Friday, April 24, 2009

New interview on Blue Roots Radio on Spending Addiction

in response to the credit crisis, Chris Johnson asks me about money and spending addictions, specifically credit card abuse.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Corruption is a human condition, a poison which all humans are capable of. When we are expressing our Buddha nature, we are incapable of corruption because we are motivated by compassion.

So how does corruption come into being. I believe that the basis for this is fear and a poor relationship with our own Buddha nature. We become convinced that the only way we can be happy is to be "better than". This is delusion. A person who violates others for his or her own gain is corrupt. This can occur on an interpersonal level or globally.

Interpersonally corrupt people are motivated to take advantage of others. They feel that they need to prove their "dominance" of others by making others feel small or less than. Unfortunately this feeling can only be fleeting because it is not real. So the corruption escalates or humility takes over when the corrupt person hits a bottom of sorts.

With addiction we get a false sense of power from the sensation of the "high". Most of our using times are spent chasing that original feeling of false equanimity that we feel in the early days of using. Since this is impossible to achieve, we then become ego driven to avoid the feelings of "incomprehensible demoralization" that our using causes. We are in aversion of the pain of our condition and aversion is one of the primary causes of suffering. This is a downward spiral that "gets worse, never better". Usually a person is ready to enter recovery when they realizes that they are living in a hell realm of addiction. They realized that this is not living, and there us usually a moment of clarity which involves a fervent desire to be truly alive. It can come after a near death experience or it can come for just being "sick and tired of being sick and tired".

We learn about the "horse thief" analogy once we find our way in sobriety. We learn that while using most of us are sociopathic. We lie cheat and steal as a way of life. Once we get sober two things can occur. We can become true to the traditions of recovery and become upstanding citizens or we can become a "sober horse thief". This is better known as a person who is a "dry drunk". This person is corrupt. Even though he may not use or drink, she may take advantage of others or will try to exert power and control over others. This person may have other behavioral addictions that have not been addressed such as sex addiction or codependency. These character flaws cause the person to live a life full of resentment and a drivenness to achieve a false kind of happiness devoid of compassion.
On a social or global level this tendency is just multiplied. It congeals with others of like mind. Sometimes it is called congress or the senate, sometimes it is called the corporation. Humans are drawn to form systems because we are social animals. These systems become corrupt because they are made up of individuals who lack true compassion. Occasionally we see a politician or a corporation that seems to be built upon compassion. It was Dennis Kucinich who proposed the development of a "Department of Peace"...he was laughed at for that. There are many companies who function on a more compassionate basis like Ben and Jerry's Ice cream....but they struggle and often have to sell to a less compassionate corporation who has "success".

The only way to heal from corruption is to understand that it is built upon delusional power and can only bring about unhappiness and suffering. We must become committed to principles of compassion and the end result will be happiness and humor. Just look at the Dalai Lama who most of the time is very goofy and childlike while running his beleaguered nation that was taken over by a corrupt country. He displays wisdom and skill and continues to be healthy and shows very little anger. He is a model for all of us whether we are people in recovery from whatever, or corporations or even nations.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Finding a therapist

(this is an excerpt from a book I am writing on living with ADHD)

Therapy is a relationship with someone who is a few steps ahead of you. It is important to shop around until you find someone you are comfortable with. I will share with you some of my own preferences when I was looking for a therapist. I wanted someone who would share her own life with me when it was instructive to the therapy we were doing together. I preferred a woman because I wanted someone I felt understood women's issues and who communicated the way that I did. I also did not want the hassle of falling in love with my therapist in a sexual way. I felt safer working with a woman. Since I was working on addictive issues I wanted someone who had been to meetings and preferably was recovering. If they were not recovering I wanted them to be familiar with the 12 steps and who had been trained in addictions and codependency. Lots of therapists don't even believe that codependency exists. In my opinion, they just don't get it. I also wanted someone who understood the whole medication thing and who was comfortable working with MD's who prescribe medications. I found out later while working with my favorite therapist, Sally, that I needed someone who knew about sexual abuse and wacky family dysfunction as well.

I got lucky. At the time I did not have any idea what I needed. I just needed to feel comfortable to share my secrets and to know that my therapist was not perfect or holier than thou. Now I know and that is why I am attempting to pass this along to you.

I think it is very important for a therapist to admit mistakes when they happen. I happen to have a very shoot from the hip, blunt, forthright style. Because of this I occasionally will hurt a clients feelings. If they feel safe enough with me they know that they can confront me and that I will make amends for my error. This builds relationship.

As you can tell I am not much for the detached professional demeanor style of therapy. Some people need this to feel safe. They don't want to feel that their therapist even has a life. They want the therapist to just be there for them. This is fine too. It just important to know what you need before you go in to interview a therapist. That first session should be an interview. Do not feel obligated to return if it does not work for you. Your therapist works for you. You can hire or fire her or him at will. Just be sure that you are not avoiding the truth by quitting a particular therapist because she said something that was upsetting. First confront them with the upset and then see how they handle it. If it goes well and you feel that you were heard and acknowledged, then you will feel safer to expose yourself and to be in her care.

Again, it is important to be able to have a functional relationship with your therapist. If you are being diagnosed, it is your right to know what your diagnosis is and to be able to process your reactions to that diagnosis. If your therapist wants to recommend you to be evaluated for medication, she needs to be able to tell you why and to have a basic knowledge of brain chemistry and how medications work.

If you are into spirituality in your life it is a good idea to find a therapist who is open and well versed in her own spirituality. I am a Buddhist practitioner. I tell my clients that up front. I also let them know that I know a lot about Christianity and metaphysics too. I am able to convert many of the principles in Buddhism to similar Christian principles. If you are not at all into spirituality, your therapist should shut up about the subject and respect your point of view. It is a very bad idea for a therapist to impose their own world view on a client. I always ask permission to share about what I know about Buddhist principles. If they say no, which actually is rare, I don't mention it again.

Most of all you need to feel safe and comfortable while having respect for your therapists knowledge. I look at the therapeutic relationship as being sacred. It has the potential of being much more intimate that regular relationships. For this reason it is important to have a therapist who will not mix up the relationship with friendship. You may love each other very much but only in this very sacred professional way. I go to meetings and often see clients there. I will do fellowship after the meetings in the form of lunch or coffee and I don't hesitate to share these moments with my clients as long as it is in the context of the meeting. This is very difficult in a small town and I recommend talking freely about it with your therapist. This relationship is so sacred that often clients want to be friends too. I explain in the most loving way possible that I would not want to violate or taint the amazing thing that we have called the therapeutic relationship. It is difficult for many clients when they hear this and they may feel rejected. I try to be as compassionate and loving as possible as I explain the sacred nature of the relationship.

I hope this is helpful to any of you who feel that you might need therapy. It is a great and very bumpy ride full of surprises, thrills, and disappointments. Good fortune on your journey!