Pride and Silence are Combatants to Managing Economic Stress.

Several months ago, I visited a car dealership to have a car serviced. While I waited, I went upstairs to take a look at some of the cars in the showroom. A sales consultant came over and we instantly started a conversation about the car that I had been eyeing for last several minutes. I told him that I wasn’t in the market to buy but I just wanted to look. A few moments later, I asked what type of impact the economic downturn has had on car sales because the dealership was nearly empty of customers. He said that it had been brutal. I told him that I had asked because of my interest in economic stress and the book that I had written on this topic. And, then, something happened. He began to talk about his previous career, which was as an investment banker on Wall Street. It was as if he went into a trance, recalling his lifestyle of abundance. He then spoke about his fall into the clutches of economic stress, which resulted from a layoff, and how it has left him angry, guilt-ridden, ashamed and, incapable of communicating these feelings to his wife in a way that would really allow her to understand how economic stress affects him as a man, as a husband and as a provider. He also mentioned how difficult it was to adjust to a much lower salary and selling cars to the same people who were once his colleagues on Wall Street. He spoke about the feelings of isolation and depression that have become more of a routine in his life than a rarity. I asked him if he has anyone with whom he can talk. He said that he just can’t because, “What would people think of me?” I said, “But, you are talking to me right now.” And, I said, “Do you feel better or worse?” He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “I feel like a weight has been lifted, talking with someone who gets it but who is not judging me.” I said that economic stress is affecting people across the country, regardless of industry, education, years of experience and age. I also told him that if I, a stranger, could help him to feel a little better, imagine what a loved one could do. He said that he never thought about it in that way and he thanked me for allowing him to share his story. We shook hands and we wished each other well.

If the previous paragraph reminds you of yourself because you are reluctant to talk about the impact that economic stress is having on you, it may be a good time to re-think your approach. Talking to a person that you trust, who is a very good listener and who can give you sound advice could really help to make a positive difference in your life and in some cases, this type of input could even be a literal life saver. But, your first step is keeping your pride from rendering you mute. So, SPEAK UP!

Dr. Rob

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