5. Mar, 2018

The true cost of living beyond your means

The True Cost of Trying to live beyond your means...........

Recently I've been working with a lovely young woman. A young woman of 28, married for 8 years, with a daughter, aged 3.

For the purposes of this post, I will refer to this woman as Ashley* and her daughter as Claire*

Ashley has given consent to use her sessions as a case study and herewith I will attempt to describe a very common 'syndrome' affecting young families everywhere.

Ashley presented to the Clinic with out of control anxiety, accompanied by a feeling of being overwhelmed and somewhat depressed. There was also a component of insomnia, which we later agreed was being driven and fuelled by the Anxiety.

Ashley worked part time 4 days per week with her daughter being partially cared for by her Mother In Law for 2 days, with the remaining 2 days covered by childcare. Ashley's husband works in the Mining Industry earning a very generous salary.

Ashley and her husband were paying off a lovely home and seemingly had all that a young couple could possibly want or need (by her own admission). Think - 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom home, 2 x large almost new 4WD vehicles, brand new furniture, health insurance and a wardrobe full of 'label' clothing for every member of the family.

After exploring Ashley's current set of life circumstances, we drilled down on where the anxiety was being generated from?

We looked at WHY Ashley had suddenly become nervous, restless and panicky about everyday activities that she previously enjoyed and carried out without any stress at all.

Ashley described her situation as similar to someone 'flicking a switch' and turning her into a complete and utter nervous wreck overnight.

As it turns out and as I am seeing more and more, the anxiety was stemming from the following;

Peer and Social Media Pressure to take an Overseas Vacation, and document every single moment of that vacation on Social Media.

Internalised Pressure to ensure Claire was only seen in 'Label' clothing at all social events.

Externalised and Social Media Pressure to be a 'Yummy Mummy' and fit into an exact size of clothing.

Pressure from 'frenemies' to spend up big and max out credit cards in order to eat out 2-3 times per week.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm the Queen of believing that the harder you work, the luckier you get. I'm also very big on living the best life you can, BUT, and this is a very big BUT, if you can't afford to eat out 2-3 times per week or buy label clothing, or even take that Overseas Vacation, why do it? Seriously, why do it?

Why partake in something that ultimately isn't for your happiness but rather to convey a false image of how wonderful your 'manufactured' life is? Because let's face it, FaceBook, Instagram, and other social networks only show us a tiny slice of reality. A slice of the best. Not often a slice of the nitty-gritty.

Point in case - how often do you see pictures of your friends make-up free, vacuuming the house or scrubbing out the loo? Sadly, they too are parts of life, undocumented, unpleasant but real. Real.

At the very core of Ashley's anxiety was the need to feel validated by being able to 'compete' with her online family and friends. Ashley candidly came to the conclusion that she didn't even really like many of the expensive outfits she had purchased for Claire, but felt that she HAD to do it, to feel socially accepted.

Likewise, the pressure to find thousands of extra dollars for an Overseas Trip was enough to tip Ashley's anxiety into a now bona fide disorder!

I'd like anyone reading this who finds it resonating with them to sit and reflect on that fact. If you're finding yourself losing sleep, panicky or worried about 'keeping up', then perhaps it's time to step back and re-evaluate exactly what a 'great' life really means?

Of course, a great life means different things to different people. However, one thing I can certainly state from a Therapeutic viewpoint is that if your lifestyle is way beyond your earning capacity, something is going to give and sadly, as in the case of Ashley, that has been her mental health and now her ability to care for Claire as she would like to.

The point of this post isn't about delivering a sermon of sorts, it's about the growing number of beautiful, amazing Clients I see who are finding themselves compromised, stressed and in the grips of mental health disorders due to feeling an immense pressure to have it all at 28, 30, 35 -

Here's a secret, a secret I'll share with you as a well travelled life journeyer - you have time. You have time to get it all together, you don't have to have it all now. There's a real joy in waiting, waiting to make that trip, saving for that new car, putting away X amount of dollars for those Nikes every week until you can afford them without adding more stretch marks to that poor old credit card.

There is no holiday, no article of clothing or no car that is worth losing your mental health over.  

Simple food for thought.