Forgiveness Drives Out Fear

It was 2008

The Great Recession was roiling the economy. The volatility of the market was upsetting everyone’s sense of well-being and life satisfaction. We were all living in a state of fear. We weren’t paying attention to account values, future projections, or financial plans. We were simply consumed with uncertainty and worry.

I noticed this especially with my own financial advising clients at the time. Even when financial projections proved that my clients would be okay, regardless of the sharp declines, most still reacted with fear:

  • Some clients sold investments into cash, resulting in significant loss.
  • Some postponed retirement.
  • Some came out of retirement and went back to work.
  • Others cashed in life insurance with adverse tax ramifications.

Each decision made came at a cost. Some costs were financial, but most came at the price of their overall well-being and peace of mind.

As a financial advisor, I felt I was not equipped to help my clients navigate the overwhelming emotions they were experiencing. Or the adverse effects it was having on the quality of their decision-making. No one was helping my clients make better decisions.

More than financial advice

It seemed important to know how to teach others to be confident decision-makers instead of fear-driven ones. I knew back then that I didn’t have that skill set. But if I did, I could help people heal their addiction to fear (yes, fear is an addiction) and transform their state of financial well-being.

That is why I decided to transition from financial advisor to coach…and 12 years later, I’m still doing wealth coaching full-time.

Now it’s 2022. We’re still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, another period of volatility and uncertainty. Financial planners can prove that their client’s financial plans are on track. They can withstand the storm. But many are still scared. Fear is still in charge of their decision making.

Fearful decision-making does not and cannot produce favorable results, nor will it ever improve your state of financial well-being or life satisfaction. Fearful decision-making is reactionary, impulsive, and creates additional problems instead of peaceful solutions.

So, what can you do?

Learn to forgive

Learn to forgive what you think is the cause of your (financial) fears, stress, and conflicts. Explore your relationship with money. You need to understand where your money patterns and behaviors came from and the influence your relationship with money has on the quality of your decision-making.

Once you do, you will sit squarely on the seat of choice. This can be scary because going forward, you are no longer a victim of your circumstances. You’re aware of your financial beliefs and behaviors. You can choose to believe and act in healthier ways, or you can choose to repeat old behaviors, rooting yourself stuck and fearful, with no one else to blame.

Embrace these times of volatility as an opportunity to see things in a different way. Instead of asking, “why is this happening to me?” Ask yourself, “what is the purpose of this volatility? What can I learn?” Volatility isn’t good or bad. It’s up to you what you make of it. Shakespeare got it right in Hamlet: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Another choice always exists. When financial struggle or a turbulent market brings fear and anxiety, peace is always a choice. Say this to yourself: “I can choose to see peace instead of this.”

Say this “thought turnaround” statement until you actually believe it.

The practice of undoing

The forgiveness I teach is the practice of undoing. Undoing how you think life is supposed to work and look like, financially or otherwise. It is a commitment to the process of change. Undoing is changing your mind about what is truly important to you.

What’s more important when your investments take a dip: peace of mind or insecurity? What about when you make an impulsive purchase: peace of mind or guilt? When you forgive, you “undo” your initial reaction and deliberately choose peace instead.

This forgiveness gets you out of your own way. Accept that the mistakes you made–financial or otherwise–were not sins. They were simply errors. Now that you are aware, you can choose a perspective that matches your values. Better behavior will follow.

Forgiveness is the great restorer of hope. When past mistakes and current fears are put in right perspective, life becomes easier. You don’t avoid reading your investment statements anymore. You know how to make mindful and deliberate decisions. Instead of worrying if your house will sell above asking, you trust that what matters most to you is in charge of the choices you make. Good decision-making results in everyone’s best interest.

Forgiveness is an attitude…and I don’t know of a way of life more powerful and transformational than this practice.

Hear more from me! Join my free webinar on forgiveness and better decision-making, hosted by the University at Buffalo on September 14th: