It’s hard to be a consumer these days. Whether you’re shopping for groceries, clothing, or household goods, one thing is consistent: inflation has affected prices and we are incurring higher costs.
It’s easy to measure the impact of a higher cost of living. It puts a dent in our bank accounts, and we modify our attitude about what’s most necessary which then extends shopping habits in response. Simply put, rising financial costs are the gentle push that sets an elaborate domino effect in motion.
Beyond the clear consequences of increased costs are less obvious but perhaps more insidious effects. For instance, the stress associated with higher prices and financial strain can lead to health issues, such as sleep loss and high blood pressure.
Rising financial costs are out of our control, so we can’t easily prevent the dominos from falling. We can, however, mitigate some of the non-financial costs to our well-being that emerge in other areas of our lives.
Non-financial costs are harder to measure, but just as impactful
The non-financial costs we absorb in life typically correspond with personal choices. A simple example is choosing to stay up late when we know we should go to bed to get adequate sleep. At some point, this choice takes a toll, whether in the form of needing extra caffeine to function or snapping at a loved one from feeling under-rested.
Another scenario that highlights non-financial costs in our lives is a networking event. If someone decides to skip such an event at a critical time in their career, it could mean not cultivating an important relationship and impeding professional advancement.
Many of us also minimize the value of our hurts, or lower our expectations of our friends and loved ones. While some amount of coping and adaptation is a necessary part of healthy functioning, too much of either means incurring damaging costs.
With awareness of how various types of costs show up in our daily lives, we can turn to costs related to behavior in relationships, including the one with yourself. Ironically, this type is harder to identify, but often, it wreaks the most havoc.
How to balance your internal checkbook
When costs accumulate, it’s because we’re not properly acknowledging them. Either we suppress our feelings, which is like being stuck in a deep hole and inviting others to shovel dirt into it. Or, we distance ourselves from others because of a perceived need to protect emotions — like building a dam.
Understanding and addressing the non-financial costs affecting our day-to-day lives starts with self-reflection. First, we must take an honest inventory of the forces in our lives and how they make us feel. This can happen through conversation, writing, or through counseling (self-reflection is an essential component of the Grief Recovery Method).
Just like financial budgeting, emotional budgeting sometimes means making changes. Changes don’t have to be dramatic — often, committing to a few small changes sets a positive domino effect in motion to make a big difference in the long run. Changes can be simple, like shutting off your smartphone at a certain hour of the evening, or more significant, like developing the habit to pause before transitioning to new activities/interactions.
You don’t have to adapt to non-financial inflation alone.
Sometimes, we need a little extra support. In my work, I often help clients who have racked up costs without necessarily knowing it. It doesn’t take the death of a loved one to make grief work helpful. If you’d like a little help assessing your non-financial costs, click here to learn more about grief work.