Dysfunctions, Addictions & the Financial Burning Bus – Part 3

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In parts 1 and 2 I told you about Kevin: A guy who implements even simple marketing assignments with difficulty, not because they’re hard, not because he doesn’t ‘get it’, but because somehow his shame and inner ick get in the way.

He wrote me a candid email about his battles with gambling and porn addictions. He said, “I think inside there is a fear that with wealth would come total destruction. In my heart I know I’m not that far off that as it is.”

If you only knew how many people fight these identical battles every day. I think it’s pretty much everybody.

I wrote Kevin back and told him a story.

Today let me tell you that same story, a slice of my own life. It isn’t about financial demons – it’s about a different set of demons. But demons are demons:

It’s April 2007, almost exactly 5 years ago. I’ve been pumping hard for 5 years almost nonstop. I’ve built up my AdWords reputation, I’m making a high six figure income. My business has just barely reached a spot where I might be able to coast for a little bit and catch my breath.

I’m tired. I have this idea that I’m going to take a little sabbatical, do some reading, recharge my business brain cells and charge forward again.

My, uh, ‘inner child’ had different plans.

I knew I had a bunch of emotional junk I had to get sorted so I was talking to this therapist. There was this one day, we were talking. She wasn’t trying to have a religious conversation with me; she was just asking open ended questions. Some question she asked made me think of the Prodigal Son story that Jesus told.

In the story, the son tells off his dad. He demands his inheritance, which was equivalent to saying “FU dad, I wish you were dead,” and heads for Las Vegas with a bag o’ cash.

After his half of the family estate has been squandered on whiskey and prostitutes, then a short stint as a pig farmer, the son decides to come back…. maybe he can get a job as a hired hand on dad’s farm.

Dad sees him from far off, runs to meet him. Warmly embraces him, welcomes him as his son, and throws a huge party.

I’m talking to the therapist and suddenly this prodigal son movie in my mind is shooting from a different camera angle.

Before that, I had always been standing off to the side, watching the drama from a distance.

But this time, *I* was the son and suddenly the dad was embracing ME. I was feeling his arms around me.

I had never seen or felt that story that way. It had never been about me. Suddenly it was. It was an odd and beautiful feeling.

Now… if this were a fiction story or a 3rd rate sermon, I would report that something wonderful happened on the inside and my scars got fixed up and I left the therapy session a healed man.

Well…. that’s not quite what happened.

What happened was, some big chunk of garbage got dislodged, pried loose. The Big Scab came off. This chunk of garbage was now floating around, trying to get out. I physically felt the shift. Something was different and I didn’t like it.

All this happened literally at 9:45 on a Thursday morning and now I had this flotsam and jetsam that I had to get rid of. I didn’t know how to get rid of it. I was swimming in depression and sadness.

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I was not even close to normal for the next 6 months. In fact I was barely functional. I managed to send out the emails and show up on the teleseminars, but that was about it. I did not find business or any of my hobbies to be even remotely interesting. All I could think about 24/7 was getting rid of this ick. It was like Stephen King meets 4 Hour Work Week.

I had no grid for this. I could go into what all that garbage consisted of, but I don’t really have to, because it’s all the same garbage you’ve got. Mom stuff. Dad stuff. Sex stuff. Women stuff. Marriage stuff. Addictive behavior. Anger. Frustration.

Need I mention that money doesn’t fix any of those problems?

Suddenly I was obsessively searching for answers. As you know, I live in a world of geeks freaks and misfits – as well as incredibly innovative, creative, outside-the-box people – so not only did I have access to regular therapy stuff, I had access to all kinds of other approaches.

You may have noticed, I have an obsessive personality. So when I’m after something, I’m relentless.

Prospective solutions came out of the woodwork. (Remember… because of what I do for a living, I’m privy to all manner of “off the grid” approaches to just about any problem you can imagine, including “emotional junk” problems.)

I experimented with NLP, EFT “tapping” on acupressure points, positive affirmations, Left Hand-Right Hand journaling (“non-dominant hand exercises”), Theophostic prayer, extended group therapy (I spent a week of total immersion in California with six other people, facilitated by an experienced counselor, working on our ‘stuff’. Grueling. Incredibly insightful.) Anything to get rid of this pain.

Sound Therapy, Energy Healers. Long long deep deep self-indulgent conversations with my friends about our respective “junk”.



Long stretches of prayer, begging and groveling and all that.

Trying to get my wife to fix me. (Go ahead and guess how well that worked.)

Oh yeah, and trying to get my female friends to kiss my boo-boos and make it all better. (That is not a path I recommend either.)

Preliminary conclusion, after year 1 of hell:

“Analyzing your problems… waxing eloquent about what your mom did to you when you were 4 years old… rehearsing the fights with your dad…. doing all that to make yourself better is like trying to fix the Operating System on your computer by re-arranging the icons on your desktop.”

In other words, explaining it, knowing about it and talking about it doesn’t necessarily do one bit of good.

Knowing that you sabotage yourself, and even why you do it, doesn’t keep you from doing it again. It just makes it all the more obvious you how irrational you are.

Not only that, if your only weapon is will power, you eventually cave in. It’s only a matter of time.

These problems cannot be solved at the same level with which they were created. They must be solved at a deeper level.

In the next installment, I’ll tell you more of my conversation with Kevin.

Perry Marshall

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

One Comment on “Dysfunctions, Addictions & the Financial Burning Bus – Part 3”

  1. I have to write here.

    Thanks for sharing your deep lessons of life. When you have come to a point in life and stop blaming others for whatever tragic lessons life has thrown at you then you are at that point in your life where realization of who you are stands before you.

    At this point the meaning of life changes for you and you have a different perspective of how you view the world through your mind. Your understanding of those life scenes that is now in your history all makes sense. When you can sit and tell yourself that YOU are the Conductor or the Orchestrator or the planner/designer/developer etc of your life then you have reached a point in your life where you will easily forgive those for being in your life.

    Isn’t it a beauty the way our lives are played out. Every trouble, every hurt thrown at us, every insult, every loss, hardships, anger, emotional rides, joys, debt, climbing debt, bankruptcy, loneliness, penny-less are all lessons created by ones higher self to really get over those lessons to better understand who we/you are and where we/you should be heading.

    I believe those who have not experienced these lessons haven’t a clue of who they are and where they are going with their lives. Having money is great. If you hoard it it creates stagnation and deterioration and is reflected in ones outer life. If you use it then you create whatever you desire and that is also reflected in ones outer life.

    As you have said above the solutions are at a different and deeper level to those problems. But problems are what takes you there.

    Bless you!

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