Sex, Food and Money: Why Do We Struggle So?
Once again, I am the bearer of bad news. I should be careful as I may develop a reputation. However, as you read through this (and I hope you do), please pay close attention to the simple (but not necessarily easy) solutions in the second part of this post.
Here we go (breathe deeply and repeatedly)…
First let’s look at some rather sobering sex statistics:
- As many as 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually abused at some point in their childhood.
- Only about 30% of cases of sexual abuse are reported to authorities.
- 30% of all data transferred across the Internet is pornography.
- The most conservative statistics say that at least 65% of males and close to 50% of females admit to sexual infidelity at least once in their life. These are widely viewed as underestimates as many people don’t report their infidelities, even in anonymous surveys.
Next, a few reminders of our apparent struggle with food:
- As of 2010 nearly 70% of adult Americans were overweight or obese. Specifically, 35.7% of adult Americans are obese, and this is the highest level of obesity in the recorded history of the United States.
- CDC researchers estimate that obesity now accounts for 9.1% of all medical spending—$147 billion in 2008. Additionally, this “fatter and sicker work force” is a HUGE drag on economic growth.
And lastly, our dysfunctional relationship with money:
- In 2011 and 2012 there were a combined 2,631,774 bankruptcies filed. Although medical expenses and job loss were the top two causes of bankruptcies, number three was poor use of credit.
- Gambling has become a $40 billion dollar a year industry in the United States.
- The average credit card debt for a U.S. citizen is close to $10,000–mostly accumulated from unnecessary purchases.
- Personal bankruptcies rose from 240,000 in 1980 to 1,400,000 in 1998 and during the same period state regulated casinos were introduced in 12 other states. One report found bankruptcy rates are 18% higher in counties with one gambling facility and 23% higher in counties with five or more gambling facilities.
Okay, now make sure you’re breathing again.
Sex, not only our means for procreation, but also something that’s supposed to be a beautiful, wonderful and the most intimate of personal connections, seems to have gotten contaminated by power, control and out-of-control lust.
Food, which, along with oxygen, is our primary source of energy, health, wellbeing and life itself, has turned into the most addictive substance in the world.
And money, which is simply a convenient medium of exchange (versus bartering goats), has become a runaway train that is sending people to live on the streets and in the goat fields.
Have we lost our minds?
Yes, sorta. Let me explain…
What do sex, food and money have in common? They all have the ability to be HUGE mood changers, even though the change of mood is only short-lived. In other words, they can temporarily change the way we feel, otherwise known as, our emotional state.
Who wants to feel sad, lonely, depressed, angry or frustrated? (I didn’t see any raised hands.) And since none of us want to feel those negative emotional states, it’s very easy to turn to sex, food and/or money as a way of self-comfort.
In other words, sex, food and money have become our new (but not really) “drugs of choice.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
One of the more interesting paradoxes in our culture is the absurd number of books, audios and educational programs focused on eating healthy and proper dieting, budgeting, appropriate spending and financial planning, and happy, healthy and harmonious relationships, but yet we have all these dysfunctions!
Emotional management. Yes, learning to better manage the emotions that are the triggers for these behaviors. Too bad most of the well-intended books, audios and educational programs offer very little, if any, information about emotional management.
What if we turned the major societal intuitions upside-down and put emotional management as priority number one? (By the way, this would result in far less violent crimes, domestic abuse and probably even wars…just saying.)
Our schools then would focus first on emotional management through assertive communication training, stress management development and meditation.
Our churches would use the pulpits to teach the importance of healthy emotional expression and use stories from their corresponding spiritual teachings and scripture to show examples.
Our government would make sure that there is funding for emotional management programs.
Our families would openly discuss emotions and the appropriate display of such.
Businesses would offer far more wellness programs focused on improving emotional management skills.
The media would have special sections and editorials with the primary focus on improving emotional management.
And communities in general would include emotional management and emotional wellness into their budgets.
I know, I’m a dreamer. Been told that my whole life. So was Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Ludwig van Beethoven, Bob Dylan, Steven Spielberg, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and, of course, Walt Disney.
Call me crazy, or maybe just a dreamer whose time has come. Regardless, it’s time for all of us to become better emotional managers and positive emotional expression role models and so we can create a more emotionally intelligent planet.
Marry YourSelf First…the emotionally intelligent choice!