12/10/2009 05:18 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

You Are Not Your Debt

When you lose everything it might seem that loss is all that's left to identify with. Loss is a situation not a state of mind. Just like you weren't what you had, you aren't what you lost. Nor are you what you owe. Indenture isn't identity. A financial obligation does not oblige you to identify with your debt.

Consider this. Say, you owe me money, you agree to pay back and you eventually do pay me back. What does that mean? That you have integrity, that you have ethics, that you are true to your word, in other words, that you are true to your self. Debt is an opportunity to manifest yourself in all your self-congruent essence. Paid debt is evidence of a self that knows how not to run from itself. So, if you are buried in debt, and you are meeting your financial obligations, paying back what you owe, penny by penny, even if the world still owns everything but your essence, consider yourself in the process of getting a great bargain. After all, payment after payment, you are paying for the privilege to be true to yourself. And, if you are doing it, apparently what you are getting merits the costs. After all, anything of value has a cost. Only trash is free. If you are meeting your financial obligations, you are paying for your peace of mind, for a sense of integrity, which is obviously worth every penny you owe. Recognize that the fact of the debt has much less to say about you than what you are doing about it. Recognize that even if feel like a serf, you are still a self. Conclude: I am not my debt!

Pavel Somov, Ph.D., author of "Eating the Moment," "Present Perfect: a Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need to Control (July 2010), and "The Lotus Effect" (fall 2010)