This post is excerpted from Lightning Path Workbook Two: Healing. To get started on your journey of healing and connection, visit the main page.
“You can’t heal what you don’t reveal.”
– Reverend Al Sharpton
In the previous section, we took an extended look at “addiction,” or what we call Toxic Attachment. As we saw there, toxic attachment to substances, behaviours, and even people develop because of toxic socialization, specifically the pain caused by violence, neglect, and chaos. The pain of toxic socialization causes us to look for “things” to salve, sooth, and treat the damage. We find these “things” that help (alcohol, sex, morphine, shopping, or whatever), and through the magic of dopamine we become “attached” to the point of toxicity, meaning we consume the substances (like tobacco, alcohol, cocaine, carbs, etc.), engage in the behaviours (running, sex, shopping, etc.), or develop toxic attachments to people (i.e., co-dependent abusive relationships) even though they cause damage to our body, our self, our family, our life, and even this world.
As we noted in the last unit, treating toxic attachment, though relatively straightforward, is a challenge. To treat a toxic attachment, you must detoxify your environment and then reprogram your dopamine addled brain. Reprogramming your brain is straight forward enough to do if you know your toxic attachments and how they started, but it can be impossible if you don’t know or don’t admit you are addicted, or don’t know how it all started in the first place.
At this point, you might be feeling this is all common sense, and it is. If you want to treat any wound, you have to clean the wound(s), work towards a non-toxic environment, and determine the nature and source of the wound. If you go to an emergency room, these are the first things they do; they put you in a clean room, make sure the wound is clean, and determine the nature of the wound. Once they know the details, it is easier for them to determine proper treatment and easier for them to heal the wound.
Unfortunately, when it comes to psychic wounds, and in particular when it comes to our toxic attachments, it is not so straightforward. The problem is not because understanding toxic attachments is difficult, nor is it the case that uncovering the source of toxic attachments is particularly challenging. Once you know the truth of toxic attachments, it usually only takes a few straight forward questions and a few honest answers to figure out the source of the trauma and the reason for the toxic attachment(s). So why is it so hard? The problem is, we often don’t give honest answers about our traumas, their sources, and the psychic wounds and toxic attachments that result. In fact, we tend to lie to ourselves and others about these things. We lie to ourselves and others about our environments. We lie to ourselves and others about the quality of our relationships. We lie to ourselves and others about the presence of toxic attachments. We lie to ourselves and others about the severity of our wounds. We lie to ourselves and others about the nature of our actions, telling ourselves that what we do is OK and alright, even if it is hurting ourselves and our own children. When it comes to assessing our damage, toxic attachments, and actions, we lie, lie, lie, and then lie some more.
In our healing practice, we have seen people lie to themselves and others numerous times. No matter how hard we tried to get some clients to hear the truths we speak, no matter how hard we tried to get clients to see the toxic realities of their lives and their behaviours, often they resist. They resisted hearing the truths. They resisted seeing the truths. They resisted even talking about the truth. Instead, they preferred to criticize others, deflect, blame, and avoid all awareness of their realities. After some consideration, we realized that they were doing this for several reasons, some simple and some complex, some innocent and some not so much.
It’s not so bad after all!
One of the more simple and innocent reasons people lie about their environments, the toxicity in their lives, their toxic attachments, their toxic behaviours, and so on, is that sometimes things don’t seem all that bad after all, and so they don’t think they have a problem. A toxic attachment to running is a good example of this. Running is a healthy activity, and it is easy to think you can never get too much of it. Because running is something we all see as healthy, it is easy to ignore any negativity that might result. Unfortunately, negativity can result. We knew of a few individuals who would go running all the time. One of these individuals would run for hours at a time, three to five times a week. This individual spent more time with her running group than she did with her spouse and children. She went on regular trips to compete and was on the road all the time during the running season. This person told herself and her family it was for her health and wellbeing, but her running had all the characteristics of a toxic attachment. When her spouse began to open up, we soon realized that she was running to escape from a toxic environment, in this case, her home, and a toxic relationship with her spouse. Like all people with a toxic attachment, she was using running to get away from a toxic environment and to feel good about herself and her life. By getting out of the home, running provided the necessary relief. Running also triggered serotonin release, which made her feel better. Eventually, through the magic of dopamine attachments, she developed a hard dependency on running. She soon justified the time, the money, and the neglect of her primary relationships to get the running fix. As “healthy” as this activity was in the beginning, it caused problems. By being out of the home all the time, she was avoiding her problems, undermining her primary relationships, and neglecting her children. As a result, her children have grown up with serious emotional issues, and her family life and relationship have totally collapsed. To be sure, she recognized there were problems in her life, but she wouldn’t see running, or the time it takes away from maintaining a family, as an issue. Running is healthy, after all, and it is her necessary, healthy, self-care, “me” time.
To be sure, self-care “me” time is important, as is exercise, but this doesn’t take away from the fact that she had a toxic attachment to running. When the “thing” we have a toxic attachment to doesn’t make us immediately sick, or when it contributes to our health in some other respects, we can easily ignore the negative consequences and easily find excuses to maintain the toxic attachment; but remember, in assessing your life for healing needs, individual health is not the only thing that is important. Your families, your children, your work, and your social environments play a role in your health and well-being as well. Just because an addiction isn’t affecting you directly doesn’t mean it is not negatively impacting your life or the lives of the ones you love and are responsible for.
The “it’s not so bad after all” lie allows us to have our toxic attachments while at the same time allowing us to avoid awareness of the impact and deflect criticism. Unfortunately, addictions are not the only things we can justify because it’s “not so bad after all.” That simple, easy to make lie works with a lot of different things, like spanking, which “is not so bad,” or yelling at our kids, which is “not so bad,” or sexually assaulting women, which is “not so bad,” and so on. The truth is, the “it’s not so bad” lie allows a lot of bad stuff to continue to happen. However, if we want to move forward, we must understand, it is bad. Addictions, assaulting our children, assaulting women, and all the other crap of our toxic socialization is bad. It undermines our physical, mental, emotion, and spiritual health and it makes it harder to connect. If we want to move forward and connect, we have to put aside the “it’s not so bad” lie and face the hard truth of our toxic lives, behaviours, and world.
Look at me, I’m rich and successful
Besides the “it’s not so bad” lie, another enormously powerful and extremely common way of justifying our lies, especially in the prosperous West, is to point to our successes, and especially wealth, as an indication that things are alright. This is the “Look at me. I’m rich and successful” lie. In this scenario, we refuse to admit the truth about our life and we refuse to admit a toxic environment or damage from a toxic socialization. Instead, we say “What do you mean I’m damaged from my childhood? What do you mean my IQ is affected? What do you mean I am hurt and diminished by toxic socialization? I have a job. I have a house. I have a car. I’m OK. I turned out alright. I’m rich and successful. I’m not like so and so…”, and so on and so forth.
