January is a notoriously tough month for so many. The fall out from Christmas excesses strips the pounds from your accounts as much as it piles it onto your waistline. The end of the month paycheck seems a long way away. And the taxman comes knocking on your door in his favourite Grim Reaper garb.
January for me has been particularly tight. A combination of various factors has compounded over the last few months, meaning that our reserves have not only dried up, but the reserves of the reserves too. For the first time in a while, I’d hit a brick wall.
Sleepless nights, robbing Peter to pay Paul, a dollop of creativity, prioritising one need above another – all these features had peppered the last few months.
I’m sure that many of you reading this are not strangers to that insiduous feeling of insecurity and unpredictability. The range of emotions you can go through is extraordinary – from deep seated panic that you’re on the way to losing it all, to intense shame and guilt that you’ve allowed this to happen, to gritted determination that you’ll do anything to pull yourself and your family through, to at times an isolated sense of calm that all will be fine… only to be boomeranged straight back into that sheer terror again!
Which is exactly where I was when I received a text message from what I thought was the HMRC, but that was a scam account using the letters HMREGOV. But in my state of gritted panic I read what I wanted to read.
When this pinged into my inbox, I was in a situation when my normal senses had been overstretched by firefighting our strained resources. Clicking on the link that subsequently told me I was due a rebate of £462, I felt a wave of relief wash over me – not a life changing amount, but enough to clear a couple of outstanding bills!
My state of high alert about the scarcity of my finances kept me totally focussed – tunnel visioned if you like – on every potential opportunity (entrepreneurs see opportunities don’t they). But it had narrowed my perspective so much that I had become blind to the threats that were creeping up behind me.
Luckily my ever resourceful husband (always good to have a wingman!) realised before it was too late that it was actually a scam, and we were able to put safeguards in place.
This tale is one of caution to illustrate just how crucial perspective is to maintaining a balance of emotions that is going to work for your benefit.
No matter where you are in life, there will be struggles and mountains to climb, and the fear and anxiety around these struggles are an essential component in creating the energy that drives you forward.
But there is a tipping point – when you tip over into the red zone, and that forward motion becomes a downward slide into panic. And it is at this point where your perspective becomes compromised, and the energy that previously drove you forward, is now beginning to work against you.
Now, I am a pretty cool, calm and collected person, and it takes me a long time to reach that red zone. In fact, I haven’t been there for quite a while. That one text message scared me. It forced me to take a serious step back and regain that perspective again.
And it was a very timely reminder for me of how frightening it can be to be living in the red zone consistently, which is where many people still do. The result of spending too long in this red zone leads us into what we understand to be ‘mental illness’.
If you are currently residing in this red zone, please know that by simply learning a few thought management skills, you can, and will, be able to calm yourself right back down through amber and into the safer, calmer green zone, no matter what storms are raging around you. You’ll never avoid the red zone completely, but you will learn to recognise it sooner, and take appropriate action.
Are you living in the red or green zones?