Debt-Proof Your Attitude
By Mary Hunt
Founder and Editor of Debt-Proof Living
Attitude, the way you respond to life and all of its circumstances, is more important than anything. It is more important than the past, than struggle or success, than education or experience. It is more important than how much money you have, how much you owe, what you would like to do, or where you would like to go.
While I have never actually seen them in person — I've seen pictures of the cables — those I know who have climbed to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park tell me the final ascent up the sheer granite surface of that majestic landmass is by far the most challenging. The cables are there to make sure the climbers reach the top safely and with a modicum of ease; however I understand such a term is terribly relative.
Once you begin the last leg of the journey and finally see the cables, you stand there, tilt your head to the sky, view the final hundred yards or so that lead to the top, and experience terror like you've never known. You realize you have no choice but to finish the trip.
At that moment you are more thankful than you could ever imagine for these cables that will become the guardrails you need to pull yourself to the top — to a spectacular view and feeling of accomplishment the likes of which you cannot begin to fathom from your current vantage point.
We need to erect cables in our lives so that when we face the difficult climbs on the journey — they will come, you can count on it — the guardrails we need to make it to the top will be there waiting to protect us from our own fears and self-defeating attitudes.
All of us have quitting points in our lives, those times or situations that become so overwhelming or challenging that we simply give up. No matter what you call them — brick walls, insurmountable obstacles, complete surprises, financial crises — without erecting cables ahead of time, you most likely will continue to give in to defeat.
You can erect cables by memorizing a list of all the reasons you will not give in to debt. Drilling them into your mind so deeply that you could repeat them in your sleep will give you those cables to hang onto when you are feeling weak and vulnerable. Some examples:
- I don't do debt because it presumes unfairly on my future.
- It is wrong for me to spend money I do not have.
- There is always a way out — I will not stop until I find it.
- When I step out in faith, I unleash God's power in my life.
- I trust even when I do not understand.
- I do the right thing even when I don't feel like it.
- This credit card company doesn't really care about me the way this letter indicates — they are looking for a new sucker.
Another way you can erect cables is by identifying your unique quitting points and then figure out how to crash through them. What past circumstances and situations have caused you to throw in the towel and turn to credit as the easy way out? Perhaps it is Christmas or vacation, or your fickle feelings of dissatisfaction when you see what others have that you want.
Once you discover your quitting points, you have to prepare to deal with them. You have to do this ahead of time, not at the moment you come face to face with the overwhelming desire to quit. People who set out to climb Half Dome are notified before they ever leave camp whether or not the cables are up for the summer season. Experienced hikers would never set out on that 17-mile trek without the assurance that the cables are in place and ready to go.
Moreover, I can tell you that long before they need them, those hikers are already counting on the cables to be there when the going gets tough.
Perhaps your quitting points or those of someone you love come in monthly cycles — if you know what I mean. You have three weeks of every month to practice crashing through the difficult time you know is on its way.
Anticipate those feelings of defeat and sadness. Practice rejecting attitudes of defeat and purposely replacing them with appropriate thoughts and behaviors. Know exactly what you will do even when you don't feel like it, when every emotion in your body begs to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head or suggests that a trip to the mall with a credit card will make you feel better.
Gather all the strength you have to crash through those quitting points. Each time you do, it will be easier to do it the next time. Soon crashing through will become a habit on which you rely. Then you will begin to experience tremendous progress.
One of the human freedoms we enjoy is to choose our attitude in any given set of circumstances. We can alter our lives by altering our attitudes. That is an amazing concept — one that should fill you with confidence and joy!
Mary Hunt is the founder and editor of Debt-Proof Living newsletter, the new finance columnist at Guideposts magazine, an AOL Money Coach and a contributing editor of Woman’s Day magazine. She is the author of 16 bestselling books, and her syndicated Everyday Cheapskate column can be found online and in newspapers nationwide. .
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