When you are even moderately rich and successful, this is an immensely powerful lie. When you think about it, it would be hard to walk up to someone like Donald Trump, John Travolta, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, or some other “high functioning” alpha and tell them, “Man, you’re messed up and disconnected.” Instead of even considering that they might be messed up and disconnected, they can easily look at their private jets, fancy houses, gold toilets, and cadre of rich celebrity friends and laugh right in your face. And in fact, because our society puts more value on success and materialism, it is really hard for those who are successful to understand let alone see how their success really does impact others. So from Hollywood Diva to middle-class mom, from Corporate CEO to daddy in his “man cave,” when challenged to face a hard truth we do not want to admit, we often point to our fancy lives filled with money and material things and use that to justify, deflect, and excuse.
There is no sense in being hypocritical about it at this point. We all know what this lie is, and we’ve all committed it. We have all looked at our successes whatever they may be, and we have all used these successes as excuses to tell lies about our toxic environments, our toxic behaviours, the people we have exploited, and the suffering and the addictions that we endure. And when we are not satisfied with our privileges or successes, we internalize and accept that we are the problem, the damaged ones, and the ones who for whatever reason “just can’t get with the program.” Be aware, however, worldly success, riches, and fame have absolutely nothing to do with mental/emotional, physical health and healthy and pure spiritual connection. You cannot point to your “worldly successes” and say, “I’m a good person,” “I’m a healthy person,” “I’m a chosen person,” or “I am a connected person.” The truth is, you can be a sick and disconnected psychopath and still have worldly success. As Jon Ronson argues, psychopathy may even be a requirement of worldly success as currently defined. As many A-list Hollywood actors, top-flight CEOs, and filthy rich people the world over will surely attest, you got to step on a lot of toes while you’re clawing your way to the top. The uncomfortable truth for you is, only sick and disconnected people are prepared to “do what it takes” to claw their way to the top.
Moment of Reflection: Take a moment to read the following LP Article, Are bullies alpha males or sick puppies? After reading the article, do you think great success is a sign of health and connection? Or, is something else going on?
And besides, as even a two-bit therapist will tell you, money and success don’t buy happiness. Awards don’t make you feel warm. A big house doesn’t make you less lonely or more likely you’ll connect. Just because you are a rich CEO, or a government or religious leader, or the President of your local community club etc., doesn’t mean you are emotionally or psychologically healthy.
Don’t get us wrong, material success, adulation, and awards are all nice to have. Everybody should have a nice house in a safe neighbourhood with enough food to eat, because these are essential needs.  Everybody should find a skill and ability they can master, and they should gain recognition for it as a result. Meeting these needs, and the higher needs, is key and we all need to do that. But don’t kid yourself; “things” cannot meet all your needs. Material things can help with basic material needs like your need for food, safety, entertainment, comfort, and so on, but things just don’t cut it for higher needs like truth and understanding, alignment (i.e. self-actualization), and connection.
You can be the richest CEO in the world but if your attachments are busted, if you are out of alignment with your own Highest Self, if you suffer from profound disconnection, and if you exist in an environment of lies and self-deception, at best you’ll be miserable and at worst you’ll be on a descending spiral of mental, emotional, and spiritual disease. Trust us. Gina and I have worked with the rich and poor and both groups are equally messed up. There is some difference in how the pathologies are manifested, but both groups suffer from disease, disconnection, and pain. Remember this:
Money, wealth, and power is no indication of health, well being, and the potential to heal and connect.
It comes down to this, and you. If you use wealth and power as an indication that you are OK, you will never admit to having problems and you will never do the work you need to do to heal and connect.
I got a job
“It’s not so bad, after all” and “Look at me, I’m rich,” are two common ways we lie to ourselves and others, but there’s more. Even if we’re not altogether successful, and even if there is clear damage (i.e., even if we’re dealing with a diagnosed mental infection), if we got a job, and especially if that job is a good job, we can still find a way to excuse ourselves, our toxic environments, and our toxic actions. “Sure, I drink every day.” “Sure, I’m at the casino every night.” “Sure, I go running all the time.” “Sure, I’m an asshole to my spouse and my kids.” “But I’m no slacker.” “At least I can provide.” “I can’t be that bad or contributing to other people’s pain and suffering because at least I went to school and have my paper to say that I am smart.” “At least I got an education.”
You’ll recognize right away the “I’ve got a job” lie is related to the “I’m OK” and the “Look at me I’m rich” lies. In fact, all the lies we tell ourselves to avoid confronting the truth about the toxicity in our lives and the damage we have incurred are variations of the simple “I’m OK because…” argument. I’m OK because I can still function. I’m OK because I’m rich and successful. I’m OK because I have a beautiful partner. I’m OK because my kids are a great success, etc. If you think you are “OK because” of all the shiny gewgaws in your life, if you think you are “OK because” you can still function at a decent corporate level, if you think you are “OK because” you got a job, it’s not so bad, or whatever, you are wrong. Worldly success, money, power, successful children, or whatever is not a good indicator of emotional health and spiritual connection. The only good indicators of health and connection are actual health and connection. If you want to realize your full potential, you must quit using “I’m OK because” arguments and face the truth that you might need to work on healing and connection in some or all aspects of your life.
If you’re going to continue to use “I’m OK because” arguments to lie to yourself and others about the state of disconnection you are in, you can put this workbook down and quit wasting your time. For the rest, the question at this point is, why do we lie? It seems like it takes a lot of energy and money to maintain a lifetime of self-deception, and it does. Lying all the time is like trying to keep the lid down on a boiling pot. You can do it, but it takes a lot of energy to keep it from boiling over. It is the same thing with your physical body. It takes a ton of energy to maintain lies, and this energy adds to your body’s toxic burden, which for most people is already immense. If we could redirect all the energy we put into “keeping the lid down,” if we just woke up and admitted we got work to do, we could then redirect our energies from repression and self-deception to our authentic healing. It makes perfect sense, so, why can’t we do that? Why can’t we admit we got issues? Why do we continue to lie, to ourselves and others despite the obvious costs?
Well, we can tell you, we don’t do it because we are stupid, lazy, unevolved, immoral, evil, or whatever. Quite the opposite is true. There are good reasons we lie to ourselves, complex reasons, and these reasons are rooted in our evolutionary, biological, psychological, sociological experiences and are the sign of deep and capable intelligence, not a moral or evolutionary weakness. All the complexity comes down to this. Lying is not something we choose to do; lying is something that we learn to do.
