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Sadness: How To Prevent It From Stealing Your Money

He's sad, I'm sad, Let's buy some stuff!

Some days I’m just sad… Holy shit, I said it!  As a 33 year old man, I’ve spent the vast majority of my life hiding my emotions from the world.

I was raised to believe that admitting sadness was weakness, like if I admit I’m sad, some giant ripped dude overflowing with testosterone and dopamine is going to kick in my door and take my wife and dogs off to the world of happiness and rainbows.

So, I kept my negative emotions bottled up inside.  Percolating like a 10 cent cup of coffee…  Sounds totally healthy, right?

Ok, ok. I know its unhealthy to bottle up my emotions and much to the dismay of my wife, I didn’t seem to find a way to talk about my feelings.  Ha… She’s going to be shocked when she reads this.

Keeping my negative emotions bottled up inside has led to some poor financial decisions over the years and until I discovered F.I I never knew that my lack of emotional intelligence was derailing my financial goals.

SadnessSadness

Sadness is a powerful emotion.  It can quickly hijack normal, rational thinking and propel it down a road paved with self-loathing and pity.

It’s also important to know the difference between depression and a few bouts of sadness.  I’m not talking about depression.  That’s a clinical illness and requires medical attention.

A random bout of sadness is different and shouldn’t be compared.  If you feel at any time you’re depressed, please reach out to a health care provider and seek treatment.

Although I’m a Registered Nurse, I’m not here to offer you any type of advice on dealing with Depression.

Amygdala emotional center of the brain

My big dumb emotional brain

It’s taken me a long ass time to figure out my goofy brain.  I don’t know how many great days I’ve lost feeling down, wallowing like a giant man-baby.

Those days are gone, and I can’t go back and edit them like a blog post but, I can learn from my mistakes and prevent future financial screw ups.

My pissy man-moods are mainly sparked by my parents.  I don’t exactly have a tight nuclear family, never really have.  I’m sure my family is pretty normal… Well, maybe once you strip away the constant guilt from the relationship.  Whoa… shit just got real.

I know, I’m being cynical… well, sort of.  It’s taken me years to know what triggers my sadness and thank god I finally did.  I’ve made some poor financial decisions in the pursuit of happiness.

Mans stealing moneyHow sadness steals your cash

A recent study completed by researchers from four universities goes further, trying to answer whether temporary sadness alone can trigger spendthrift tendencies.

The study found a willingness to spend freely by sad people occurs mainly when their sadness triggers greater “self-focus.” That response was measured by counting how frequently study participants used references to “I,” “me,” “my” and “myself” in writing an essay about how a sad situation such as the one portrayed in the video would affect them personally…

On average, the group watching the sad video offered to pay nearly four times as much for a sporty-looking, insulated water bottle than the group watching the nature video, according to the study by researchers from Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford and Pittsburgh Universities.

Sadness cost me $22,000

I’m know I own way too much shit that I bought to put a band aide on some short term negative emotions.  For instance…  I spent $22,000 on a tractor once because it made me “feel better”.  That’s a big ass band aide.

(Scoff) Rational thinking aside, I planned for about 25 minutes, asked my wife is she cared, drove to a dealership and financed that shit… because well… I wasn’t happy with something in my life back then.

After a few years that purchase worked out because we now own 52 acres and that big beautiful baby is used more than any other item I own.  Back then… I owned 2 acres.  2 tiny, tiny acres.

I didn’t need a big ass Kubota with a 60 inch deck and front loader to manage my average sized yard…  I probably looked ridiculous driving it around.

“Oh look honey, the neighbor is going to plow the fields… No wait, he’s just cutting his average sized yard with that farm tractor…” (sips coffee)

Own Your Emotions

Your emotions are powerful and trust me, they’re coming out.  Maybe they surface as buying a few purses, or buying a $22,000 tractor… they’re coming.

If you’re serious about control your finances you have to get serious about understanding your emotions and how those emotions play into your spending habits.

I'm sad lets go shoppingSadness and shopping

Not shopping or making large purchases when you’re down seems like common sense advice but, there are so many articles online encouraging you to shop when you’re down.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Shopping is better than therapy”.  I wonder what kind of demons I could have relieved for $22,000 worth of therapy?

Either way, I can’t imagine those articles are written by unbiased contributors.  Perhaps this one isn’t either…

Once you acknowledge that you are in-fact sad or experiencing some negative emotions.  Lock the debt/credit card up.  Put. That. Shit. Away.

Studies show that when someone is feeling sad, they tend to make dramatic, selfish decisions.  Current possessions lose their perceived value and we tend to go overboard on quality and quantity when making purchases.

If you’re experiencing some negative emotions feel the urge to buy something, put it off for a week or two.  Before making that purchase ensure you are thinking with your logical brain, not your emotional brain.

If in a week or 2 it still seems like a sound decision, great!  You can rest easy knowing you made a sound financial decision deep rooted in logic.

weightlifting to reduce stress and sadnessFind a healthy outlet

The healthiest thing I’ve done was starting to talk about my emotions.  Well, at least try to talk about them.  Feeling sad doesn’t make me any less of a man.  If anything owning it and trying to talk about how I’m feeling has made me a better man and husband.

I find that talking about my emotions releases a ton of stress and the issue that was having such a negative impact on me begins to seem rather silly when said aloud.

Allow yourself to feel sad.  It’s normal and healthy.  Hell, cry if you want!  Maybe once you purge that sadness you’ll feel like a million bucks and you won’t owe a million bucks!  See what I did there…

Start a blog, or a personal journal if you aren’t comfortable sharing your feelings with the internet.  Hell, sitting down and writing has done wonders for me.

There are still times I struggle with talking about my feelings but, writing them down seems to be a quality substitute that and leaves me with a sense of happiness after.

Start exercising.  It’s hard to feel down when you’re busting your ass at the gym.  Also, working out has been proven to increase the release of dopamine (the chemical that makes you feel positive and happy).  Also, maybe you’ll fit into those old high school jeans again, that’d be pretty sweet right?

Final Thoughts

Feeling sad is ok.  Dropping $22,000 on a tractor to cover up sadness… isn’t.

I’m getting better at accepting my negative emotions, and I’ve found that my wife still loves me even if my amygdala was drop kicked by some dumb-ass event.

What I’ve stopped doing is buying shit when I’m down.  I’m striving to make positive life changes and not masking sadness with material purchases.

Once we paid that tractor off, I swore I’d never do it again… $22,000…

 

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2 Comments

  1. I’ll be sure to keep a look out if I ever feel inclined to pay up for a nice, insulated water bottle. It’s a precursor to large tractor buys! Great piece. Love your writing style. It’s got punch and wit. Great read.

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