Friday, August 26, 2005

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: THE 'M' WORD


A COUNTRY WHERE FLOWERS ARE PRICED SO AS TO MAKE THEM A LUXURY HAS YET TO LEARN THE FIRST PRINCIPLES OF CIVILIZATION. Chinese Proverb.

What's the "M" word? No it isn't Marriage, though that strikes fear into the hearts of many; it's the "M" word, MONEY.

The coming reform in the bankruptcy system shows the state we're in as a nation.

Credit card debt has escalated out-of-control in the US, fueled by the difficult economy, and the volatility of the stock market after 9-11, which caused many seniors to lose their 401Ks ... while everyone you see owns a cell phone, regardless of age, income or station in life.

US society has become increasingly materialistic, and values have shifted.

Take the medical profession, for instance. It's clearly on the fault line. While you may resent what doctors make, or what you think they make, (or made in the past), it's an old and honorable profession, demanding years of preparation, and then often brutal hours in practice. It also happens we need doctors. If money should follow hard work, even sacrifice, for decades doctors put in the longest hours. (That other occupations are now demanding an 80-hour week is nothing to be proud of as a society.) Now they struggle with malpractice insurance reaching $200k a year, which, combined with office, equipment and even rudimentary staff makes a mighty large nut to crack, so they're hawking Shaklee out the side door, while teenagers barely shaving make fortunes with a dot.com porno site.

Medical care is essentially available to all in the US, and affordable to none. HMOs have commandeered the fields of medicine and psychology, and insurance companies now dictate who gets what for how long, setting the prices and standard of care, essentially deciding who lives and who doesn't. By what possible justification can an insurance company cut off Temador for a brain tumor patient in the middle of the course of treatment? Because it's too expensive?? What, then, is insurance for?

Doctors burn out, stacking patients like cords of wood in their waiting rooms. A recent article revealed we now wait 2-5 hours to be seen. Hardest hit are the primary care physicians, the ones who do the hard work of diagnosing. We wait 3 hours, while they must see 10-15 patients an hour to turn a profit. What kind of diagnosis are you going to get in 2 minutes?

Meanwhile seniors who lost their 401Ks in the stock market after 9-11 wonder how they can live on social security, while their grown children wonder how they'll provide for their parents as well as their children(and themselves), and what social security may look like when its their turn.

These are societal problems, and we do about them what we can. What we always have under our control is our selves. So how does the individual manage to be fiscally responsible amidst the chaos? It reminds me of losing weight, or should I say maintaining a healthy and near-ideal weight.

THE QUESTION: Why do you want a lot of money? Why do you want to lose weight?

If you're losing weight for the man in your life, or your mother, it isn't going to work. Even if you're doing it for your doctor it won't work. It has to be for YOU. Meanwhile you're deluged with photos of pencil thin, highly air-brushed, totally unrealistic models to make you think you're somehow defective.

Likewise, if you want a lot of money to show off for others, you're likely to spend money on things that don't matter in the long run, don't bring happiness, don't bring you the esteem you want, and land you in debt. You'll be 35 thousand dollars in debt instead of 35 lbs. overweight.

What's a good reason to maintain an ideal weight? What's a good reason to live within your means and establish a healthy interface with money?

THE ISSUE: Both weight and money pertain to our personal lives and ought to do with how we feel about ourselves -- just between us and us; while in reality they usually have to do with how we want others to perceive us. Or how they make our ego "feel".

THE GOAL: How can you extract yourself from external pressure and judgment, and establish a weight and budget that work for you? How can you become responsible for your weight and your finances, setting goals that will benefit you, and sticking to them? What's your intent? How will you accomplish it?

THE EMOTIONS: How do you feel when you're 15 lbs. overweight and get winded climbing stairs, give in to the temptation of the Krispy Kremes in the break room, and hear from your doctor all the time about your bad cholesterol?

How do you feel when you're $15,000 in debt, panicy about paying your bills, continually giving in to the temptation to charge on the Internet, and watching your debt-to-asset ratio climb daily?

How does it make you feel emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually?

THE REPTILIAN BRAIN: Who's in charge of all this? The reptilian brain or the neocortex? Eating is an instinct, basic to survival, but most of us are so far from that place, it's irrelevant. It's about impulse gratification and pleasure. And so is money, isn't it, beyond the sheer necessities (just like food). We want. We take. We see others have it. We must have it. We eat and spend in a knee-jerk fashion because it's habit, because we want to impress others, because everyone else is doing it, or because we're afraid to stop and take a look at what's going on.

AT STAKE: Your self-esttem. Your self-respect. Your health. We don't feel good about ourselves for long because we have a new car, a hot fudge sundae, or a great new outfit. We feel good about ourselves when we behave according to our values.

Suze Orman, the great money guru (brave woman) wrote: "We are all powerless as children, and money looms so powerfully.... We don't grow up to claim our financial power until we look money directly in the eye, face our fears, and claim that power back."

She suggest you take a look at money in your life and figure out your feelings about it. Our emotions are there to give us information.

Says Orman: "In all realms of life it takes courage to stretch your limits, express your power, and fulfill your potential; it's no different in the financial realm," says Orman. "In a buy-now, consume-now culture like ours, it takes courage to make the decisions today that may make us rich tomorrow. It takes courage to face up to the facts of old age and mortality and to prepare for them. It also takes courage to live generously, regardless of your financial state of affairs. ...It takes courage to ask for what you want. And it takes courage to live honestly, wisely, true to yourself ...and true to your desire for more."

If you want to be RICH some day, please take the time RIGHT NOW to define what "rich" looks like and feels like. Is it only about money?

If you want to be rich SOME DAY, why don't you want to be rich JUST NOW? How are you going to get by just now without all the things that "rich" brings? Are you willing to go weeks without a vacation, days without playing with your child, months without looking into the eyes of your lover, years before you stop and smell the roses? What kind of rich are you willing to give up in order to be what kind of rich?

Take some time to investigate your relationship with money; your emotional relationship to money.

graphics from www.clipart.com

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