Bankruptcy can be one of the toughest experiences you'll ever go through, but it's not the end of your world. In fact, with the right attitude, you'll get through this faster and easier than you might have thought possible.
1. Be Disciplined With Your Repayment Plan
If you filed under Chapter 13, you were ordered by the courts to repay your debts in certain amounts and by certain dates and it greatly behooves you to be disciplined with that plan. If you have to forego a few creature-comforts that you're accustomed to, such as the best channels on your cable subscription or dining out a few times a week for sushi or steak, so be it. Bankruptcy is hard enough and you don't want to complicate your situation by not adhering to the repayment plan that's been laid out for you.
If you filed under Chapter 7, your assets were mostly sold and distributed to those you owe money to; however, there are still bills to pay and being disciplined about those remaining responsibilities is the best way to start getting back on your financial feet.
2. Seek Professional Advice
Your bankruptcy attorney can still help you, particularly if you have any major plans for financial recovery. Starting a new business or making any type of investment might give you the edge you're looking for in putting your life back together, but such activity could also violate your bankruptcy terms. Talk to your attorney before making any major decision, whether or not you think it might interfere with your bankruptcy settlement. You don't want to be derailed after diving into a new venture and you certainly could do without the disappointment.
3. Find A Non-Financial Focus
Filing for bankruptcy can make you feel like you failed and that you need to get yourself right back into the game, to change your unfortunate position. While this may be normal, it's also a very intense frame of mind to be in. As you get your financial house back in order, make sure you have relaxing diversions to keep the stress under control. Try yoga (at home with a free app, instead of lessons in an expensive studio) as a means of recovering your self-worth and dignity, without there being any monetary attachment. Bankruptcy is not uncommon, nor does it make you any less valuable as a human being, but if you're having trouble recognizing your human worth and driven too hard by stress, you need some outlet. Yoga, meditating or a healthy hobby, such as music or pottery, should help you through this heavy time and beyond.
4. Accept The Support Of Friends And Family
You might be inclined to take offense if someone offers to pick up the tab when you go out for coffee or lunch, but try to resist that feeling. Your friends and family aren't taking pity on you, nor are they likely doing anything other than trying to support you in getting back on your feet. Accept the gestures of goodwill and try to return them in kind with things that don't cost you, such as offering a hand moving furniture, watching their children, painting a room or any other way your talents would be appreciated. The reciprocity will boost your mood and your ego, making win-win situations for everyone.
5. Remember What Got You Into Bankruptcy In The First Place
As you move forward, you don't want to be haunted or dragged down by the past actions that led to your bankruptcy, but you do want to learn from them. If you tend to have your head stuck in the clouds all the time, find someone who helps you keep your feet on the ground and follow their advice. If you tend to overspend on everything in your life, talk to a financial counselor or some other professional who will help you reign yourself in, so you can start fresh with improved habits. Getting back on your financial feet is one thing and may come quickly, if you're smart about it; however, staying on your financial feet for the long-term will probably be more challenging, especially if you revert to the ways and means that lead to the bankruptcy in the first place.
Although bankruptcy is hard on your wallet, lifestyle and psyche, it shouldn't feel like a permanent punishment or cause you to feel like you'll never be the same again. Whatever you lost is behind you, so long as you take lessons from it and the future in front of you is basically yours to define, if you have the right attitude, a good plan and smart guidance.