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No Pain No Gain

The Money Crisis Will Trump Pharmaceuticals

I read a great article in the New York Times Magazine entitled What Brand Is Your Therapist by Lori Gottlieb. It follows her discoveries around the transition of psychotherapy as an in-depth exploration into our selves into another superficial product in our social media culture.

She says, “What nobody taught me in grad school was that psychotherapy, a practice that had sustained itself for more than a century, is losing its customers. If this came as a shock to me, the American Psychological Association tried to send out warnings in a 2010 paper titled, “Where Has all the Psychotherapy Gone?” According to the author, 30 percent fewer patients received psychological interventions in 2008 than they did 11 years earlier; since the 1990s, managed care has increasingly limited visits and reimbursements for talk therapy but not for drug treatment; and in 2005 alone, pharmaceutical companies spent $4.2 billion on direct-to-consumer advertising and $7.2 billion on promotion to physicians, nearly twice what they spent on research and development.”

She had been attracted to psychotherapy because she thought was about as far away from marketing as you could get. “It was intense, personal work; it was as simultaneously simple and profound as sitting in a quiet room with another human being, technology turned off, helping them transform their lives in meaningful ways.” She had no no idea that the landscape had changed and that marketing, and even more than that, branding was now necessary in order to attract clients. In addition to websites, therapists in order to be successful are setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts, and creating blogs. Some therapists and psychologists are transferring to “coaching” which is more profitable and not as difficult. Some are even going so far as to indulge in “instant-messaging” therapy… Hello, Dr. Phil?

Because people now seem more interested in solutions to “problems” than in understanding themselves, therapy has often become more superficial and sometimes temporarily helpful, but as Lori says which I agree with “I wondered how long those feelings would last. Long-term change involves understanding the motivations, hidden conflicts and impulses that drive us.”

She goes on to say “If we give modern consumers the efficiency and convenience they want, we also have to silence our nagging sense that we may be pandering to our patients rather than helping them. Fast-food therapy palatable without any substance”.

You may be wondering what this has to do with money. It is connected, so bear with me. Some of you may find this a stretch, but I have no doubt about the connection.

Let’s start with the purpose of being a human being. Many believe we here to solve our personality and life problems so that we can have successful lives in the world. Or is it more true that planet earth is a mystery school of consciousness? Afterall, you can’t take any possessions with you (I heard that comedian Bob Hope said if he couldn’t take it with him, he wasn’t going!) and nobody on their deathbeds wished they’d worked harder at their jobs.

Let’s assume that becoming conscious is what we are doing here. Catalysts for consciousness include pain and trauma as they wake us up to our condition. These are not problems along the way that need to be solved, but rather are the way for us to become more aware of ourselves and more thus more conscious, to wake us up to our deeper true nature, our divine Beingness. If this is the purpose of being here, of being human, then we can’t escape looking at ourselves more deeply. If we are avoiding our pain and the inquiry into that pain which reveals who we are in our deeper nature, then there will be some other wake-up call- it is unavoidable.

This is what I say about pain in my book Money•Spirituality•Consiousness:

So why would we want to purposely contact the pain of the past? If we need to ask this question, there’s something we haven’t yet understood: the fact that unresolved pain never really goes away, and that our personality incorporates a conglomeration of strategies to try to sidestep it or pretend that the pain isn’t really there. But our pain keeps coming back to haunt us through repetitive difficult life experiences that eventually become impossible to ignore. When we can’t push these away or go around them, then we usually go to the next level of trying to cope with our pain. We believe that we need to change or fix something external to ourselves in order to be okay, so we try to do something “out there”—change our circumstances, change the other person, change the world. We don’t recognize that the past literally lives in our bodies, and that the world will obligingly reflect that pain until we wake up to the situation. The pain is in our cells, in our bodies, and it is waiting there for us to pay attention to it.

We also haven’t understood that in order to transform the pain, and to ultimately meet our potential as human beings, we have to touch that pain with consciousness, be present to it and understand it. Knowing this, we can now consider the possibility that we may have to change our relationship to our pain. Instead of it being an enemy or a threat, we can recognize it as a friend on the spiritual journey and as a beacon to awakening.

No Pain No GainIn our culture, as evidenced in part by the pharmaceutical statistics in the first paragraph of this blog,we have been increasingly repressing our pain, both physical and psychological with drugs and other avoidnaces to the point where we don’t believe we should have to experience any pain at all. What Lori Gottlieb is pointing to is that we are also avoiding our issues through fast-food solution-oriented therapies. We are leaning forward into a material life away from what we consider problems and our pain and thus further and further away from ourselves including where we really are emotionally and who we truly are. in our depths.

In the land where the spiritual and the material are out of sync, money is king. Pursuits that can keep people in balance are sacrificed in the headlong rush to acquire more and more stuff, and money itself becomes inseparable from almost all objects of desire.And that is getting reflected in a world of material consumerism and unsustainability. The growth required to fuel the personalities wants are at the expense of our home, our planet. Our money system is in crisis exactly because of this.

A life without depth is empty, a shell of its potential. So how do we reclaim a life that is both spiritual and material? How do we come to know ourselves as our depths, our Beingness, and how can we bring that awareness into the world so that we stop functioning solely on the surface of life? How can we integrate, mind, body, emotions, and spirit into the way we interact with our finances?

Right now, at this point in history, money has become cheapened into a medium functioning in the material world alone, and not the spiritual world of depth, and profundity, a world where the pursuit of the material is out of control. As spiritual teacher, author and philosopher Jacob Needleman says, in his book Money and the Meaning of Life “Intended originally as a device to help man live in two opposing worlds, money has become a technology for organizing our lives in hell.” For money to begin to take its place in the scheme of our lives, we have to start from where we are. We need to bring our awareness and our inquiry right to the intersection of the spiritual and the material , where all of our suffering seems to exist, before these two worlds can become one.

And since our relationship to money sits squarely in the same place, entering into our pain around money, exploring our issues around money, and increasing our understanding of our personal relationship to money can become one of the forces of the spiritual evolution of humanity. The challenge of living within an economic system that is not working for most of humanity is calling us to wake up and respond to this spiritual summons.

As ongoing currency debasement indicates that the money crisis is far from over, and in fact may be precipitating an even more devastating currency war than that that triggered the great depression, and some say even WWII (in fact as finance commentator James Rickards , author of Currency Wars, The Making of the Next Global Crisis, names his new DVD “Declassified: America’s Coming Economic Pearl Harbor)”, we won’t be able to avoid our pain.

We cannot avoid consciousness. It is our destiny. 

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