Losing all your wealth – the real test of overcoming adversity


I recently joined Quora, I have not explored it fully, but from my limited involvement so far, it does seem to be one of the more serious and cerebral social media sites. Certainly not as frivolous as Facebook, hectic as twitter or pretty as Pinterest.

Quora lets members pose questions to attract answers from other members. The question “What does it Feel Like to Suddenly Lose all Your Wealth?” is a current question. I never been in the same category as the very wealthy, but I have had the experience of losing all my wealth, twice.

So far, there have been 28 answers and various comments and replies.

The answers provide many good examples of how vastly different people have overcome adversity or in a few cases have not. It is a fascinating read covering a range of emotions including feelings of liberation, anger, regret, loss, acceptance, gratitude and a better understanding of values.

Some answers indicate deep reserves of resilience, others less so. Some show  fear of the future and concern about what others think. Some tell of a greater appreciation of the value of friendship, others relate a sudden departure of friends along with the wealth.

A thread that runs through most, but not all cases, is the value of time as the great healer. Time will heal most wounds, financial, relationship and spiritual if you let it. Some of us do but some refuse to let the loss go, you cannot move on to new successes if you let the old failures poison your life.

Honesty was apparent in most cases, contributory factors stated but not exaggerated, few excuses.

Some of the people were young, had become wealthy very quickly and lost it all just as quickly. Others were older, had spent a lifetime building their wealth and lost it either over a period or suddenly. Some were victims of the financial crisis in 2008, others of fraud or legal action.

Some attributed their previous wealthy status to luck or being in the right place at the right time, others believed taking risks and hard work were responsible.

Hindsight is the perfect science, but I cannot help think that most of the cases, including the first of my own, could have been avoided or the effects reduced with better planning and better management. It’s an easy generalisation to make after the event, but relevant.

Is there a single magic key to finding resilience and overcoming adversity?

Probably not, but acceptance of the worst followed by action to both generate an income and keep the mind busy seem to be the way to climb out of the hole and  avoid depression.

Regret, anger, denial, worrying what others think, raging at the injustice or unfairness of it are all counter productive. They are natural response, I know because I have experienced all of them as will everyone who loses all their wealth, but they must be dealt with and put aside before we can start the recovery process.

It’s worth remembering too, that if you are alive, in reasonably good health and living in a Western democracy, you are more fortunate and have a better chance of a long, safe and comparatively good life than millions of others on this planet.

No matter how bad you think your position is, you don’t have to look far to find someone worse off.

Count what blessings you do have, treasure your remaining loyal friends and family, few as they may be, and find some part of your predicament to be grateful for, even if it is just the removal of a mountain of debt after a bankruptcy.

Wishing you success.

Peter Wright

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  2 comments for “Losing all your wealth – the real test of overcoming adversity

  1. Tim
    December 21, 2012 at 5:08 am

    Wonderful thoughts that caused me to think more deeply, thanks.

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