An insight that is fundamental to financial therapy, which I learned over 20 years ago and often quote, is, “We can only go as far with our clients as we’ve gone with ourselves.” It comes from my friend and colleague Gayle Colman, a CFP who has practiced out of the Boston area for decades and is now splitting time between South Carolina, Boston, and Maine. She is the author of The Body of Money: A Self-Help Guide to Create Sustainable Wealth through Innate Intelligence. Gayle was a guest on one of my recent podcasts.
I think it is so incredibly foundational and important for anybody in the helping business to actually be a consumer of what they preach or the service that they deliver. It feels like a huge universal truth. As Gayle points out, it applies to the practitioner as well as the client. Why would someone want to engage in an experience or impose something on a person they care about if they have never really embodied or experienced it themselves? It is, at a minimum, an aspect of the tenet to “do no harm” that is so fundamental in the medical field.
Gayle’s book and much of her work focuses on “Somatic Intelligence,” or body wisdom. Brain science is now advanced enough to begin to measure and confirm the wisdom of the body, so that the science can support the innate intelligence that we have within us. Gayle calls this a “loving and generous direction” that can support our wellbeing across many professions, including financial planning, financial therapy, psychotherapy, and medicine. The helping professionals can point the people they are serving and supporting back to themselves because their wisdom is within them.
One aspect of somatic intelligence is our awareness of what’s going on around us—what our bodies are saying about our surroundings and the people we are with. This is our intuition, our awareness, our “gut feelings.” Am I comfortable? Am I getting a weird vibe about this situation? Is this person trustworthy? Am I connecting with this person? What does this space I am inhabiting feel like? Is it authentic and safe? This body wisdom helps us, not just to know when something is really wrong, but to realize when we need to be more discerning, to investigate further and gain more understanding.
Gayle’s book brings her research and work with the wisdom of the body into the realm of money and financial wellbeing. She has been exploring this relationship for a long time and has been told she was “too far ahead of the parade.” Yet the idea of somatic wisdom ties in with Internal Family Systems therapy and many other traditions and philosophies, which agree that within every person is the wisdom and understanding to know what is needed and what the decision is.
I suggest checking out Gayle’s website and blog for more information. She has a wonderful way of making this information really practical and applicable.
Check out The Financial Therapy Podcast by Rick Kahler concerning this topic.