Ever wonder why you make really stupid decisions, especially when you are overwhelmed, worried or distracted?
Perhaps you are focused on one task, like dealing with a difficult child or employer, and you completely miss a really important appointment or buy something you did not want.The researchers at Princeton, Harvard and the University of Warwick ran experiments on low-income people who were worried about debt and found they lost 13 IQ points (somewhat like when you lose a night’s sleep and feel really stupid the next day). In this report in Science Magazine they say this loss in IQ points is the same as the difference between chronic alcoholics and normal adults.
You might be told that being in debt shows weakness or irresponsibility, but that is definitely not so.
Eldar Shafir, one of the authors of the study, write ““coping with not just a shortfall of money, but also with a concurrent shortfall of cognitive resources.” In simple English this means that dealing with debt reduces your mental ability to handle other tasks “it makes you stupid”.
Do you wonder why you miss a turn when driving or fall in a hole while walking?
It is because you were concentrating on something else – talking, texting, listening to a talk show. The problem is that we have a limited amount of mental bandwidth, so doing one task reduces our ability to do another. Hence, why car accidents are more likely to happen when someone is on the cell phone.
Those in debt are spending more of their mental bandwidth on finding a better job, better place to live or going to night school which reduces their attention to staying on their food budget or remembering to change the oil in their vehicle.
“When your bandwidth is loaded, in the case of the poor,” Shafir says, “you’re just more likely to not notice things, you’re more likely to not resist things you ought to resist, you’re more likely to forget things, you’re going to have less patience, less attention to devote to your children when they come back from school.”
Reduce the distractions – such as dealing with debt. Perhaps bankruptcy is the doorway to regaining your full mental capacity. Which means you will have more time to be with family or be a better employee (keep your job) and plan for a more relaxed future.
We have all made really stupid choices in life – some we learned from and others we were doomed to repeat until we decided to stop. Now is the time to find ways to make smarter decisions – surround yourself with happy, self-sufficient people. Life cannot be lived by yourself (or should not be).
If you open your heart and head you will find the answer – but you have to look.
Diane is a well respected Arizona bankruptcy and foreclosure attorney. As a retired law professor, she believes in offering everyone, not just her clients, advice about bankruptcy and Arizona foreclosure laws. Diane is also a mentor to hundreds of Arizona attorneys.
*Important Note from Diane: Everything on this web site is offered for educational purposes only and not intended to provide legal advice, nor create an attorney client relationship between you, me, or the author of any article. Information in this web site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an attorney familiar with your personal circumstances and licensed to practice law in your state. Make sure to check out their reviews.*
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