Sudden Wealth Syndrome (also known as SWS) has been around for a long time, but it hasn’t been formally diagnosed as a psychological issue until very recently.
Sudden Wealth Syndrome is viewed by people who do not have it as an oxymoron and think it is a ‘very good problem to have’. In reality, for those who do experience it, it can feel like the total opposite.
The definition of Sudden Wealth Syndrome according to Investopedia:
Sudden Wealth Syndrome (SWS) refers to a psychological condition or an identity crisis in individuals who have become suddenly wealthy.
It’s important to note that people who suffer from SWS are thrust into it and it’s often NOT a choice. However, it is a choice to get help with it.
Are You Suffering from Sudden Wealth Syndrome?
When working with clients with SWS – I have noticed this pattern of the old version of them versus the new version.
The OLD you:
You were going through life, minding your own business, facing the usual struggles we all face from time to time, and your life felt predictable and you knew where you stood making ends meet but you’ve always had a burning desire to want a little bit more…
You’ve dreamed about making your own money and watching youtube videos about people who have made loads of money and perhaps even invested in ‘get rich quick schemes’ or maybe having the odd flutter on the sweep stakes now and again. You’ve been a risk taker, and sometimes these have worked and you’ve had some small wins, and sometimes, they have really not been fruitful at all.
It’s never quite happened for you in a big way, but you just keep on trying, and then SUDDENLY, out of nowhere it happens …BINGO!
The NEW you:
So, it’s finally happened!!! That mind blowing realisation that you’ve suddenly come into a huge windfall of wealth.
Once you stop pinching yourself, and realise what has happened is not a dream, you then begin to face the challenges of this new world.
You have now, whether you like it or not, entered a new world that demands your attention in a new way. You feel as if you have entered into an almost dream-like state – a fantasy reality, that has suddenly blown your old reality apart.
Who Exactly Are These Suddenly Wealthy People?
This sudden windfall of wealth can happen in many different ways for example, an unexpected large lottery win, a substantial cryptocurrency spike, or a life-changing inheritance.
The Sudden Wealth Syndrome also affects people when they discover sudden fame and notoriety – finding themselves in the spotlight of media frenzy and attention. Sports Personalities, Reality TV Stars, Talent Competition Winners as well as Viral Bloggers and Vloggers are good examples of this.
The key word here is SUDDEN, this suggests that it has happened fast and is something that is unexpected and unplanned.
It’s an instantly life changing moment and this sudden change in circumstances is what causes the feeling of emotional overwhelm and mental confusion.
People who experience Sudden Wealth Syndrome (SWS) can suffer with a spectrum of detrimental psychological health issues and negative symptoms resulting in poor emotional well-being.
What are the Symptoms of Sudden Wealth Syndrome?
The classic symptoms below need to be identified quickly and dealt with appropriately before they cause the problems that lead to an identity crisis.
The typical list of symptoms are:
High States of Anxiety
Long Periods of Insomnia
Fear of Losing Status
Loss of LogicalJudgment
Severe Guilt or Shame
Feeling Lonely or Isolated
Obsession with Power (Megalomania)
The 3 Behaviour Models of Sudden Wealth Syndrome
As soon as this life changing monetary event happens to us, our brain either goes into one of 3 behaviour models and can also bounce between all 3 of them:
Carefree and Crazy Behaviour Model
Cautious and Concealing Behaviour Model
Careful and Calculated Behaviour Model
Carefree and Crazy Behaviour Model
Word gets out quick and spreads like wild-fire that you have come into a lot of money. Suddenly your popularity and power grows and people you haven’t heard from in a while begin to come back into your life and people you don’t know want to know you. Everyone wants a piece of you. Your generous spirit takes over and you find yourself spending vast amounts on yourself, and other people. You wear your wealth like a badge of honour and you are loving this new powerful life that has opened up many more doors and opportunities.
It’s dynamic, it’s exciting , it’s dopamine overload, and this gets better and better as expenses and expectations get higher and higher.
You believe you are now financially free and your behaviour goes into ‘spend spend spend’ and ‘save, save, save’ becomes a thing you used to do and don’t feel the need to do any more!
This behaviour model is fast paced, fun, exhilarating. It’s a wild ride, and takes a lot of energy and personal fuel to keep going.
Think of it as getting into a racing car on a racing track when you have been used to driving a normal car on a normal road. The new pace takes a while to get used to, and once you do, and if you keep going, getting faster and faster without the necessary pit stops, this can get a little bit dangerous.
The problem with staying in this fast and frivolous mode and not managing it properly is…
There only needs to be a tiny malfunction to cause a bad crash. It’s also worth remembering a basic law of physics – What goes up fast, can also come down fast.
