Because so much of the work that I do as a coach is focused on money—as a currency and as a concept—I am constantly expanding my understanding of its function in our lives. And because I think of myself as an artist first and a coach second, I often gravitate towards the fringes of money. I would much rather explore money as a story, for example, than money as a transactional tool, although the two absolutely overlap.
Beyond money as bills and coins and checking accounts, I also like to think of money as one type of currency amongst many types of currency. Time being one of the others. And health. Sleep. Creative skills and energy. Anything we exchange for something else becomes a kind of money. And, just like the green and gold stuff, we can overdraw these currencies and go into debt. One that has no clear path to being paid off.
In the book The Body Keeps The Score, author Bessel A. van der Kolk writes, “Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies.” He also talks about the ways that people who have experienced trauma dissociate from their bodies as a coping mechanism. Our bodies learn to keep us safe long after the threat that caused the original trauma is gone.
This got me thinking about debt in somatic terms and all the ways I’ve made withdrawals from my body in the past. Which in and of itself is not harmful. However, when we take out more than we put in, like every other currency in our life, we risk going deeper into debt and then paying interest on those debts. Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to repay our bodies for the damage that’s been done to them.
Of course, healing is possible, especially the somatic kind. Our bodies are remarkable in that way. Even generational trauma is being worked through on an individual and collective level. At the same time, as I work on paying off my own somatic debts, I am longing for a world where the price we pay for doing the creative work that matters to us isn’t our bodies, our health, and our mental and emotional wellbeing.
I regularly read books and listen to podcasts that interview creatives, creators, and entrepreneurs about how they got to where they are now. So many of them sacrifice their bodies on the way to capitalist ideas of success. Which is a choice that they made. At the same time, I would like for creatives to have the option of both doing the work that they love without going into somatic debt.
So, what somatic debts are you paying off?