Dysfunctions, Addictions & the Financial Burning Bus – Part 4

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The Financial Burning BusIn parts 1, 2 and 3 I told you about all the screwed-up-ness of Kevin, and me. I relayed the story I told to Kevin. And my own trip down the inner-head-trash rabbit hole.

Before all this happened I had no idea why I did certain things. “Why do I _________?” Why do you _______? Fill in the blank:

-Chew my fingernails
-Cut myself
-Pull my hair out
-Compulsively earn money, then compulsively lose all of it by doing something really stupid
-Feel this surge of uncontrollable rage every time someone disagrees with me
-Start drinking shortly after noon every day
-Have this sex / porn addiction
-Destroy every promising relationship I ever get into
-Compulsively eat or binge or both (food… pleasure…. money….)
-Believe that I’m not worthy unless I _____ (and a whole ‘nother set of fill-in-the-blanks)

All this self destructive behavior hurts other people too. Plus they’ve got their own destructive behavior and it hurts you. Now if you can’t even figure out how to fix yourself, how are you ever gonna fix them?

(And to add insult to injury… what if you believe your own self destructive behavior is THEIR fault, and you can’t change unless they change first?)

Like I said in part 3, I tried a LOT of stuff.

It took many months, several years actually, before I really started to understand what was going on.

Here’s my take on what’s really going on.

*Something* happened to you. That something could have been really big and horrible and traumatic. Or…. it might be something that seems pretty minor now.

Whatever it was, you got wounded.

Now some of your software is broken and you’ve got this hole that you’re always trying to fill.

It’s like a little suction tube that’s always making this sucking sound, it’s always hungry, and it’s never satisfied.

Even when you shove big expensive objects in that tube, it’s still not satisfied.

Well guess what, shoving more stuff in the tube ain’t gonna fix ya.

Let’s talk about your wound.

The real wound isn’t what happened to you. Even if it was your alcoholic dad clubbing you with a stick, that’s not the real wound.

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The real wound is THE LIE YOU BELIEVED ABOUT YOURSELF AND ABOUT GOD AND ABOUT THE WORLD when dad clubbed you with a stick.

Emotional wounds, at their roots, are lies. But the lies I’m talking about are much deeper than lies like “The earth is flat” or “At long last, we’ve finally found the superman politician who’s gonna solve all our problems.”

Those lies are external. Inner wound lies are lies about your IDENTITY. For whatever reason those lies cut to the core of who and what you are.

One of the lies I believed (and still believe sometimes) was:

“As long as I’m working I’m not a bad guy.”

Well… surely there must be an even deeper twist to that lie, something like, “When you are not working you ARE a bad guy! So get off your ass and PROVE yourself.”

The most natural, “normal” thing to do is jump on that treadmill and perform.

Hey – my dad often complained that I was lazy. Maybe I’ll get to that story sometime. But back then, neither he nor I understood that I was “entrepreneur lazy” not “sloth lazy.” He didn’t know the difference.

But his criticism got pounded in deep.

That lie sure didn’t do good things for my marriage, that’s for sure.

When you believe that lie, it doesn’t matter how hard you work or how much you achieve, you’re still afraid you’re a bad guy. Which makes success a pretty unrewarding achievement.

Actually it SUCKS because you say to yourself, “Hey wait a minute, I thought success was going to make me happy.”

Nope. Because there’s nothing in your software that gives you permission to feel happy with your work. Now your successful business is a squirrel cage that never stops demanding that you perform.

And if that doesn’t make you happy, you have no idea what could or would. You feel totally stymied.

How do you re-write your software?

Let’s just say none of the tools I possessed when this all started to boil over were up to the task.

In the next part I’ll start talking about the different approaches. What worked and why.

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.

7 Comments on “Dysfunctions, Addictions & the Financial Burning Bus – Part 4”

  1. Unbelievable! I’ts october of 2019 already and the latest comments were from 2012! Yet I feel so close to you Perry! All of your message, your background, your obsessive personality, your interests that range from Fractals to Godel. You are like the older brother I always wanted for me!
    Anyway, the IDENTITY issue was paramount to me. Since I was 14 years old (Now 22) I been looking for a concrete answer to it. That made me study a lot of different traditions. Just like you, I was relentless.
    The closest thing that I get was… this moment. The present moment.
    One aftenoon I, somehow, managed to exist only not as my little conciousness. But as conciousness itself. For several minutes I felt like I was moving along with the entire universe. I was no longer only a part but the whole. And that is just close to describe it correctly. It was a remarkable experience.
    Since then, to me, Identity has become the thin balance line between existing in time and the present moment.
    In order to exist in time you need to have a past and a future. Thats why we develop a narrative cognitive structure. Thats how time is introduce in existence.
    In my experience, the “wounds” that you talk about are real. Exist in this narrative structure that we play in order to make sense of the world. Exist in our psyque.
    The moment I read how you define a wound: “THE LIE YOU BELIEVED ABOUT YOURSELF, ABOUT GOD AND ABOUT THE WORLD”. I feelt gosebumps… Thanks Perry. Thanks for helping me articulate what happen to me.

  2. Perry,

    I have been your subscriber for over a year read your mail almost immediately but rarely write back to you.

    They are always so thought provoking that I get away from my desk reflecting upon the insights you share.

    It never occurs to me to write back to thank you .

    Today’s talk with Bill Crawford was no different.

    My take away is this: Almost any one can differentiate, scale up and accelerate their professional offering by lacing it with their mastery in google analytics.
    I am not there yet but I wish to get there.

    If the customers can get a larger sales funnel at a lower cost of customer acquisition, it is hard to argue with the consultant.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Interesting stuff. This is the reason I continue to take your emails: you go way off topic, but in a good way. :) It resonates with my own path of recovery from a dysfunctional family and abusive parenting.

    One thought. I think a big part of what you’re talking about, both with yourself and Kevin, is a distinction between guilt and shame.

    When I do something wrong – when I commit sin, in religious terms – I feel pain, or guilt, over my behavior. This is entirely justified and appropriate. It’s a healthy, natural outcome of my actions. Guilt is good, or at least it can be if it gets me to change. In fact, consider that there are people who don’t feel guilt over their behavior: they’re known as psychopaths, and an entire body of psychology has grown out of the study of such individuals.

    In contrast with guilt, shame is feeling pain over who I am. Unlike guilt, shame can be enormously destructive. I can shame myself into believing I’m worthless, God hates me, I can’t do anything right, nobody really loves me, et cetera ad nauseum add your preferred flavor of self-hatred here.

    So I would suggest that what you’re talking about, and what is at the root of the sick, insanely self-destructive behavior you describe and in which Kevin has been engaging, has shame-filled self-hatred at its core.

    When the individual learns to undo the fundamental lie of shame, real healing can begin.

    1. Well…
      Don’t get me wrong–
      I’m not saying that understanding the definitions of words isn’t important…

      We are often guilty of over-parsing the meaning of key words and their related ideas so that their larger senses become narrowed within certain circles who straitjacket the general & conventional understandings…

      Should this sort of “guilt” be a cause for shame?…


      Is this a Universal Human Tendency that we should all be aware of and strive to recognize & course-correct if/when we detect it as a source of misunderstanding and needless divisions between ourselves & others ??

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