Learning to Lie: Modelling
How do we learn to lie? First off, we learn to lie from the people that surround us. From day one, lying is modelled to us. From day one, people around us lie. Our parents lie, our teachers lie, our priests lie etc. and seeing that we go ahead and lie as well because that is what we see our parents do. That is what our “models” do, and so that is what we do.
Why do we do that? Why do we copy this behaviour? We do this because that is what our brains and bodies were designed to do. Your brain is filled with these things called “mirror neurons.” Mirror neurons are neurons in the brain which are activated when we observe the actions of others. For example, if I watch you raise your arm, mirror neurons in my brain fire in the same way neurons are firing in your brain. If you lie and I observe that you are lying, mirror neurons in my brain likely fire in the same way mirror neurons fire in your brain.
What do mirror neurons do? Scientists are still trying to pin the full picture down, but almost certainly, mirror neurons serve an evolutionary survival role by priming/enabling learning through observation. Learning through observation is a very important evolutionary and survival function of the physical unit. A species that learns by observing and modelling its parents is more successful than a species that can learn only through (often) dangerous experience. A primate that sees its parents running away from a hungry lion and instantly copies that behaviour is more successful than a primate who must figure it all out on their own.
It is simple. Biological organisms are designed to copy the behaviours of the adults that they are attached too and that form their community (i.e., parents, tribe members, church members, community etc.). Most of the time this is a sensible evolutionary/survival strategy. It is appropriate and right for a baby elephant to be attached to its parents and it is right to mirror (i.e. copy) their actions because the parents are attached to the baby elephant and are going to protect it and show it the way to survive. Most of the time, for most species which are dependent on parents for a period, it is a safe biological assumption that your parents are there to protect you. Thus, when, as children, we see adults lie, we are primed to copy that behaviour because of a biological assumption that when we see “trusted” others doing something, it must be a survival advisability. If we see our parents lie, our teachers lie, or whatever, we do it too because that’s what our programming encourages and it’s because our brains were designed to do that. There is no morality here. There is just biology. Our bodies are evolved to learn by modelling and that is exactly what they do.
Moment of Reflection: Pause for a moment and reflect back on your childhood and adolescence. What adults in your life modelled lying to you? What lies did they model? Why do you think they lied? You may have to revisit this reflection once you’ve read through the rest of this chapter.
Learning to Lie: Reinforcing Boundaries
Of course, the question now is, why do our parents and other “trusted” adults harm us when we grow up, wake up, and question the lies? Once again, this is not because of some moral weakness or genetic failing. It is not because we have “lessons to learn” or because we are “stupid” or “unevolved.” We, our parents, and later, most of us, reinforce lying because it is part of our biological programming. Just as our bodies are programmed to learn by modelling, our bodies are also programmed to reinforce established boundaries, whether they be physical (as in a physical perimeter around a campfire), behavioural (as determined through, for example, modelling), psychological (as part of the normalization process), or sociological (as in gender/sex, race/culture, social class boundaries).
It makes complete sense.
If you see a boundary being violated, like for example a child walking away from the tribe fire and into the woods at night, your instinct is to definitively suppress that boundary violation because doing so increases the survivability of your offspring while failing to do so dramatically increases the likelihood of their death. Like mirror neurons which prime you to learn by seeing, this biological programming makes perfect sense.
As noted, physical boundaries are not the only things that we, as parents, as physical beings living in a sometimes dangerous world, are primed to reinforce. We are also primed to reinforce emotional, psychological, and social boundaries as well. Once again, this is for survivability of our offspring. If a child walks away from you in a busy park, or if they go talk to total strangers, an adult parent will naturally move to reinforce an emotional and social boundary, often with a little “poke” or two to reinforce the message. If my five-year-old daughter goes up and talks openly to a member of another unknown tribe during trade negotiations by a community fire, my child could say something that might get her hurt, or damage negotiations, or whatever. In this context, it is important that my daughter maintain the boundaries of social decorum. Similarly, if my five-year-old daughter gets too friendly with some older, psychologically damaged male, that male may prey upon and assault her. Therefore, we established a social boundary early that told her and her brother to be wary of and even avoid unknown adults, because she is not old enough to determine safety.
You can see the issue.
Boundaries are good; boundaries are there to protect us, especially when we are young, defenceless, and naïve about the dangers in the world. Therefore, for evolutionary reasons, i.e., because it increases survivability, we are primed to reinforce established boundaries, and that is exactly what we do. When we see a boundary violated, as parents and as adults we move to reinforce the boundary.
And note, it is not just adults and parents who are primed to reinforce boundaries. If you have ever watched young children, you can see this dynamic with your own two eyes; children and adolescents enforce and reinforce boundaries too. You can see this operating quite clearly in children as young as two who, after quickly learning the gender boundaries established by parents (girls wear pink and are “gentle” and play with dolls, whereas boys wear blue and are to be “strong” and play with soldiers), who enthusiastically participate in their reinforcement. I, for example, remember many children throughout my childhood suppressing and condemning “gayness” in boys while at the same time ridiculing and shaming tomboys (girls who violated gender boundaries and acted like boys).
The reality is, children often brutally reinforce gender boundaries which they learned from their parents and siblings, and other immediate family members. Once again there is no morality here. It is not a question of evil and sinful two-year-old children. It is a question of biological programming. Children, parents, teachers, and even total strangers reinforce gender boundaries, and many other types of boundaries, because, for survival reasons, they are biologically primed to do so. They don’t think about; they just do it.
So, what do boundaries have to do with lying? Like gender roles, lying is an established behaviour learned through modelling and experience. We see adults model gender roles and we follow those. We see adults lie and we learn to do it. When we step outside the boundaries of established behaviour, i.e., when we don’t follow the gender scripts that were implanted, when we don’t lie when we are supposed to, boundaries are aggressively enforced. If a child goes up to a bitter obese older women, you don’t want the child saying “you are a bitter mean, fat lady,” because the lady might hurt the child, so you would want the child to either a) honour an established boundary and stay away or b) tell a small lie to avoid increasing the risk of harm. “Gee lady, you have a nice hat” instead of “You are a terrible, mean, old lady.” If the child doesn’t honour the boundary or tell a white lie, you might message and “poke” the child to reinforce the established behaviours. In this way, we learn to lie.
