The impact of the economic and mental debt model. The world runs on debt! To some it might sound as an insane statement while others might ask if it’s not common knowledge. When thinking on debt the first thing that comes to mind is money. The amount of money which someone owes, the amount we owe or the amount the governments owe. But we don’t often think of mental and emotional debt.
All of us who live in a capitalist society are familiar with concept of financial debt. We or someone we know has/had a form of monetary debt. It could be a credit card, student loan, car loan, or mortgage. Debt has allowed many to quicker own products, get an education, kick start financial independence and in some cases simply survive. Most likely you live in a country that has a debt. Surprisingly the debt economy as we know it is relatively young, as it really took off after World War 2. But in actuality we have always operated on a form of debt.
Debt is formed from the day you are conceived, the debt to your parents! Think of statements such as “I owe it to my parents to …”. Some set out to achieve goals just to make their parents proud. In various cultures the ‘debt’ to one’s parents is constantly highlighted and stressed. We take care of our parents when they are of age with some simply stating that they do it because their parents took care of them when they were younger. Of course we should be grateful for everything our parents have done for us. But ultimately it was their choice to conceive and birth us. If you take a look at other species it is not always commonplace for the elderly to be taken care of by their young.
When it comes to friends and lovers we subconsciously also apply a debt model. We do favours for each other, we empower each other, and we simply have lots of fun with each other. But this is all still weighed on a mental and emotional scale. And when the scale is imbalanced statements such as ‘I am always the one to …’ or ‘He/she always expects me to …’ start to occur. We tend to create an expectation of what we or the other should do simply because of past events and a subtle sense of ‘owing’ the other. Most books on how to gain influence even give the tip of giving someone something or doing something for them as it creates a mental ‘I owe you’.
On the economic end there are countless examples of debt. Even something as simple as having a job is based on a debt construct. You do a task and at the end of the week/month you get your salary. And of course we have the different forms of credit. A huge percentage (more than 60%) of young adults between 20 and 30 are in debt, while that percentage significantly drops (approx. 40%) when looking at those 60 and above. One would say that this is very logical due to paying off various debts while growing older, climbing the workplace ladder etc. Besides what is curious is that the older you get, the sense of owing friends, family, parents and society also decreases.
The negative effects of debt are well documented. Such as anxiety, depression, various physical ailments and in extreme cases even suicide. These effects are not only due to financial debt but also occur due to mental/emotional debt. Debt takes away from the clarity that transactional relations have. When you exchange money for a product or any other type of direct trade. The scales remain balanced. What if you start to look at your relationships in the same manner? Would they become clearer and better? And what if one learns to decrease the sense of owing another earlier on in life, will they then also quicker decrease their financial debts?