The Fear of Financial Suffering

I’ve been reading more fiction lately.  It’s a welcomed escape into another world.  At times during this pandemic, it’s been necessary to retreat into a world less REAL than what we’re currently experiencing.

A few of the novels I’ve read have been written by renowned author Paulo Coelho.  Specifically, ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept’.

The lessons written by Coelho in these novels are not financial by any means.

In ‘The Alchemist’, the lessons center around finding one’s true destiny and how “when you really want something to happen, the whole universe will conspire so that your wish comes true”.

In ‘By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept’, the lessons center around the depths of love and dealing with feelings that have been buried for years.

However, being surrounded by the world of finance every day, I couldn’t help but tie lessons from these novels into financial lessons for you to use.

Take this passage from ‘The Alchemist’ for example:

“We, their hearts, become fearful just thinking of loved ones who go away forever, or of moments that could have been good but weren’t, or of treasures that might have been found but were forever hidden in the sands.  Because, when these things happen, we suffer terribly.”

“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.”

We get paralyzed by overthinking a decision.

When it comes to investing, people miss out on YEARS of stock market gains because they can’t decide when is the right time to get invested.  Years later they end up kicking themselves for waiting so long and suffering through the constant debate of “is now the right time?”

When it comes to spending money, we hear stories of how people save, save, save their entire life and are too afraid to spend any money when the time comes.  The fear of losing money, or spending money on something and having it not live up to your expectations can stop us in our tracks.

Some people don’t want to take part in the financial planning process because they’ll think they are trapped by the results, or they’ll feel like they can’t spend their money.

Financial planning shouldn’t make you feel trapped.  Financial planning should make you feel empowered. Empowered to make educated decisions, take charge of your life, and move forward with confidence.

In ‘By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept’, Coelho writes:

“Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering.”

Again, this speaks to the pain brought on by indecision and not knowing where you stand.  When it comes to financial decisions, waiting (saving money) can be painful, forgetting (moving on from a mistake) can also be painful, but being in a state of “I don’t really know” is the worst.

This isn’t a pitch to go spend all your money right now and deal with the consequences later.  It’s a pitch to help you understand that not knowing what state your finances are in is the worst kind of suffering.

I know too many people who refuse to even look at their bank accounts.  They don’t want to know.

Plenty of times, we’ve had people come to our firm saying “I’m a mess financially”, and once they actually sit down and look at the numbers they realize “wow, this isn’t as bad as I thought”.

The emotional nightmare and constant worrying of “am I going to be okay” is much worse than looking at your bank accounts every so often.  Even if you’re in rough shape, at least you know where you stand and can work on improving.

If you’re someone who has been suffering from financial indecision or “I don’t want to know” syndrome, it’s okay.  There’s a saying that we use around the office here:

It’s okay to be wrong, but it’s not okay to stay wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *