The Poor Kid’s Money Stories
I want to share with you a conversation that I overheard between a dad as a springboard
to reflect on our Money Stories, how we learned them and how we can transform them
so that we can manifest our Dream and fulfill our brightest potential.
As I walked uptown the other day, I overheard a conversation between an 11-year old
boy and his father. They were walking uptown to El Barrio, the Latino community here.
The boy wanted money for something. I couldn’t hear what. The dad answered:
“I told you that I don’t have money, Junior. I can’t get money out of a hat.”
That’s another version of “money doesn’t grow on trees” that is so prevalent.
I’m sure you heard it when you were growing up, and most of us believe that it’s true,
it’s common sense and it’s a good teaching. We are being taught not to waste money
and that we will need to work to have money. Right?
Well, that was my first thought. But something did not sound right, so I listened deeply
As I listened, my second thought was:
“’No’ is not a teaching. It is not empowering. What is the father teaching the boy?”
Here are a couple of answers:
- We are poor. We don’t have money. Get used to it.
- When you grow up you won’t be able to make money easily. Money is hard to get.
These messages are not obvious at first, but when you consider alternative answers,
the true message sticks out like a sore thumb. Here are different things the dad could have said.
- What are you willing to do to earn the money for this?
- I have a couple of jobs around the house and I could use some help. Do them,
and I’ll pay you the money for that or what you want.
- How can you make the money for that right now?
- Why don’t you start saving your allowance to buy it?
Do you see the difference? In the actual answer, there is no alternative, no option.
There is no money. Period. It is a closed system. This creates a lack relationship with
money, with what we want and with our ability to fulfill our own needs. It is a
disempowering message to a child.
In the alternative answers, there are options. The child is empowered with the notion
that he can do something, that he can earn the money. He is given ideas on how he can
do this. Now the child is in control. The relationship with money is that of something
you generate, something easily accessible and something that is the consequence of
your personal power.
When you heard the dad’s answer, what was your reaction? Did you interpret it as
positive, as teaching the child that he could not get every whim? To be considerate
of his parents?
Now that you see there are other ways to answer this question, consider why you
saw it as positive or common sense to start with.
Many of us have been deeply wounded in our relationship with money and our
ability to manifest our dreams and fulfill our potential.
Perhaps our parents did not have the skills to teach us how to generate money. Perhaps
they also had been wounded. Or simply, they thought that using phrases like that was
enough and empowering.
But denial and repression have never been empowering.
The relationship that most of us have with money is one of mixed constrictive emotions, including:
Hunger, anger, frustration, helplessness, rejection, desire and giving away our power.
When we want money to have what we want, but think we cannot make money,
money is hard to generate, we can’t make enough money and other such thoughts,
we become angry with money.
When we think that only rich people can live the life they want and we will never have
the money, we feel trapped and helpless, and we get angry with money while at the
same time we resent rich people, so we do not want to be rich.
This creates several crippling, paralyzing and self-sabotaging Inner Wars in us:
- Creativity Vs. Money
- Hunger of money Vs. Rejecting of Money
- Anger with Money Vs. Need for Money
- Integrity and values Vs. Prosperity
- Desire to fulfill our ambitions or dreams Vs. Rejection of being successful or affluent
It also creates mythologies about money, such as:
- You are not successful if you don’t make a lot of money.
- Money is the measure of true success.
- I have not truly achieved anything worthy because I don’t have a lot of money yet.
- People with money are bad and exploit others
- Money is very hard to get
- This person is more powerful than me because he has a lot of money
Finally, our hunger and mythologies about money allow us to give our power away to
people whom we believe to be rich. We get “starry eyes” with these people and may
give our power away to them, allowing them to exploit us, be rude or unkind, bully us
or blackmail us with the promise of some money.
Though this answer alone is not necessarily damaging to a child, I’m sharing this to
help us reflect on our relationship with money, what we learn about money as we
were growing up, and how we can empower ourselves with a different money story
that enables us to manifest our dream, fulfill our potential and appreciate who
we are and what we have already accomplished.