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The Battle of the Bill: The Psychology of Unpaid Debt & Denial

Posted by Emily Herrington on Nov 2, 2020 12:22:37 PM

It’s an unopened bill, an ignored phone call, a deleted voicemail. Sticking those bills in a drawer or straight into the trashcan doesn’t make the debt go away; in fact, doing so could actually be making you and your family sick.

Debt doesn’t just affect the debtor. Anxiety, fear, depression, and stress are all contagious. It’s a cycle that perpetuates itself over and over again. Those around you are feeling your stress, even if they don’t know why you’re depressed and angry. Every time the phone rings your heart rate increases, you withdraw and turn inward, the negative self-talk begins, even if just for a minute.

According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can cause overeating or undereating, headaches, chest pain, sleep problems, fatigue, and lack of motivation. It can lead to tobacco, drug and alcohol abuse, and emotional outbursts that can lead to the destruction of relationships.

Almost every American household is overwhelmed by thousands of dollars in debt, and many people use this as a crutch, making excuses because they think they are no different than anyone else. But the fact is, each one is different, yet the results are often the same.

The American Psychological Association did a study and an alarming trend emerged: stress levels have increased so much year over year that mass shootings and acts of terrorism have continue to rise. So, why do consumers continue to spend beyond their means? Why do they ignore the portion of the doctor bill after insurance pays their portion? Why do Americans succumb to offers of buy now and pay later, knowing that they are no more likely to be able to afford the payment then than they are now? All these choices lead to the ultimate deterioration of mental health.

How do we stop the cycle?

While there are inspiring stories about how people ditched their debt, this isn’t always the case. The first step on the road to debt-free success is acceptance. A sense of entitlement and an abandonment of responsibility will have no place in the process. It’s tough love with yourself, and facing those collection letters will be hard, but you’ll likely find that if you go into your plan with a sense of purpose, and a specific set of goals, you’re more likely to be successful.

Mark Divine writes that “goal-setting creates a structure that allows you to visualize your success and mitigate stress. By laying out the blueprints for your future, you allow yourself tighter control and thus eliminate stress throughout your conquest. Your actions and obstacles no longer become singular or isolated, but part of the entire journey of your success”.

So, it’s time to open that drawer, take a hard look at your budget, call the collection agency, and map out a plan not only to pay off your debt, but to gain back the control of your mind.

Interested in learning about contingency-only collections with ART? Give us a call today! 423-586-7613.

Topics: Insider, old debt, debt collections, get out of debt, how to get out of debt, unpaid debt, being debt free