03/25/2013 02:22 pm ET Updated May 25, 2013

Fearlessly Facing Your Tax Season Angst

Tax season is here and with it comes high anxiety, stress and fear. Paying taxes forces people to review earnings and expenses and can highlight their money woes. It can also lead to a feeling of powerlessness. No one likes to be told what to do, especially when it comes to their hard-earned money. For many, paying taxes is like being forced to look at one's faults, weaknesses, and failures, and this is not pretty.

People literally become physically sick at the mere thought of preparing taxes. People describe to me having to pay taxes in much the same way they talk about their fear of going to the dentist, or even flying. As a result of this fear, they do what so many others do: They avoid it for as long as possible. They look at ways not to gather their tax forms, not to make an appointment with their accountant, and not to do that which is required of them by law. With most fears, the anticipation is often worse than the actual act. Taxes are no exception. This fear cuts across all demographics and socioeconomic status. I have multimillionaire patients who fear taxes just as much as the average Jane and Joe. Fear knows no bounds.

Here's how to kick the fear:

  • Educate yourself. Many people fear what they don't know and don't understand. Taxes can be confusing and complex. Talk to experts, make an appointment with an accountant, or read a user-friendly book. This will help you to understand what you're doing and will provide a sense of control.
  • Know where your money is going. Contrary to what you may think, not all the money is wasted or goes to programs that have nothing to do with you. Consider for just a moment how roads are maintained and fire and police personnel are paid: your taxes.
  • Reframe your thoughts. Rather than thinking "I hate paying taxes," think: "It's the law and keeps our infrastructure in place and society running smoothly. I'll do my part."
  • Don't delay. Doing so only prolongs the inevitable and increases the anxiety. Take care of business now.

Check out my book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days to learn how to conquer your other fears and reach your goals.

For more by Jonathan Alpert, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.

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