This week the focus is on anger, the second of the five stages of grief. People in a debt crisis might be angry at themselves, their family members, their political leaders or the local mortgage broker. There might also be a whole host of regrets that come to the surface as well: they might regret buying the house, the car or taking that new job they just got laid off from. Whatever the focus, and whatever the reason, anger is an important and essential step in this process. With that said, let me stress that while anger might be an appropriate response when faced with a financial crisis, one must be mindful of how it manifests.
Everyone deals with anger in their own way. Some might keep it bottled in, and not express it at all. Others might talk about their anger. In a worse case scenario, it could manifest negatively (i.e., verbal and/or physical abusive). Others may resort to alcohol or drugs to deal with their anger. All of these can happen and it’s important to be mindful of what a productive expression of anger is, and what is unhealthy and perhaps even dangerous. A productive expression of anger is likely to be a temporary event. The effects of a negative manifestation of anger, like substance abuse or violence, can linger.
Don’t get me wrong, for homeowners facing a financial crisis or foreclosure, there is a hell-of-a-lot to be angry about. There are those banks that wrote ridiculous loans. There are those appraisers who inflated numbers to get the biggest loans. There are those mortgage brokers who are paid more if you borrowed more, and may have even fibbed on applications. There are political leaders who touted homeownership as a means for financial stability, all while home prices reach unrealistic levels.
There are those nasty retail clerks that had no problem giving a 10% discount if a charge account is opened. There were the commercials that touted Countrywide as always saying “yes” and MBTA Stations decorated with nothing but WaMu ads. There are the loan servicers who will not offer to help you until you’re late with payments, or until the house is headed to foreclosure. And there are the politicians you voted for who talk-the-talk, and talk and do nothing more.
Then there are the would-a, should-a, could-a things to be angry about. Those are too numerous to list. They are also too personal. Everyone – at some point – has had regrets and everyone, at some point, has been angry about regret. ( If anyone reading this denies this, then I can only assume that they never went out on a date with someone who turned out to be a toad, they never ended a relationship of any kind, or they never wore an outfit to a public function, only discovering later that it was ill-fitting, out of style, or had a peculiar and quite visible stain on it.) If you think real hard, you’ll find something to be angry about. But remember that it is what we do with that anger that will be measured years from now.
It’s important for people in financial difficulty to know that it is really ok to be angry about being in financial difficulty. It is really ok to be angry about decisions that once seemed like a great idea, but now are very regrettable. It is really ok to be angry because you feel vulnerable and uncertain about the future. But know that the anger, very much like the financial difficulty, will be temporary. And it will all pass.
And there may be days when it will not seem that way. All I can say is this: I’ve been there and it will.
Storm Preparation is a weekly series appearing on Wednesdays and offers tips and information to people who think they may need bankruptcy protection in the future. Questions, comments or suggestions can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Storm Preparation: Stage One, Denial
- Storm Preparation: The Stages
- Storm Preparation: Talk to Your Kids
- Storm Preparation: Some Thoughts on What We Can Do
- Storm Preparation: Acceptance
Tags: Storm Preparation