Our life long lying lessons do not stop with modelling and maintaining boundaries. Modelling only works to a certain point. At a certain point, children and adolescents develop the ability to see beyond the rote modelling and develop the ability to question their modelling and change their programmed behaviours. Once a child’s central nervous system is developed enough to begin to realize the nature of lying and that the adults around them are lying, they will begin to question that. If, upon consideration, they realize that the lying is, in fact, toxic (i.e. “not good”), they will openly challenge and try to change things. Unfortunately, when a child or adolescent inevitably and invariably questions and tries to change things, they are often silenced by adults who, for reasons we’ll go into shortly, simply cannot admit that they are lying. The silencing is invariably violent—shaming, yelling, hitting, etc. I’m sure most of us have stories. I remember challenging my mother and being told, in the midst of the beating, that I should simply respect, not question, my elders, and do what I was told. A similar thing happened to Gina. One day, as a young adolescent, Gina recalls reading a newspaper article on emotional abuse and emotional violence in the home. She cut this article out, posted it on the fridge, and said to her parents, “Hey, this is what we do.” Their response, like the response of many adults to challenges from their observant and intelligent children, was violent. They emotionally and physically beat her down.
We should note, our stories are not particularly shocking. This is the normal reality of everyday lives for many of us as we grow into this toxic society we’ve inherited. If we all think and are being honest, most of us can remember an experience where we told the truth to a parent, teacher, or other trusted adult, but were violently put down as a result.
Moment of Reflection: Pause for a moment and reflect back on your childhood and adolescence. Do you remember any moments in which you were “violently put down” for telling the truth? Don’t simply look for physical violence. Even single instances of emotional or psychological violence can cause years of fear, anxiety, and dis-ease.
Understand, the point here is not to point fingers at parents, teachers, priests, and others who model lying and reinforce it with violence and abuse. The point is to say that at the moment where we start to question the lies and lying that has been modelled to us, we are beaten down. We are assaulted and shamed into silence. Thus, we learn it is safer and less painful to lie. Thus is our lying reinforced.
Learning to Lie: Avoiding Guilt and Shame
This biological provision to protect and reinforce established behaviours, while it makes biological and evolutionary sense, and while it does explain a certain amount of boundary reinforcement, does not explain the hyper-violence we sometimes experience when we challenge the lies/hypocrisy around us. While an elephant parent might poke a child to ensure it doesn’t eat a poisonous planet, you would never see an elephant beating its child with a stick. Nevertheless, you see human parents and, in some places, teachers, priests, and others doing this all the time. Sometimes they do it with actual sticks and stones and sometimes (in the so-called “civilized” places) they do it just as brutally, but with words, dirty looks, “tones” in the voice, and such.
Reinforcing established boundaries is natural behaviour; reinforcing those boundaries violently is not. Why do human adults engage in such arguably unnatural behaviour? To be frank, they do it to protect themselves from the guilt and shame they feel at all the Disjunctive Actions they have engaged in over the years. And to be perfectly honest, that can be quite a lot. My mother hurt me a lot growing up and to protect herself from the ugly and painful feelings of guilt and shame that have accumulated over the years, she reacts with violent denials when challenged with the truth of her actions. Gina’s parents are the same. They do not want to hear how toxic their family was and so they violently suppress anybody who challenges their self-deception and calls out the toxicity in the family.
It is the same for priests who lie to their congregations and sexually assault children, teachers who harm their kids, husbands who “provide” but are violent and controlling, or even whole societies. People have been acting out of alignment so long, they have accumulated so many bad behaviours and feel such deep guilt and shame that they repress their own awareness, react defensively, and beat down others just to prevent awareness of their disjunctive actions, their “sins” if you like, from bubbling up and causing shame and guilt. We react violently when somebody challenges the boundaries of our individual and collective self-deception not because we are evil or broken in some way, but because we don’t want to feel the painful guilt and shame of our disjunctive and disconnected actions that have harmed others. Everybody knows guilt and shame are painful. Guilt and shame are probably the most painful emotions we have. Because our physical units naturally avoid pain, and because the pain can be so intense, we will do anything in our power to avoid guilt and shame, even if that means suppressing and oppressing those who bring it forward to us.
Learning to Lie: The Individualization of Truth
So far we have learned that we lie because lying was modelled to us, because lying is reinforced for natural reasons (because we reinforce boundaries), and because we don’t want to feel guilt and shame for our past actions. A question that arises at this point is, why don’t we snap out of it? You would think that given all the pain and suffering on this planet, you would think that given the guilt and shame of disjuncture, we’d correct our behaviour, grow up, and move on. You would think—but we don’t—so the question is, why?
The answer to that question moves us beyond individual and biological explanations for why we lie into social, political, economic, and ideological explanations. Part of the social/ideological answer to why we don’t change our lying behaviours is that in our modern toxic societies we are taught to individualize truth. We have a tough time acknowledging our participation in the toxic lying and repression that goes on all around us because we have learned that truth and truth-seeking is an individual process. Truth is relative. The truth is “our truth.” Everybody has their own truth and that is the truth for them. In modern consumerist societies, we are encouraged to choose what we believe is true like we pick products at a grocery store. We have been taught to believe that our happiness is an independent process (meaning we are the only ones who can truly make ourselves happy) and if others are not okay with “our truth,” then it is their problem, not ours. In this way “our truth” becomes an entitlement. We have the “right” to our truth and if others don’t like it, tough.
When truth is individualized like this, we are empowered to select “truths” that make us feel good about ourselves and that uncritically reinforce our current actions. Likewise, we resist truths that don’t fit our psychological framework, or that make us feel bad about the way we behave. For example, I was dealing with a mother of three children once who was struggling with the misbehaviour of her children. The problem was, she treated her children unfairly and violently. She would give something to one child but exclude another, thereby generating jealously and hurt feelings. When she punished them, it was excessive and violent. I told her straight, if she wanted to reduce and eliminate behavioural issues in her children, she would have to treat each of her children the same, and she would have to cease her violence towards them. She didn’t listen. She rejected “my truths” and clung to “her truths” which told her that violence towards children built up their strength, and that kids shouldn’t whine and complain but just accept whatever it was they were given. She was empowered to do this because in our societies, truth is individualized. She has her “truths” and I have mine and consequently she can easily reject mine. Of course, the truth is, she was damaging her children. The reality is, they will grow up diminished and with emotional issues. But you could not tell her that because that’s not within her framework of truth. She’s got her truths and she’ll stick by those truths no matter what the evidence and no matter what the cost to her children and her family.
You can always tell when someone is resisting truth because they have individualized “their truth” by their reaction to challenge. The more you challenge a person who has become entitled in their truths, the more likely they are to use punitive tactics against you. If you keep pressing them, if you keep trying to show them a consequence of their truth or another way of looking at their reality, i.e. their truth hurts their children, they won’t see because they have “their truths.” Instead of taking the time to consider that “their truths” might be contributing to their own disconnected experiences, or that they might be harming others, they instead get mad and attack. People with individualized truths will assault and not stop until a) you back down, b) you buy into their version of truth, or c) you at least stop trying to challenge them.