Cautious and Concealing Behaviour Model
You are plunged into a new world. A world that you don’t know how to navigate. You may feel emotionally overwhelmed with big choices, huge decisions and lots and lots of questions that you don’t know how to answer.
With all this sudden change in your status and identity, you can easily feel as if you are drowning in too much information that can often be conflicting and confusing.
So, to protect yourself, you go into a self preservation mode, a form of hiding and being secretive.
You feel as if your precious assets need to be protected, you need to be exceedingly discreet and keep people you trust close. Your suspicious ‘threat’ radar gets turned on and this can easily turn into over protection, worry about your safety, security and privacy.
If this sense of being on continuous ‘high alert’ continues, you may start feeling very isolated, lonely and territorial about your surroundings, environment and possessions. This can lead to subsequent feelings of deep guilt and shame – which moves into a form of imposter syndrome and self doubt. Your brain will go into FIGHT, FLIGHT, FREEZE – which is basically HIGH STRESS.
When we stay in high stress states for too long, this leads to mental, emotional and physical health issues. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lose the ability you once had to use your logical mind.
Fear can take over which is an emotional launch into the irrational part of your mind. The brain releases stress chemicals when fear, anxiety and worry is present in the system. The stress chemicals are noradrenaline and cortisol. These are very useful chemicals to quickly get us to safety when we feel as if our life is in danger, but if they remain in the system for too long, this can result in paranoid thinking, obsessional tendencies and deep depression.
The problem with staying in this mode and not managing it properly is…
You lose your sense of logic and rational thinking. Your emotional mind takes over and your reality and sense of identity can be altered in a problematic way.
Careful and Calculated Behaviour Model
People who are successful in handling sudden wealth are also the people who are successful in managing their mindset.
These people quickly take control of this sudden turn of events. They remain logical as well as emotionally stable.
They understand how to control their emotions by speaking to people they trust. They take the information they are given and break it down into chunks and ask the right people to explain things to them when they don’t understand.
They are methodical with their approach to dealing with this big change.
These people have a healthy balance with being careful and thinking about their future as well as enjoying this sense of freedom that they are now experiencing.
They work out quickly how to connect with like minded people and prioritise managing their mind and thinking in a emotionally intellectual way.
It’s easy to get swept along with charismatic personalities around you, but those in this category know how to remain grounded and rooted in reality.
They take all the necessary precautions to stay safe and feel protected, but also understand that they have lots of new opportunities to explore to connect, deepen relationships and grow their assets wisely.
They learn from any mistakes they make quickly and have the proper protocols and the right people around to support and help them. They understand the importance of looking for solutions rather than dwelling on problems.
They understand the fundamental concepts of money management as well as mind management.
The people in this category are always aware of the bigger picture and prioritise practices that help their mind stay relaxed, calm, rational and in control.
These people know how to avoid getting overwhelmed by Sudden Wealth Syndrome.
How To Avoid Getting Sudden Wealth Syndrome
My name is Dipti Tait. I’m a Behaviour Psychotherapist, and I have put this blog together with some other resources to help you if you feel suddenly overwhelmed by this issue.
The growth mindset is a lovely wise balance of healthy and wealthy mindset, and often when we are thinking about our financial affairs – a lot of financial advice we receive, is just that – Financial.
However, as a Psychotherapist and Behaviour Expert, and someone that has a wealthy portfolio of clients myself, I believe that there needs to be a much better system in place of supporting financial advice with good quality psychological and emotional advice.
Money is a huge cause of anxiety, worry and distress. Either because we don’t have enough of it, we worry about losing what we do have or we suddenly have too much of it and don’t know what to do next.
It is essential that we all, in this current climate of financial transparency, freedom of information and decentralisation, we most definitely need to be educated on how to deal with it and learn how to create a healthy wealthy mindset and this will ensure we remain in the much more balanced Careful and Calculated Behaviour Model.
People who are in this category and balanced state of mind are often the ones who have been practicing what top Silicon Valley CEO’s use to stay calm in times of extreme overwhelm.
The repeated practice of playing my audios while you sleep will get your brain to work smarter in a much more intellectual way.
Your brain will release the SWS stress while you sleep and you will wake up feeling so much better and therefore begin to make good informed decisions and proper calculated choices.
You will have a clearer thought process and be able to take the time you need to get the right protocols and the right people in place to manage this new way of life.
I recommend that you listen to my audios while you sleep regularly as a maintenance system for managing your mind. The great bonus is, is that my audios work on maintaining your healthy and wealthy mindset WHILE YOU SLEEP – which in my opinion is PRICELESS!
Look after your MOST PRECIOUS ASSET, and it will reward you by looking after you!