bills. Society says that if you do file bankruptcy and by default admit that you can’t pay your bills, you’re admitting that you are a failure. When I was considering filing, I remember feeling like I was being looked down upon because I thought about bankruptcy. I remember worrying that I wouldn’t be able to get student loans if I filed for bankruptcy and I would therefore never be about to obtain a college degree. This was not true. You can get student loans after bankruptcy. I did get them. Even though I knew it was true that I could get student loans, I still worried that I wouldn’t be able to get one. It’s funny the mind games we play on ourselves. I look back and now realize that the mind game I was playing wasn’t trying to help me move forward in life, it was intentionally holding me back. The emotions I felt were intentionally keeping me trapped in a vicious cycle of debt for which there was simply no way for me to get out. In other words, the worry I felt about being a “loser” was making me one. How’s that for a mind twist?


I remember the shame I felt about considering it. Here’s what’s funny: I felt no shame afterwards. All of the shame I felt about bankruptcy was before I actually filed for bankruptcy. What I didn’t realize was that this shame wasn’t being projected at me by others, but was being reflected by me by myself. That’s an important point and I hope you understand it because it can make the difference between living a good life and staying in a perpetual cycle of misery. We all have preconceived notions or ideas of what we think is right and what we think is wrong. Our attitudes about filing for bankruptcy are no exception to this rule. Some of our ideas are nurtured and some aren’t. The feeling of wanting to repay a debt isn’t a bad emotion. But, when we let that emotion take over ourselves and start to let it control our lives, causing us to feel hopeless, that’s when we’ve let it go too far. One of the hardest lessons to learn when growing up is that there aren’t that many people that really care about us. Most people out there are just living their lives. They don’t think about us at all. They don’t think about you and they don’t think about me. They think about themselves. So when we let the emotion of “feeling like a loser” dictate how we respond to severe adversity like overwhelming debt, we aren’t really letting what others think about us control us; instead, we we are letting what we think others think about us control us. In other words, we are letting our own preconceived notions rob us of our happiness, peace of mind, and sense of dignity.


In many ways, us “debtors” are no different than an alcoholic or smoker who finally admits that he has a problem and can’t quit. We fight our inner self and sense of self-worth because we feel that we aren’t living up to our own expectations. In other words, the shame we feel about bankruptcy isn’t about what others think about us, it’s what we think about ourselves.


How do you get past the feeling of guilt and shame?


You must first recognize it for what it is. An emotion run amok that is now negatively controlling your life and preventing you from achieving happiness. You must see it for what it really is: something that is just holding you back and keeping you trapped. This allows us to accept our decision to break free from the cycle of debt with dignity and a self validation.


Is it worth it? You bet it is. Going bankrupt and starting over a privilege few the world get to undertake, but you do. It’s not going to set you back. Instead, it will set you free. Look what happened to Donald Trump. He filed for bankruptcy at least four times and it hasn’t stopped him from running for President, has it? It didn’t stop him from being rich. So the question we ought to ask ourselves is that if it is good enough for rich people like the billionaire Donald Trump, isn’t it good enough for us? Pulling the trigger and hitting the giant reset button will provide you a tremendous sense of relief. I’ll guarantee you’ll sleep better than you’ve slept in months if not years. And this relief is yours for the taking if you but make the decision to let go of your own preconceived notions and begin to think about this process differently.


How long does it take to get over it? Usually not long. After I filed for bankruptcy, I quickly emotionally accepted it and moved on. I was over it by the next day. It’s amazing how fast our “emotional mind” gets behind us when we finally make a decision and start moving forward. Have you filed for bankruptcy and would you like to share your story with us? Feel free to drop us a letter, fax, or email or call us at 214-377-0166.

Eric Engel

by Eric Engel

Eric Engel is a Dallas divorce attorney for clients in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. He is the president of Engel Law Firm. For more information on Mr. Engel please visit his bio page or contact our firm at (214) 377-0166.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>