We shouldn’t have to say this, but individualizing truth is bad for several reasons. For one, individualizing truth disconnects us from reality. It ungrounds us by attaching us to fantasies about the way the world works and the consequences of our actions. The bigger problem with this is, these ungrounded and disconnected fantasies can be damaging to ourselves and others. Think back to the mother who treats her children differently and uses violence to “correct” what she thinks is wrong behaviour. She can tell herself all she wants that the violence “builds strength” and that she needs to correct her children for “acting wrong,” but the reality is, she is damaging herself and her children by her beliefs and actions. Consequently, her children will grow up with emotional and behavioural issues.
In addition to a disconnection from reality, a second reason why individualizing truth is bad is that it allows us to avoid guilt, shame, and the spiritual necessity of taking responsibility and accountability to change our actions. To avoid guilt, shame, and responsibility for our actions, all we have to do is select a “truth” that gives us an out. A good example here is when psychologists and psychiatrists help us “blame the victim” by providing biological explanations of psychological disease even though there are clear environmental, social, and economic antecedents. In the case of the mother with the kids, the psychological system contributes to the mother’s lying by giving this mother another truth to believe. The educational psychologist and pediatric psychiatrist say her children have ADHD and ODD, and are “genetically prone.” The establishment, unintentionally perhaps, blames the children. Because the mother now has a choice of truths, i.e., her kids have behavioural and emotional issues because they are damaged or broken in some way and not because her parenting practices are bad, she can avoid examining her own behaviours and avoid feeling the guilt and shame that would arise if she took responsibility and took an honest look. Instead of looking at her contribution to her children’s dysfunction, she sees her children as faulty. She came to me not for help with her family dynamic, but to help me blame her children.
Speaking of the psychiatric and psychological professions, and their tendency to blame the victim, the professions also participate in the individualization of truth. It is easier for them that way. In order to avoid the harsh realities of our toxic socialization process, i.e. in order to avoid facing down the lack of funding for quality preschool education, the lack of funding for quality social supports, the generally poor state of parenting and socialization in our society, and the intense amount of professional and collective effort that would be required to really help a family such as this one, they choose their “truths” as well. They choose genetic explanations for psychological disease rather than sociological ones because that allows them to administer the only thing they have time for, quick fix pills and treatments. And note, it is not just about lack of time and funding. They choose biological/neurological explanations rather than environmental/sociological explanations because choosing explanations that blame the child is safer. Biological/neurological explanations help them avoid the risk of offending the mother and losing her as a client. It is a real issue for people whose livelihoods depend on clients coming back. Because my livelihood was not dependent on whether this woman needed to come back, and because I work independently, I challenged this mother. I told her straight out that if she wanted to eliminate behavioural issues she needed to smarten up and quit hurting her kids. Instead, she should show them love and respect, protect them, and treat them fairly. I said they need to be nurtured and encouraged to exploration, play, and creativity. Upon hearing all this, the mom paid her bill and never came back. She didn’t want to hear the truth, and she didn’t have to. She went to traditional medicine, got her face-saving bio-medical diagnosis, and blamed her children for her parental failings.
Understand, we are not “parent bashing” here. We do not blame the mother for individualizing her truths and finding a way to avoid responsibility and shame. It is not her fault she individualizes her truth. It is not even her fault she parents in the way she does. She is the product of the racist, classist, and sexist society she was born into. She parents the way she was parented. She individualizes her truths the way others, even professionals, individualize theirs. They do it, we all do it, because of priming, modelling, avoidance, fear, and training. It would be different if, after I told her to smarten up, she went to a psychiatrist who, instead of drugging her kids, gave her the same message as I, but she didn’t. She found a professional who gave her an easy out and so she took it. It is not her fault; it is just the way we work in society as it is currently wired. If we want to change how parents and others individualize truth, we have to change how society is wired.
Learning to Lie: System Maintenance
Speaking of society’s wires, if individualizing truth is so bad, if it allows us to maintain ungrounded self-delusions, avoid shame and guilt, avoid responsibility, blame others, and avoid challenging change, why don’t we wake up and stop individualizing truth? Humans aren’t stupid, as a species. Shouldn’t someone tell us this? Shouldn’t parents tell us this? Shouldn’t teachers say something? Shouldn’t philosophers note the truth? Surely you would think that we’d eventually wake up and see through it all.
Surely, we would. In fact, at some point, we do see through it all. From time to time we, either individually or collectively, challenge the lies, remember our adolescent skepticism, or get the message that truth is important and that we shouldn’t lie about ourselves to ourselves, our society, and this planet. There are times when we realize it is bad, realize there is damage, realize we are lying to ourselves, and move to make truth and responsibility a central part of our lives. Left to ourselves, we would have realized all this a long time ago and done something about it. But the problem is, we are part of a system that relies on our collective self-deception and delusion to function and maintain.
What is this system? To be blunt, this system is a system of accumulation, we call it a Regime of Accumulation, whereby a few people take money and wealth from the majority who are often consigned to a life of grinding, oppressive poverty as a consequence. This statement hardly requires justification. From Egyptian slave societies through feudal monarchies to modern socialist and capitalist societies, society has been one where a few people accumulate wealth and power on the backs of the majority. This system of accumulation has been in operation for thousands of years, most spectacularly in Egypt where exploitation and slave labour enabled the elites to create ridiculously grandiose monuments to themselves, their wealth, and their power, but other cultures in other epochs can be included as well. The Taj Mahal was created over twenty-two years via the brutal exploitation of twenty-two thousand slaves and the imposition of oppressive taxes on impoverished villagers and shopkeepers. As lest you think we are any different in our modern world, over the past forty years or so we have seen a ridiculous level of global wealth concentration that must certainly be approaching Egyptian levels. It is at the point now where if things continue, the richest 1% of the population will hold two-thirds of the world’s wealth by 2030. We are now at the point where billions suffer in poverty while eight people own half the world’s wealth. Accumulation and concentration of wealth are what the Regime of Accumulation, The System, was setup up to do.
We are not going to talk too much about The System in this unit. I talk about it in detail in Rocket Scientists’ Guide to Money and the Economy, which you should read now if you haven’t already done so. We also talk about it more in the next unit on ideology, and in Lightning Path Workbook Four on Archetypes. The point we want to make here is that The System depends on dysfunctional and diminished human beings to function properly. The System doesn’t require healthy, fully connected, human beings. Instead, The System requires diminished individuals (i.e., unhealthy and disconnected individuals) willing to accept a diminished life and consume their life away. Put another way, the System actively creates damaged, disconnected, and dysfunctional human beings which it can then plug into its accumulation matrix.
I know this is going to be a hard pill to swallow for some people, especially those living in Western democracies who like to think they are better off than most, but regardless of where you live and what you think, we all live in the same System. The System “over there” (wherever over there happens to be for you) exploits humans, facilitates accumulation, and causes suffering just like The System is doing over here (wherever here happens to be); it just does it differently.
