Matthew Dunaway October 2018 · 205-705-3590

October 2018

BEYOND HERE LIE MONSTERS Taking Stock of Our Fears

By the time most people call my office, they’re afraid. Their wages are being garnished, their car is being repossessed, they have a lien placed against their house, or there’s some other immediate threat on their doorstep. They’re panicked, and they have to do something right now because something bad will happen if they don’t. This type of fear is called terror, and it jolts them into actually picking up the phone and dialing my office. But terror rarely springs from nowhere. While our worst fears can sometimes hit us unexpectedly, in a lot of situations there’s buildup, a period of time when we allow our fears to grow into terror because we ignore them.

phone calls or the debt we’re in because it’s unpleasant. We don’t want to think about it, so we do something else. Sometimes we can go years like that and nothing bad happens, but the fear is always there, looming in the background. One day it will come back to haunt you, and that’s when the terror kicks in. Obviously, it’s better to address a fear rather than face a terror. To continue using finance as an example, would you rather deal with a debt collector calling or have your wages garnished? The phone calls are preferred, of course, but as humans, we resist dealing with even small problems due to fear. Why? A significant source of our fear is not understanding what it is that we are afraid of. Our discomfort with the unknown or unfamiliar will always make our fears far worse than they really are. Map makers of old would carefully chart their world, but when they reached unfamiliar territory, they would write, “Beyond here lie monsters.” They did not know what was out there, and that fear manifested itself as “monsters” to keep others away. We do this same thing today, though sometimes our modern fears are more intangible. When terror drives people to call my office, I find a lot of their greatest fears come from misinformation regarding the debt collection process. They’re afraid of going to jail over

their debts, being sued, or losing everything. These are all reasonable things to be afraid of, but when I look at a client’s situation, more often than not, it’s clear these aren’t things they need to be afraid of in that moment. Experiencing fear is not a bad thing. Being afraid can help us avoid unnecessary danger and keep us safe. It’s when our fears run wild and we let ourselves act impulsively due to terror that we get in trouble. There are two steps in overcoming fear. First, you need to understand what you are looking at. Examine what it is about your situation that is causing your fear. Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of exactly?” Then get informed. If you are struggling with a financial fear, talk to a friend who has been through the same process. Or better yet, reach out to an expert. If you’re afraid of the debt collection process, talk to a bankruptcy lawyer. Get real answers and alleviate those made-up fears. Understanding your fear and having answers doesn’t mean that fear will magically disappear, but it can help you learn how to deal with the situation and move past it.

When terror drives people to call my office, I find a lot of their greatest fears come from misinformation regarding the debt collection process.

–Matt Dunaway

We’re all guilty of ignoring our problems and hoping they’ll just go away, especially when it comes to finances. We ignore the

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