Surviving and Thriving After Bankruptcy: Dealing With Emotions, Part 2

Rebuilding Your Emotional and Mental Health After Bankruptcy, Part II

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In the first part of this series, Surviving and Thriving After Bankruptcy: Dealing WIth Emotions, Part 1, we talked about how the bankruptcy process affects your mental and emotional health. In Part II, we give you some practical and we hope helpful ideas for taking action to recover from those difficult negative feelings.

Rely on your attorney and her staff. Hopefully you have an attorney who has exhibited real compassion for your situation. I think the best attorneys are those who take their roles seriously, like the members of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.  I know very few consumer bankruptcy attorneys who are not willing to provide their clients with a shoulder to cry on. That said, most are not trained in the art of mental or emotional counseling. Furthermore, you cannot expect that these professionals will let you wallow in your tears.

They will expect you to follow their directions and to take their advice because they know that in time with support you will get through this. Let them guide you. They know what they’re doing.

Understand that you’re not alone. Many people file bankruptcy, and many more suffer without taking that step, extending their misery far into the future. You’ve taken important steps toward securing your financial well-being. Perhaps you’re already feeling a bit of the burden having lifted from your shoulders. Many of my clients start feeling better the moment they walk out of the office after their initial consultation. It will happen.

Stop the blame game. That’s water under the bridge. You may want to yell at your old boss, slash your ex-wife’s tires, or blame God for smoting you with cancer, but you know that will do you little good in the end. It’s time for you to take charge. You recognized that you could not go on as you had, and you took steps to help yourself. Realizing that you are the master of your fate will do more for your psyche than anything.

Read everything you can about financial recovery from bankruptcy. You will get credit again, if you want it. You will be able to buy the latest cell phone. You will qualify for a mortgage, a terrific apartment or a great new job. You may even improve your chances of getting a security clearance or life insurance. Start here with Surviving and Thriving After Bankruptcy: Getting New Credit

Open a savings account. An easy way to immediately take charge of your financial future is to open a savings account. Putting just $5 or $10 away every week will give you a surprising emotional boost. Add to it regularly, but don’t put more in than you can afford, and don’t touch that money once it’s in the account until you reach a pre-determined goal. Vow to yourself, that when you do take money out of the account, you will increase your payments into the account thereafter by at least $5 a deposit.

And don't forget, you can even bank online. See The Best Online Savings Accounts in 2015.

Consult your clergy. If you are a religious person, I would encourage you to confide your concerns in your clergy. Many if not most are trained in pastoral counseling. Even if they are not, they wouldn’t last long as clergy people unless they knew how to provide a compassionate ear. Just confiding in someone used to handling confidences often will help you feel like you’re not alone.

For more information on pastoral counseling, visit the site of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.

Volunteer your time. For many of my clients, doing something that gets themselves out of their own heads is a godsend. Focusing on how to accomplish a task that will help someone else can be a strong antidote to an unproductive “woe is me” attitude. Almost everyone will have some talent and some amount of time to devote to others. You can pick up trash on the highway, seat people at church, read to children in the hospital. Check out the listing at your local volunteer center or United Way.

Get professional help. If the feelings of sadness and regret persist, or start to interfere with your relationships, your job or your health, it’s time to consider getting professional help. If you have insurance, your provider can guide you to qualified mental and emotional health professionals appropriate to your situation. Many counties have mental health agencies that provide counseling on a sliding-fee scale depending on income and family circumstances. Just figuring out the alphabet soup of designations many of these professionals have after their names, (M.D., Ph.D., MSW, RN, LCSW, LMFT, LPC, etc.) can be daunting.

The Internet can help with this.

Here’s a place to start: How to Find the BEST Therapist for You.

For more articles in the series, see

Surviving and Thriving After Bankruptcy: Dealing With Emotions, Part 2