Don’t believe us? Consider biological attachment. As we learned in the unit on addiction, people develop attachments to things for neurological/biological reasons. Just like we are evolutionarily primed to attach to sweet things (carbs give us the energy we need to move, so our body has evolved to like sweets), we are primed to attach to people (because people help us meet our needs) and behaviours (we attach to pleasant experiences, for obvious reasons). When something, someone, or some behaviour meets a need or makes us feel good, our brain triggers a little dopamine hit. This hit increases our attachment to the thing, person, or behaviour. We see these attachment mechanisms as a feature of the physical unit because they increase our survivability and our enjoyment in life.
There can be little doubt that humans do have a neurologically primed propensity to develop attachments. The thing is, this feature of the physical unit is exploited to facilitate accumulation. People who have a toxic attachment to gambling make casino owners rich. People who have a toxic attachment to smoking make tobacco companies rich. Less negatively, people who have a toxic attachment to any goods (shoes, for example), or all kinds of goods (shopping), help keep our economies growing. Toxic attachment to shopping keeps accumulation growing by keeping people consuming.
Shopping is a good example. Many of us have a toxic attachment to shopping. “Compulsive shopping” or Impulsive-compulsive buying disorder (ICBD) as it is referred to in the literature, has, since at least 1915, been recognized as a problem. Ronald and Thomas describe it as “chronic, repetitive purchasing that becomes a primary response to negative events or feelings.” This fits exactly the profile of toxic attachment as described in this workbook. People with IDBD go shopping to escape, to self-medicate, and to feel better, just like people who are addicted to heroin. These days, many people, about one in six by some estimates, have a toxic attachment to this activity.
It is not hard to tell when somebody has a toxic attachment to shopping. These are the ones with a constant stream of “things” flowing through their front door.
Just like all other toxic attachments, a toxic attachment to shopping can be quite damaging. It can be damaging to the individual, to the family, to society, and the world. It can “interfere with social or occupational functioning.” Like any toxic attachment, it facilitates avoidance. It takes quality time away from family and children. It can be so bad that you fill your house full of hoarded junk, or if you can afford it, rent containers or buy more houses to store all your stuff. It can cause financial stress as you try to keep up with bills and credit cards. It can cause you to work extra to avoid the debtor’s ruin of a household. It can even hurt women and children who are enslaved to make cheap products for the addicts. Finally, it can, through the weight of its ecological inanity, destroy the earth with the ecological burden of toxic garbage overload. Whenever we drive to the west end of Edmonton where we live, we see a huge garbage pile. We have been watching this garbage pile grow for twenty years and it has at least quadrupled in size in that time. It is a huge monster blot on the landscape. And of course, we’ve all seen the pictures of whales filled with plastic. Garbage and a toxic environment are the consequences of our toxic attachment to shopping. And the more of us who become addicted to shopping, the more waste we generate.
Unfortunately, despite all the individual and global problems toxic attachment to shopping brings, few people see it as a major problem. Why? We can use the analysis we introduced earlier to answer this question.
Number one, we don’t see shopping as a problem or as an addiction because shopping is modelled to us, because it is “not so bad after all,” because “I can still do my job and live my life,” and because it is a “socially sanctioned” activity. As with a toxic attachment to running, it is hard to see shopping for the problem it is.
Number two, we don’t see shopping as a problem or an addiction because people working in the advertising industry work against this realization. An advertiser’s only job is to encourage accumulation and help maintain The System. When you watch a commercial on television or the Internet, it has been created to get you to buy something, to encourage addiction. Advertisers never show the growing garbage piles or the consequences of debt or the destruction caused by IBDB. They actively manipulate you, showing you the “positive” side of shopping (i.e., satisfaction of some need). They work actively to get you hooked, and no one is immune.
How do they do that? Marketing sanctions shopping. Marketing makes it desirable. Marketers work against your doubts. Marketers give you excuses. Common North American commercials for beauty products say “you deserve it.” More to the point, marketers attach products to your needs, especially your emotional and psychological needs. Marketers tell you that shopping will soothe your pains and make you happy. Marketers learned early that the best way to get you to buy things is to exploit the consequences of toxic socialization by offering products as if these products can help you sooth, escape, and even meet unmet needs. They offer you running shoes as a way to be cool, to look good, to be “great,” to gain adulation, to “break free,” and find escape. They offer you high fat/high sugar food designed to provide you with the “bliss” you are missing in your life. They look at your unmet needs, they look at your toxic lives, they look at the chaos and neglect in your life, and they offer you products and services that they, or the “social media influencers” they hire, say will help you deal with your life.
The role of the marketing industry in sanctioning and encouraging toxic attachments by exploiting the unmet needs, distress, and depression of toxic socialization is obvious. Take the fast food industry with their “fun meals” which are marketed to both kids and parents. For kids, the message is that the meal satisfies the child’s need for fun playtime. You get to hang out with your parents, you get to eat a fun meal, and you get to play at the same time. For parents, the message is that feeding your kids fun meals is good for them, that it makes them happy and well adjusted, that it saves you time because you do not have to prepare a meal, that you can instead eat and play with your kids, and that it is good financial value. Win, win, win all around.
Of course, it is not just kids who are targeted. Jewellers associate their products with love, sex, relationships, and even the attention that you so crave. The targeting even occurs amongst so-called spiritual types who market their spirituality based on its ability to soothe, calm, heal, and meet your various unmet needs.
It is remarkable when you think about it. Marketers draw a straight line between our anxieties, desires, pains, problems, and unmet needs to product purchase. They convince us at a subconscious level that attachment to products gives us psychological, emotional, and even spiritual benefit. They do this deliberately and with complete awareness of what they are doing not because it serves your best interests, not because it makes you healthy, not because it creates connection, and certainly not because it is good for the planet. They do it because somebody has hired them to manipulate demand. They do it to keep you shopping, They do it to help some corporation accumulate. They do it because they serve The System. Furthermore, they do it without regard for the fact that the attachments they construct are lame (meaning they don’t meet the needs they purport to meet) or that they might be helping to create toxic attachments in the process.
On the reality of lame attachments, you can’t meet an essential need for family time by eating a grotesque fun meal, nor can you meet an unmet need for self-esteem by putting shiny metal and a big sparkly rock on your finger.
On the reality of marketers facilitating toxic attachment, no advertiser would ever point out to you the real truth, that it is the diamond, not you, that is getting all the attention. No advertisers will point to the health costs of all the processed and fast food we eat. They will make you think that buying the diamond ring will prove your love for your partner and that people are really interested in you. They will make you want a fun meal by showing you how it meets some of your essential or toxic needs.
