Question: Dear Luise: I have known of you since 1969 and I have always respected your wisdom. Four years ago I sold a beautiful little condo that was nearly paid for on Vashon Island because I felt I just wasn’t “ready” yet to surrender the freedom of living in a house. I bought a lovely brand new home right at the time that “creative mortgages” were still considered “sensible”. When the market crashed I knew I had better get out fast because the whole payment plan was dependent on future equity. The whole “investment” to begin with was foolishly justified because after all, I was just “borrowing” from future equity. It took 9 months to sell and I ended up lowering it to a price below what I had paid for it. All of my original equity (down payment) was eaten up plus half of my portfolio maintaining the expenses for three years. Now we are coming into economic hard times and I keep making myself sick thinking that I could have had a safe little haven for 200.00 a month for the rest of my life and I will never have that chance again. The irony is that I ended up in an apartment lifestyle anyway. I live at a wonderful senior complex and I hope to remain here but half my assets are now gone and federal funds are about to collapse. Now I could end up anywhere. No safe little haven on an island to call my own. I actually once had that arrangement all socked away for the rest of my life and I blew it. How am I going to stop hurting myself over this mistake I made? Even though I am quite happy here, I still am furious with myself for going against the respect for money that I knew I had. This painful feeling just won’t go away. What do you think I should do to feel better? S.
Answer: Dear S. Well, hello again. I did something similar so I’ll share my experience with you. I put all of my savings into an investment that other family members were using and were happy with. However, it turned out to be a scam and the initial, outstandingly profitable performance we all experienced was the bait. Some seasoned investors put in tens of millions, so I guess it was cleverly devised. The men who dreamed the whole thing up are in prison but the money was all carefully and cleverly hidden “off-shore” and can’t be located or retrieved.
I think we are all subject to varying degrees of personal recrimination. Two things helped me with this natural phenomenon. The first was in knowing that we all do things that look wise at the time and then turn out to be fool-hearty. We are human and fallible. We don’t have crystal balls and things that are not within our control can change. Secondly, I looked at my life and what I saw was comfort. That told me that I was luckier than most.
Savings are wonderful to have and wise to create. However, the Universe often seems to provide what is needed. I my case at least, that was true. I also saw guilt as non-productive and secondarily harmful. It caused negativity, anxiety and stress. I couldn’t undo my decision and the financially disastrous results but I could pass on allowing even more damage to occur based on my attitude.
All of this happened to me eight years ago. The way I turned it around was to start a written gratitude list that I went over every night before retiring, always adding something more to it. I started feeling more and more blessed and that brought about self-forgiveness. I was amazed to find that inner joy eventually replaced my despair. I have kept up the practice on a daily basis ever since.
I have known you to rise above difficult circumstances before and you can do it again. Peace is just a thought away. It follows gratitude. Blessings, Luise