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Living Beneath Your Means

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By Connor Roe, Summer Associate

I once had a history teacher who claimed that every motivation, problem, and goal throughout history was money. Now whether or not you agree with his extreme view or not, everyone has to admit: money is central. It's central to the vast majority of people's goals. It's central to how every nation operates. It's important. Today, money equals success. And the lack of money often equals failure. And failure is embarrassing.

Take for example, a middle class person, who may have made some poor investment choices, and as a result of the bad economy has fallen on hard times. His pride won't let him seek help from his friends. In fact, his pride won't even let him tell other people that he has financial hardships. If we are honest with ourselves, I think a lot of us would agree that we wouldn't tell others about that kind of trouble. It's frankly none of their business.

So the same man who has financial hardships is now trying to keep his secret. He doesn't want anyone to know he can't manage his money. So he keeps up appearances. He continues spending money just like he always has. In fact, he spends more. He now believes more than ever that success equals money and money equals possessions. So he buys more. He has a condition known as affluenza. Affluenza is a painful condition that results from the dogged pursuit of more. And affluenza leads to more serious conditions such as general anxiety disorder and depression.

This is how so many of our clients fall into their troubles with the law. A large number of our clients are addicted to drugs. But they are not the drug addicts you might picture. They don't always live in low rent apartments and meet up with shady dealers on dark street corners . They are depressed. Their depression often stems from affluenza and consumer debt. They have anxieties caused by keeping up appearances. They're stressed. They often feel helpless. And when people feel as if no one can help us, we attempt to help ourselves.

Our clients often try to treat their own mental disorders with products that they know to be soothing such as alcohol and prescription drugs. They won't see a doctor because seeing a doctor would not keep up their normal appearances. Most people only associate self medication with prescription drugs, but alcohol is a major part of it too. People do whatever it takes to temporarily soothe the mental anguish they feel that's caused by depression and anxiety. They'll have left over codeine from a surgery they had months ago. They medication stopped the pain then, it'll stop the pain now. And so they take the pills or they drink until they feel a little better (or nothing at all). This is self medication. However, self medication will only prolong the person's mental illness. Long term physical and mental dependency on drugs or alcohol will change the chemistry of the brain. As a result of that, the brain will no longer be able to fight off mental illnesses such as depression. People who self medicate end up in a cycle that leads them to our office after they make a serious mistake such as driving their car under the influence.

Money does not equal success. Happiness is success. People will be much happier if they avoid affluenza. They must live beneath their means.. In doing so they will not have to keep up appearances after they lose money from the bad economy. They won't fall into depression. And they won't feel the need to medicate themselves with whatever drug they can find. They will be happier.