Moment of reflection: Pick a product, likes shoes, cigarettes, alcohol and do a google image search. Search “shoes, advertising, 1970s” for example. Spend a few minutes looking at the advertisements and ask yourself, what needs are they pretending to meet with their products, or what negative outcomes of toxic socialization are they telling you can be soothed by a purchase? Jot your thoughts down and share in the marketing thread on the healing forums.
LP’s Understanding of Lies
At this point you may be wondering why we are discussing marketing and consumerism in the context of healing; it is necessary if you are going to understand the truth. Recall, we started this section by talking about The System and how it diminishes and suppresses human potential to maintain and preserve itself. Marketing is a perfect example of that because marketers lead you, consciously or not, to sacrifice your Self at the altar of accumulation. If they told you the truth, that you need to put diamonds on your fingers because you’ve got some self-esteem issues, or that fast food will make you sick and kill you in the long term, they wouldn’t be doing their jobs. They serve The System and that service requires you to sacrifice healing and connection in the service of globalized accumulation.
At this point, we want to take a step back here. The point of this unit is not to condemn marketers or make anybody feel bad for serving The System. Whether we like it or not, we are all participating at one level or another. We participate not because we are evil or stupid but because we were born into it, have been raised with ideas and ideologies that support it, believe we are doing the right thing, and are thus caught up in it, like a fish is caught up in its water tank. There is no point in wasting energy on blame because we’re all guilty of this sin. Getting back to the theme of this unit, the point is to point out our propensity for lying, the reasons we lie (i.e. biological, psychological, and economic), and finally to encourage you to stop. The truth is, you are going to have to stop. If you are looking to be healed and connected, if you are looking to save the planet, and especially if you are in a healing profession, you need to stop lying and you need to learn to see and accept the truth. If you want to move forward, it is as simple as that.
If you were traumatized by toxic parents as a child, you are going to have to face that truth so you can mend and heal.
If you are a toxic parent, you are going to have to face that truth so you can heal yourself and stop hurting your kids.
If you have a toxic attachment to drugs, alcohol, shopping, running, gambling or whatever, you’re going to have to face that truth so you can stop wasting energy on lame attachments so you do what you need to do to reprogram and heal.
If you’re a callous bully hurting from an extremely toxic childhood, you’re going to have to face that so you can process your pain and anguish and atone for the damage you’ve done.
If you want to move forward, whether in healing, connection, or both, you are going to have to face whatever it is you are hiding from yourself. If you don’t, it will be like trying to heal a broken leg while pretending nothing is wrong. You might be able to mask your injury for a while, but at what cost? Refusing to acknowledge that your leg is broken, refusing to get treatment, will create other complications, like infection, which can and will eventually kill you. You have to face the truth. You have to treat your injuries. You have to change moving forward.
Of course, we understand how difficult this can be. The repressed pain and anguish, the whitewashed guilt and shame, and the profound self-delusions can feel, as they begin to break through the thin surface of repression, like psychological earthquakes and emotional tsunamis. We promise you that moving forward will become easier the more you commit to the work. But we also caution you that doing the work will be painful for some, and very painful for others. Don’t give up. Unfortunately, you are not going to be able to remain in your “comfort zone.” Moving forward, you need to process pain, anguish, guilt and shame not so you can feel bad and be punished, but so you can clear your blockages, reclaim energy and freedom, and move forward towards health, empowerment, and connection. To do all that you are going to have to face your truths, which as you now know can be a difficult challenge.
If at any point in the process you are feeling overwhelmed, slow down, take some deep breathes, remember the HEALING Framework. A step at a time, even if they are baby steps, is alright. Process and clear as slowly as you need to and remember, “H” is for help. If you need help dealing with toxic environments, intractable addictions, or the processing and handling truths, for example, if you need help processing childhood sexual assault, get help. Get as much professional help as required. Just don’t stop facing the truth. If you stop facing the truth, you stop moving forward. And don’t worry. It might be hard in the beginning but the more you push through and do your work, the easier and less painful it will be.
- Was lying modelled to you? If so, who was your primary model or models? If you like, share with your group or online at the LP forums in the HC Journal section.
- Thinking about your self now, are there any lies you tell yourself to convince yourself (and others) that you are OK even when you are unhealthy, living in toxic environments, and disconnected? What are they? What/who do you think the source of these lies are for you? If you like, share with your group or online at the LP forums in the HC Journal section.
- Do you individualize your truth? Are there times when you believe something about yourself, your actions, or your life because it is your right to believe what you want? Do your individualized truths harm you or others around you? Are these truths really true, or are they lies in disguise? Are they harming you or others in some way? Write down your thoughts in your HC Journal and examine them. Share on the LP forums if you like.
 Well at least those of us who are impacted by the dysfunction, competition, mixed messages, etc. that come from engaging in this lie.
 For the argument of Ronson, see Jon Ronson, The Psychopath Test: A Journey through the Madness Industry (United States: Picador, 2011).
 Mike Sosteric and Gina Ratkovic, Seven Essential Needs, 2018, Available: https://www.lightningpath.org/healing/seven-essential-needs/.
 Incidentally, the “I’m rich” excuse is probably what Jesus Christ was referring to when he said it’s easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven, by which he was politely saying, it is impossible. According to Jesus, you cannot get a camel through the eye of a needle and a rich person can never be perfectly aligned and fully connected because a perfectly aligned and fully connected individual would never do what you have to do (i.e., exploit others, neglect family, damage yourself) to get rich. Personally, we don’t agree with this. We think there is hope, even for the uber rich; but when you’re dealing with a rich and successful person who can use the “Look at me” argument, it is hard to get the message through.
 As you get to this point of the workbook you might be feeling a little queasy, even sick to your stomach. At this point you may start to realize the depth of your self-deception, and this can make you feel a little sick. We are going to ask you to just ignore that feeling. If you keep moving forward, if you start to face your truths and if you begin to take steps to do something about it, any ugly feelings you may have will shortly go away. Instead of dwelling on negative feelings, we’re simply going to ask the question “why do we lie?”
 Of course, most of them aren’t doing it because they are mean. Most of them are doing it because that’s what they’ve learned to do.
 We say likely here because we’ve seen no evidence or study that suggests we have “lie mirrors” in our brain. However, given the reality of mirror neurons and the evolutionary sensibility of modelling behaviours, it seems quite likely that this is true.
 Jeon Hyeonjin and Lee Seung-Hwan, “From Neurons to Social Beings: Short Review of the Mirror Neuron System Research and Its Socio-Psychological and Psychiatric Implications,” Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience.1 (2018).
