Which Came First? Anxiety or Money Problems

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

It’s a centuries-old cliche. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The cliche is a metaphoric adjective (Wikipedia said that). 😉 It describes situations where it is not clear between two events, which is the cause and which is the effect. However, when it comes to personal finance, it seems the experts have already closed the case. Money problems cause anxiety (aka stress). It’s the very impetus for programs like Financial Peace. And while that may be true, there is a counterintuitive argument that I’d like to make. Anxiety begets financial problems which beget more anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle. Hence to stop the cycle, you must first be aware of where it originated.

Evidence that anxiety causes money problems

When we are anxious, our dopamine levels are lower than normal. Unfortunately, rather than looking for healthy ways to reduce anxiety and raise dopamine levels we look for the quick fix. The quick fix is a term of addicts. While stereotypically we think of drugs or alcohol, there is a more extensive list of addictions.  If we’re honest we can spot ours on this list:

  1. Food. Carbs/Sugar in particular
  2. Technology
  3. Porn/Sex
  4. Gambling
  5. Shopping without reason
  6. Dangerous thrill seeking

It doesn’t take a grad level mathematician to figure out that all of the above addictions cost money. Anxiety results in these money leaks. And these leaks are why we find it so difficult to stick to a budget. So to back up the bus, we stop the money stress by stopping the money problems which we can waylay by preventing or reducing anxiety in the first place.

Examining anxiety a little closer

In the long run reducing stress reduces financial problems, which reduces anxiety. Our first issue with anxiety is that we treat it as an adjective instead of a noun.

Anxiety is not something we have, it’s something that has us. -@KarenZeigler tweet

Let’s look at the following definitions before an illustration:

Anxiety (noun) distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune.

Fear (noun) a distressing emotion around by impending danger, evil, pain, etc.

Worry (verb) to torment oneself with cares, anxieties, or fear

When you look up any of the above words, they are synonyms for each other.  Given these points, here are today’s questions for growth.

Grab your journal; it’s your turn to grow

Take a few moments and reflect on your personal finances.

  1. What addiction can be spotted, iIn thinking about your banking transactions?
  2. Was there an anxiousness present when those transactions took place?
  3.  What fear is behind the feelings of anxiousness?
  4. What are some healthier options for diagnosing and dealing with the fear, rather than pacifying it?



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