I had to actually cut this image out of my AARP magazine issue this month to see, if indeed, the two shades of gray (A + B) were, as claimed, the same. They are. What changes our perception is that big green cylinder casting a shadow.The point of the illusion is ‘how bad our brains are at judging absolute values.’

It would be more symbolic if the cylinder were red and had the word DEBT inscribed on it. Because it is the nature of debt to alter perception to everything around it. As in this illustration, it makes A not look like B.

As a coach, I hear the debting issue often. It can present as, “I need to make more money” or “I can’t afford to…”  Because debt exists, and the threshold depends on the individual, opportunities go unseen, fear replaces action and paralysis sets in.

My own debt threshold was $3000 in credit card debt back in 1996. I had enough to pay it off, but preferred the feeling of having that money in a savings account. Others are able to tolerate great amounts of debt. I’ve heard everything up to $8 million in debt. I don’t blink at the number of zeroes because the root cause is essentially the same.

I didn’t like the direction in which my debt was heading. Similar to the annual five pound weight gain, it crept along until I noticed I was getting fatter and that my monthly credit card payments were exceeding my spending quotas. I decided to do something about it. I paid off the $3000 and have never had a credit card balance since. In fact, I slowly went to 100% debit card usage in spite of the allure of airline points. I knew that I’d have more time to earn money if I stopped angst-ing over the debt issue and would be able to pay for flights without having to work the system. Have you ever calculated the hours lost to trying to book flights on points?

When debt or the green cylinder is in your way, you are not as available to see your options clearly. What you notice most of all is the debt. It can be blinding, terrifying and real. Solutions seem unreachable. Alternatives fade from view or hide in the shade. There’s just the DEBT and the fear mentality it fosters.

There is a solution, and it is to stop the debting behavior. Today.

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