The Real Secret is a different kind of self help. We debunk the empty promises of so many books and DVDs and bring you a simple, sensible approach to real life fulfillment. We don't believe you can achieve happiness, or anything else, by simply wishing for, thinking about or visualising it. Our book - and this blog - takes only the best of what really works and turns it into a positive, practical 12-step programme that will enable you to take control of your life and raise your happiness levels.

* Learn Happiness Habits from Positive Psychology * Tame your Fear with Cutting Edge Neuroscience * Control your Time and Money like an Entrepreneur * Build Better Relationships through one Tested Technique

The Real Secret is simple, sensible, scientifically supported self help
by Lucy McCarraher & Annabel Shaw


When The Wolves Are At The Door

When the wolves are knocking at your door, threatening to blow down your house, it’s only natural that you should feel a rising sense of panic. When the panic occasionally subsides you might find in its place an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. This will often show itself in the form of constant worries. Money worries can be pernicious, invading every other aspect of your life. They disrupt relationships both at home and at work and stop you from enjoying even the simplest of things - more troublesome in many cases than the crisis that gave rise to them in the first place.

Whilst we aren’t qualified to give advice on how best to deal with your financial affairs, what we can do is offer some advice on how best to withstand the damaging personal assault that a financial crisis often presents. More than ever, what you need now is to bolster your sense of control and not allow money worries to overwhelm your self confidence. The following advice is given with this aim in mind.

The Advice

Don’t panic. Even if the creditors are banging extremely loudly - you must not panic. This is absolutely vital to your survival because you won’t be able to do anything if you are panicking.

Don’t allow your money worries to overwhelm you. Worry is not going to help unless it’s directed. You need to be doing something - not worrying about something. With this in mind you need to follow this three step process:

Let go of money worries in a 3-step process.
First, you need to become aware that you are worrying. Worry involves having negative thoughts that seem to intrude, usually without your complete awareness. So start paying attention to what your thoughts actually are and whenever you find yourself thinking about a subject for more than a minute, mentally step aside to see what it is you’re thinking about. Then, if you find yourself worrying tell yourself to STOP. Take a deep breath.

Second, in a diary, notebook or on a computer, write down what you are worrying about and any ideas you have about the worry. In no more than two minutes. Absolutely no more than two minutes. When you find yourself worrying again, repeat the STOP and writing down exercise.

The final step is to choose a time and place where you are free to worry about the things you have written down. It could be an hour a week or an hour a day, depending on the severity of your problem. In this time you should do something about the particular worry. Take out your notebook and look at what you have written - then spend the allocated worry-time making a plan to address these concerns and carrying the plan out. At all other times you are free not to worry. Indeed, you are not allowed to worry except at the allocated time. If you need more worry-time, then scheule it - but otherwise you must not allow your life to be dictated by this worry which, if allowed to, will undermine all your efforts at survival in times of crisis. You need to take control of worry or it will surely control you.

Your money problems may be to do with having lost some or all of your income. If this is the case, you need to become creative about finding new sources of income and confident that you can and will find a way of earning money - perhaps a better and more enjoyable way than you have previously found. When you have spent your worry-time dealing with debts or other immediate problems, start to use these scheduled times to explore new sources of work. Ask yourself what are the talents you enjoy using and that people might want to pay you for - these might not be professional skills, but ones from your personal life. What have you always dreamed of doing, but never dared to try? Could you retrain; get a grant or a loan to do so? Who do you know, personally or professionally, who could support you now or help you find paid work? If you're not sure which way would be best, try a number of options and see which one(s) take off. If you can step outside your anxiety, you will find yourself able to think creatively and positively about your future. (You might also like to read our post on What To Do When You're Made Redundant)

In The Real Secret we have an exercise we call a "money diet". It's not about curbing excess spending (because when the wolves are at the door, you have no excess to spend), but about feeling more in control and learning the difference between what you want and what you need. We go into more detail in the book, but essentially we suggest you spend the next four weeks noting down every single penny you spend.

During that period, you should also cut down completely on unnecessary expenditure. By unnecessary we mean all those things you want but don't absolutely need. Think about every penny before you spend it, and ask yourself if it's absolutely necessary. Be really strict with yourself. Try to keep your list of expenses as short as possible. Think of it as an enjoyable, or at least useful, exercise rather than a burden you have to endure.  

During the four weeks of minimal spending, make sure you also double check everything, from your insurance policies, phone and energy tariffs to your mortgage, bank charges and credit card interest rates, and make sure they are all the cheapest you can get. Comparison websites such as, and make this easy – so spend a while on the Internet, or on the phone to your providers, making sure you are on the cheapest deals possible. Set up internet banking on all your accounts, if you haven’t already, and watch your income and expenditure on a daily basis. This is the easiest way to keep tabs on your spending and helps ensure you don’t get overdrawn. Make sure you know the dates of all bills to be paid each month and when direct debits, interest payments etc leave your account so that there is always enough in there and you don’t incur charges.

If you have trouble repaying debts, talk to the people or companies you owe and renegotiate your payments. If you still feel overwhelmed, or if the creditors really are threatening foreclosure,  immediately contact your Citizens Advice Bureau, local council and/or a local housing organisation which does not charge for their services. Anyone that charges for helping you sort out debt is to be avoided. Go online to find help from local organisations, self-help groups that can get you in touch with other people in similar circumstances and who can help at least by letting you know that you are not alone.

Most money worries are solvable and will pass, and most do have immediate steps you can take to improve your situation. You’ll feel better as soon as you start to take those steps. But they really do depend on you actually doing something to relieve the situation, the most important being talking to your creditors, going on a strict money diet, not allowing the worry of it all to overwhelm you and coming up with new ways to earn money.  
If you manage to cope with failure, even repeated failure, and go on to achieve success, you have what psychologists call self-efficacy. People with high levels of self-efficacy do not give up easily; they believe they have it in themselves to achieve their goals. When you believe in your own power to exercise control over your life, you are healthier, more effective and more successful. If you can move beyond your fear of the wolves at the door, meet the challenges they pose with assurance and overcome them, you will have laid the foundations of your own self-efficacy.

You will find more exercises to reduce anxiety and stress, build confidence and take control of your life in The Real Secret (UK), or The Real Secret (USA)

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