Imagine Life without Economic Trauma
Imagine a world of peace, prosperity, regeneration, and wellbeing for all.
Then notice, what does it feel like to imagine that? Does your heart skip a beat? Are you energized to move forward toward your vision? Or is a part of you sickened or angered that ‘peace’ seems an impossibility amidst this current crisis of division, doubt, and despair?
Sure, we might sing it, but in this economy, who has the bandwidth to luxuriate in the imagination of peace? Please be honest, dear reader: how many of us just want to poke at the peaceful dreamer and tell them to get back to work?! Or for the luxuriating privileged, how quickly do ideas on how to profit enter your visions of peace?
While the economics textbooks will try to convince us that scarcity is real, we know it is merely a matter of modern monetary mechanics. Scarcity causes stress, and chronic stress wrecks havoc on the body and mind, just like any other trauma. Economic trauma: it’s less a question of what is it, than what isn’t it?
Engineered scarcity brings decreased cognitive bandwidth and increased cognitive dissonance as we find ourselves playing a perpetual zero-sum game between planet Earth and our investment portfolios. Dissonance symptoms like depression and anxiety, despair and outrage, are so pervasive they are often invisible. And so a condition becomes a culture.
Like a woven finger trap toy, the more we try to pull away and distance ourselves from the discomfort of cognitive dissonance, the more tightly we become caught in the trap. Separating our psyches in order to protect them results in the chronic “Othering” of people and the planet. One word for this is racist, another, rapacious. Racism and the willingness to destroy the ecosystem we all depend on for life are symptoms of Economic Trauma.
Understanding what causes economic trauma (manufactured scarcity from over-reliance on debt-based money and the resulting monetary growth imperative) and what it looks like (90% of what ails us, as estimated by the author) can help us recognize it and reach out beyond our traumatized shells and toward our inherent humanity and desire for goodness. Blame and shame, a warring approach to problem-solving, and our continued entanglement in divisive politics, all speak to how trauma has hijacked our better selves and the more coherent part of our brains. Perhaps it helps to know that our personal and collective reactivity are the naturally triggered responses of human beings who are chronically under stress and duress. How do we exit the vicious cycle?
Navigating our way out requires having an understanding of not just what we want, but of where we want to go. Let’s revisit our imagination, rebuke the growth and busy-ness imperative, and take time to envision a flourishing future. Ok, if that is too much, let’s keep it simple and imagine for just a moment that the goal is simply to maintain the balance of life on Earth.
It is traumatizing, but in order to do this, we must acknowledge the threat of ecosystem collapse. Yet addressing this trauma with the entirety of our brain-body means working together to discharge the trauma from our bodies (mindfulness in nature is a great way), while working to rectify the source (co-creating solutions). This means teaching a Prosocial Process of eco-mindfulness, coherent thinking, the evolutionary science of cooperation, and laboratory (equity-centered) design-thinking in classrooms and boardrooms everywhere.
Understanding the causes and symptoms of economic trauma can allow for more compassion for ourselves and each other when we see our trauma responses of “fight, flight, freeze, and fawn” (Walker, 2018) continuously devolve our character and culture, and derail us from responding effectively and cooperatively to the urgency of the moment.
How can the Prosocial Process help your business heal Economic Trauma and co-create a world of peace, prosperity, regeneration, and wellbeing for all?