He was angry. Very angry. “Unbelievable! I had to sell my house for a lot less than the mortgage on it. So, I am forced to get a loan from the bank which caused the crisis that devalued my house in the first place! ”, he said, while his face colored dark-red.
Many people are in the same boat, myself included.
“At least you did sell it.”, I tried.
That didn't lighten the mood at all.
“This whole problem would not exist ifthose banks had not caused that crisis in the first place”, he responded.
Me: "And I guess that same bank is also responsible for you getting divorced, which is why you are selling the house", I thought.
No, I did not tell him that. Mainly because I am not that rude, but also because by now I realized that through his eyes, he is a victim of the world around him. He is never lucky, (his divorce seems to be the best thing that happened to him recently). Everything that happens to him, no matter how small, is always someone else’s fault. I felt truly sorry for him. What a sad place to be in.
No amount of positivity can prevent bad or sad things from happening to us. People will die, disasters do happen, dogs will poop on the street, it will rain every now and then when you are on a walk.
But there is also no amount of bad news that will take away your ability to choose how to respond. Think about it: in the grand schema of things, how bad is it really?
I pointed him to the Fair Finance Guide, more specifically the Dutch version (Eerlijke Bankenwijzer). A guide that provides information on how banks go about their business, how transparent they are in what they do. You can make a difference by switching to another bank. One that is clear about its bonus structure for example. Or, more importantly in my opinion, one that does not invest in companies that develop nuclear weapons, that take nature and human rights, (more) seriously. Right now, there is no bank that scores all happy smileys on all subjects, but there are clear differences between one or the other.
His response to the guide was to be expected: "You don't believe that &@$#%^!, do you? All banks are evil, they are all scum."
Yes, I do believe that &@$#%^!. I also know that I do not know a lot about the banking world other than what I hear and read or see (The Wolf of Wall Street, anyone?).
A bank is still a bank. A company whose sole purpose is lending and borrowing money. And I fail to understand why I have to pay 8% on the money they borrow me, but I get 1,5% on the money I have given to them.
However, we do need to have a bank account. So, switching to one that is not as evil as the one you are with now, is an improvement.
It is important to realise that you can decide how to respond. Life is going to be a very long, sad ride if you feel you are at the mercy of everything around you. Life will be a lot brighter if you take the time to sit back and think about what happened, and consciously respond.
It is a continuous proces of reflecting and learning. I am very grateful that I am surrounded by great friends and family, many of whom are able to deal with the most difficult of situations in amazingly uplifting ways. I want to be like that. And I often fail. But, I am also improving.
Take a moment to sit back and relax. Just remove any distractions for five minutes and think about the people around you. What have they done in tough situations to get through it? Is there something you can apply to your situation?
And finally, show your gratitude to those who inspired your change. Say "thank you" and feel better.
Image credit: Joi Ito