 European Science Foundation, How Mirror Neurons Allow Us to Learn and Socialize by Going through the Motions in the Head, 2008, Science Daily, Available: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081219073047.htm, V.S. Ramachandran, Mirror Neurons and Imitation Learning as the Driving Force Behind “the Great Leap Forward” in Human Evolution, 2000, Edge, Available: http://edge.org/3rd_culture/ramachandran/ramachandran_index.html.
 This, we believe, is a common behavior. Years ago, when we visited an elephant park in South Africa, the trainers told us how, if a child elephant was approaching a certain type of bush that was poisonous, an adult would communicate with and poke the “child” elephant to alert it to the danger. If the baby elephant continued to approach the bush, it would get another poke, not a beating, not even a slap, just a poke, until it finally got the message.
 Thinking about this and being honest about it may be difficult. As we’ll learn in the next chapter, we are embedded in an ideology that encourages us to see violence only in its extreme forms (i.e. physical violence). Because of this, we often don’t see (or don’t remember) less extreme acts of violence, like shaming, shunning, yelling, unrelenting criticism, etc., as violence; or, if we do see these acts as violent, we say “It’s not so bad.” But, as we’ve said, it is bad. We recall watching a documentary on learning disabilities where an immigrant child who on his first day of school in grade one was asked to spell his name on the chalkboard. When the child made a mistake or two, the teacher responded by publicly shaming the child. That single experience led to years of learning and psychological difficulties for this person. It was only as a middle age adult, and only after years of struggle and healing, that this person was able to pin down where his self-hatred and self-esteem issues were rooted. The teacher’s public shaming of this child was so violent, and it caused intellectual, psychological and relational trauma so severe, that it took decades for this man to heal.
 Disjunctive actions are actions that are out of alignment with our own Highest Self. As explained in the book The Great Awakening: Concepts and Techniques for Successful Spiritual Practice, wrong actions cause our Highest Self to use Steering Emotions to try and realign its bodily vehicle. Guilt and shame are steering emotions. When we do something out of alignment, when we engage in a disjunctive act, we feel guilt and shame. Guilt and shame is a message from your Highest Self, a “message from heaven” if you like, that tells you to smarten up and act in a more aligned fashion. https://spiritwiki.lightningpath.org/index.php/Disjunctive_Action
 It should be noted that both Gina and I are considered to have come from loving and caring homes. That is, others were worse off than us. However, the truth is, both our families were products of their own histories and experiences that were filled with much worse violence and oppression experiences than ours. Just because our experiences “weren’t as bad” as theirs doesn’t mean they weren’t bad, or damaging. Just because we were not products of “the ward” or had any other formal governing body overseeing our negative, toxic experiences, doesn’t mean we were safe and nurtured.
 Sin is a loaded term, but it’s also a common term, and a useful term if you understand a) that sin is a disjunctive act that harms another being and b) that the “sin” isn’t against God, it is against your own Highest Self. When you sin, you are engaged in an act that is so repulsive and disjunctive to your Highest Self, and consequently so disconnecting, that it deserves its own special word. https://spiritwiki.lightningpath.org/Sin.
 Important note, if you want to get somebody past their blockages to a place where they can a) become aware of, b) acknowledge, and c) atone for disjunctive behaviours, don’t invoke shame and guilt. If you do that you’ll trigger, their defenses and possibly expose yourself to violence. Instead, gently and nonjudgmentally lead them to a realization of their disjunctive behavior, and encourage them to change by showing them a better way.
 We believe conditions such as ADHD and ODD are caused by toxic socialization practices that lead to toxic relationships and environments. It is in our experiences of toxic relationships and environments that cause the body to react/become defensive. Those who come from families with years and years of intergenerational modelling of family dysfunction and violence, are more prone to develop maladaptive functioning disorders i.e. children raised in violent, disconnected, conflictive and contradicting households are susceptible of acquiring maladaptive adjustment disorders such as ADHD and ODD.
 Herein lies the answer to the riddle of what the Sphinx was all about.
 Rita Banerji, “The Awfully Unromantic Taj Mahal,” Huffpost 2015.
 For an overview, see Inequality.org, Wealth Inequality, 2019, Inequality.org, Jan 8 2019, Inequality.org, Global Inequality, 2019, Inequality.org, Jan 8 2019, Michael Savage, “Richest 1% on Target to Own Two-Thirds of All Wealth by 2030,” The Guardian 2018.
 Matt Rocheleau, “8 Rich People Own as Much Wealth as Half the World,” Boston Globe 2017.
 Bernardo Dell’Osso, Andrea Allen, A. Carlo Altamura, Massimiliano Buoli and Eric Hollander, “Impulsive-Compulsive Buying Disorder: Clinical Overview,” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 42.4 (2008).
 J. Faber Ronald and C. O’Guinn Thomas, “A Clinical Screener for Compulsive Buying,” Journal of Consumer Research.3 (1992).
 And for the record, even if you aren’t a compulsive shopper, there are still issues with shopping. We’re all consumers and we all harm the environment with that consumption. If we are going to save the planet, we all have a lot of work to do to make our conception as “non-violent” and non-destructive of the planet as possible. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you shop at whole foods you are immune.
 Dell’Osso, Allen, Altamura, Buoli and Hollander, “Impulsive-Compulsive Buying Disorder: Clinical Overview,” 260.
 Note, past a certain point, we all become consumption “influencers” in one way or another. We influence our children, we influence our friends, we influence our co-workers, etc.
 One advertisement from 1969 shows a happy boy with the tag line “Jimmy’s mother knows McDonald’s hamburgers are 100% beef.
 One advertisement from 1972 shows an African American family purchasing a complete meal for their child for “less than $4.00” a person.
 The fact that you find marketing involved in human spirituality is a problem because a lot of people get involved in spirituality not to help others but because they see it as a way to accumulate money, as a way to get self-esteem and attention needs met through fortune and fame, or for some other pathological reason. This is a problem. Buying a phone made by a pathological company that exploits child labour isn’t going to harm you really, unless you keep its microwave vibrations too close to your brain. However, buying the watered down, “safe” spiritual truths provided by spiritual teachers with Gurutitis (i.e. overinflated ego caused by a damaged ego and an experience of connection) or with money on the mind will harm you, because the teachings are either not authentic or not as powerful as they could be if greed and bodily ego were not in the way. Buying into inauthentic teachings provided by inauthentic teachers can reverse your healing process and maintain or even deepen your disconnection. You want to be careful of that.
For more on gurutitus, see https://spiritwiki.lightningpath.org/Gurutitus.
 You can’t really meet an essential need for family time by eating a grotesque fun meal, nor can you meet an unmet need for self-esteem by putting shiny metal and a big shiny rock on your finger. See https://spiritwiki.lightningpath.com/Lame_Attachment.
 A lot of people are addicted to fast food and they got that way because the advertisers helped it along.