Getting to your debt story
This is the first in a three-part series on debt. This article pinpoints the spiritual meaning of debt and asks you to examine and begin re-writing your debt story.
Anyone who has been faced with debt knows what a never-ending struggle it can be. Every spare bit of income seems to go towards paying down the towering debt. It’s too easy to get caught up in the worry of meeting your responsibilities and appeasing your creditors. Once they’re paid, does it end there? Sometimes, but very often it leads to further indebtedness, to ‘catch up’ to what you might feel you missed out on while you were so busy paying your other debts.
Where does this cycle spring from? What’s lacking in our inner Selves that craves to be filled by external possessions or gains? The spiritual meaning of debt is a desire to be closer to our perfect, abundant, authentic Self, but as we become disconnected from what exactly that means to each of us individually, we cast around for examples outside of ourselves. We see our neighbours with a new car and think, ‘they seem happy, perhaps it’s the car.’ We see our friends moving into new jobs because they upgraded their education, and we think, ‘maybe that’s the answer.’ We desire equivalence with the people and situations around us, believing ourselves to be starting at some point other than where they are.
In truth, there’s no external thing that will make us equivalent, because we already are. Finding that truth within your heart will move you from straining to reach the next Shangri-la to being at peace with where you are. Debt allows us to borrow against one of our thousands of potential futures, the main problem being, the future doesn’t exist in the present. It is only a potential, and in our fairly limited minds we can only imagine a small number of the infinite possibilities that actually are.
So, ideally, we’re borrowing against a future in which we’re able to pay back the debt easily. If you’re in debt, chances are that hasn’t been the case. Instead, our present (which was one of the other future possibilities from then) is a different story. Since then, our circumstances may have changed dramatically, our lives may have taken a turn that our limited minds hadn’t foreseen, and we sit facing what we owe, asking ourselves if this is how things will always be.
Debt has a way of multiplying because of the energy of debt itself. In borrowing to make yourself equivalent to something outside of yourself, you have accepted that you’re not. When you get the ‘thing’ that you borrowed the money for, does the feeling of being equivalent last? If you continue to start with the same premise, of inequality, inferiority or lack, the satisfaction that you get from the having of your desire will be short-lived. There will always be something new you want, because there is always something to trigger your back story, telling you you’re not enough, or not quite there yet, until and unless you make peace with the reason you’re there in the first place.
It is not the things we really want - the education, the car, the house, the clothes - it’s the feeling or attribute that we believe it will bestow on us through the having of it. Perhaps we want to appear or feel more intelligent or qualified, so we borrow money to take courses. Are we actually any more intelligent or qualified, if inside we haven’t changed our attitudes towards our own worthiness or acceptance of ourselves as we are? If we approach each new experience knowing that we’re enough, we’re whole without it, and we simply want to experience the thing for the sake of enjoyment, that brings a new perspective into the exchange.
Much debt springs from the need to soothe a part of ourselves, our wounded child who didn’t receive the feedback we so desired. And the ease and availability of so many, many things exacerbates these wounds. It’s too easy to get credit towards whatever your heart desires, some companies even offering ‘no payments for ___ months/years.’ We’re a society that hasn’t been taught the joy of gratification through saving for what you want. It’s not just practical in a fiscal sense, but also in the sense that it allows you time to really think through what it is you’re about to spend this money on. If, in the time it takes you to save what you need to acquire your desire, you decide you don’t need it after all, you’ve learned something along the way. Your desire (or the emotion attached to the desiring of the thing) has been satisfied elsewhere, through some other channel, which allows you to gain perspective.
What’s your Debt Story? Knowing the story behind the behaviour can give you the knowledge you need to move forward to a debt-free mindset. Examine your patterns, your choices, and the reasons behind them. Ask yourself if all the things that you own were gone, or if you hadn’t got that post-secondary education, would you be a different person? Would you be able to feel successful, happy and at peace without all the things you have acquired? Look beneath the debt to find the mindset that got you here. There may be more than one story running consecutively through your belief system, and many stem from the insecurity of not knowing your own worth.
There is no one debt story, each one of us is as different as snowflakes are to one another, so be sure that you’re telling yourself your own story. Don’t attach other people’s ideas about debt to your own innate sense of why you’re here. For instance, if you’ve grown up believing debt is sinful and find yourself in debt, you are fighting against the deep belief that you are in some way sinful, on top of the other stuff that got you here. Go easy on yourself, and allow yourself some leeway for feeling emotional, frightened and uncertain. Gently pick apart all the threads of your story so that you have a clear idea of why you’re in debt, and let’s go from there.
Also known as 'The Catharsis Coach,' Jenny loves exploring life's twists and turns through the lens of transformation. Her own journey through catharsis, a deep, deep letting go of ingrained patterns and beliefs, resulted in a feeling of connectedness, with the world around her and with that wise and wonderful voice within. Jenny has learned to engage with her life and experiences in a way that allows her to use the knowledge gained through them to serve others. When she's not writing, she's coming up with new ways to help people move through change with grace and ease.