In one of my earlier blogs, Money And Emotion Mixed In Bankruptcy, I discussed the fact that, in the course of almost twenty-five years guiding people through the bankruptcy court process, I’ve learned that debtors tend to have a lot of negative feeling going on. Some of this negativity is caused by the financial problems they’re facing, but often it’s made worse by myths they’ve heard about bankruptcy, things that simply aren’t true. In that blog, I emphasized that fear, self-blame, and even despair are normal and natural emotions to have during a time of great financial stress. Yet the only emotions that are going to be useful during a bankruptcy are hope and resolve. There are things to be done, actions to be taken to handle matters (of course I’m there to help), and only the clients’ inner strength, resolve, and focus can drive those actions.
The other day, in a children’s story collection, I found the most wonderful tale. This story brings out the very point I was trying to make in that blog. (In fact, I believe I’m going to have everyone who’s considering filing bankruptcy or who is threatened with foreclosure read this story.) It’s called The Magic Ring, and it takes place in the time of King Solomon. In the story, Solomon hears about a ring that has a magic quality: the ring makes a sad person happy and a happy person sad. The king gives his chief general six months to locate the ring. The general travels far and wide, asking goldsmiths, silversmiths, merchants, sailors, captains of caravans from China and India – no one has heard of such a ring. Finally, an old man calls out to the general, and gives him a plain gold ring on which four words are inscribed.
The moment Solomon reads the words on the ring, he, who has all the riches in the world and all the wisdom in the world, becomes sad, realizing how circumstances could change his life in an instant. Yet Solomon realizes that the same four words could serve as tremendous comfort for people going through troubled times. Here’s what was written on the ring: “This, too, shall pass.”
Over the years, I’ve talked with literally tens of thousands of people, usually at the most trying times in their respective lives. Experience has taught me that people are best off dealing with their own feelings rather than suppressing them. At the same time, I know debtors need to make some very important decisions so that they can get through the bankruptcy process and move on with their lives. Since I’m a bankruptcy attorney in Indiana, the focus of my work is helping people take informed action to improve their financial circumstances. I think remembering the words engraved on Solomon’s ring might help my clients- and me – keep matters in perspective. However bad the stuff is that’s going on right then – this too shall pass!