This post is the second in a three-part series about how I went bankrupt, faced all of the emotions that it brought up and rebuilt my life. To learn how it happened, read about the big mistakes that led to my bankruptcy.
When I was 27, I realized my dream of opening an anti-aging spa. Initially, the spa was successful. Three years later, the spa was hemorrhaging money, and my lawyer recommended that I declare bankruptcy.
When my lawyer made this suggestion, I was crushed. I had poured my heart and soul into my business and had sacrificed so much to keep it going. I felt as though I was losing part of myself.
The bankruptcy impacted my wellbeing. I faced countless sleepless nights and feared that I would never have my own business again. I thought that no one would want to work with me.
I also felt embarrassed and stupid. I felt so much shame that I bottled up all my emotions and didn’t share them with anyone – not even my family. Every day, I battled with two versions of myself – Big Me and Little Me. Big Me put on a brave front while Little Me wanted to let all my emotions out. Big Me was always stuffing Little Me away, so these emotions wouldn’t surface.
Eventually, I learned how to honour these emotions. Here are five things I learned about surviving the emotional impact of bankruptcy:
- It’s not as scary as you think. The bankruptcy process is straightforward. Once you make the decision, you see a trustee and complete the paperwork. My trustee was very nice and didn’t pass any judgment on me. I had to submit monthly budget statements and was discharged after nine months. I also attended two lessons on how to manage money. It was a lot less scary than getting calls from collection agencies!
- Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Last year, almost 119,000 Canadians either filed for personal bankruptcy or filed a consumer proposal. You’re not alone. When you give yourself permission to make mistakes, it will be easier for you to get support, learn something new and make it right.
- Don’t let bankruptcy paralyze you. The shame you feel when you go bankrupt can be paralyzing. However, you need to work through it to move on to the next chapter in your life.
- Share your emotions. Find people who have gone through bankruptcy and ask them what you should do. You can also ask your family and friends for advice. Since you’ll get a variety of recommendations, pick the ones that empower you the most. When you share your emotions, you’ll overcome your challenges much faster. You’ll also learn that people are more forgiving than you think.
- Own it. The only way to overcome the stigma of bankruptcy is to own it. You need to be straightforward about what happened, take responsibility and move forward.
Before I filed for bankruptcy, I had two options: continue struggling with the business and working twelve-hour days, six days a week or go bankrupt and start a new life for myself.
When you go bankrupt, you no longer have huge debts that are pulling you into a black hole. It gives you a clean slate, freedom and renewed energy. You can reinvent yourself and dream a new dream.
Stay tuned for the final post in my series, where I’ll talk about how to recover and thrive after filing for bankruptcy.
Sophie Boyko is a Sales & Leadership strategist in the Greater Toronto Area. Sophie coaches and trains sales leaders and their teams on how to deepen communications skills, change behaviours in others and drive higher sales performance. Nominated by The Women’s Post as one of “The Women to Watch in 2013,” Sophie has worked with many of North America’s top producing companies including BMO, CIBC, RBC, Bell, Manulife Financial, First Canadian Title, Pfizer, Meridian and US Cellular to name a few.