Quick disclaimer: I do not blame my parents, teachers, neighbors, friends, or ANYONE else for the attitudes, stories, and habits I picked up as a child (Yes, even the negative ones!). The past is gone, and I am responsible for my happiness (and wealth!). I’m sharing my experience because I think it will be help to make my point 🙂
First of all, let me say that my parents (and my larger community) got a lot of things right when in it came to raising me. I was given a massive “Thumbs up!” that I could be creative: I was encouraged to draw, make up stories, act, and invent music on the keyboard. Meanwhile, I was taught that I could excel in school, and in fact that I could excel at anything I applied myself to do. I was encouraged to play outside, eat good food, and enjoy good times with friends.
Now, when it came to money… the messages were highly mixed, to say the least.
On the plus side, I was taught to be frugal, and not to waste money (or anything, for that matter… something I generally agree with). I was taught that money can be used for fun activities and trips. And finally, I learned that there are two especially important things worth spending money on: family and education. For these positive attitudes, I am grateful.
Now for the negative side. First of all, I was taught that money was hard to come by. I learned to expect very little money, and to make do with what I had (even if it didn’t seem like enough). Although I didn’t realize this, I was taught that adults basically live a month-to-month existence, and that stress over bills (the result of poor money management) is a normal part of living.
In other words, I was taught to worry about and be fearful of money. This was amplified by the message I got that money itself might actually be morally bad. I even got the message that it is virtuous to be poor, and that having money somehow compromises one’s integrity or moral superiority. In fact, money seemed to be somehow wrapped up in the troubles of the world, as if it was on some level to blame for pollution, disease, and war.
I knew how joyful having money made me: from buying Christmas gifts and video games to going to movies and amusement parks, money was the vehicle for fun! At the same time, I repeatedly got the message that money was not a good thing to have. Did it make me a bad person if I wanted money?
Writing this now, I realize how misguided this thinking was. I wish I had the knowledge to reject these negative ideas as a child. I take full ownership for the fact that I let myself believe them. But at the time, I didn’t know I had the option to think different. For a long time, I sided with the attitudes I was raised on. I tried to avoid money as long as possible. It contributed to a sort of Peter Pan syndrome, where I didn’t want to grow up. But it was not that I didn’t want to grow up. It was that thought that growing up would be miserable… and largely for financial reasons!
Once I finally entered adulthood, I realized how wrong I was, and how fun being a grown up (and life in general) can be. I started to realize that I had believed a bunch of lies, the result of negative programming. Initially, this negative programming was a handicap to my happiness.
I know now that this programming was a blessing, because it has fueled my hunger for knowledge of empowering principles of abundance. And that is a big part of who I am now as an artist, teacher, and human being.
It’s a big reason I’m writing this blog article now.
Every single person who reads this has inherited attitudes about money. The question is, are those attitudes serving you, or are they not? When it comes to money, what outlook did you inherit from others around you? Do you have an essentially positive view of money, or do you, like I did, have deeply mixed feelings based on the messages you received?
If the thoughts on this blog are appealing to you, I’m going to guess that you can relate on some level to what I’m writing about. I promise you, taking this line of inquiry will be very instructive. You will find the most amazing pot of gold at the end of this rainbow:
No matter what beliefs you have been raised with, you have the power to change them! Yes, it takes work, yes it may take weeks, months, years, or even decades, yet your desire to be happy will ultimately prevail!
You have much reason to be happy. If you just start doing the work 😉
Please comment below on the money messages you received as a child.
2 Thoughts to “The Curse of Negative Childhood Money Messages”
I can’t stop reading these fantastic posts of yours, Chris. It’s just like we’re in the same room again, having some of those wonderful conversations we had way back when.
I learned that money is the kiss of death for creativity and yet indispensable for without it, I won’t survive. Without it, I have no security and am easily looked down on, pitied or ignored. I learned wanting money is shameful and not to be discussed. I learned having it makes you an important, reputable member of society who lives in an artificial, privileged realm I have nothing to do with. I learned refusing to be bound by money gives you the innocence of a child—or a clown—for a time. I learned real art doesn’t make money (or much money) and that a real artist can count on getting fame and financial remuneration after his or her death. In short I learned you’re damned if you have it and damned if you don’t!
Translation=you got massive mixed messages, like a lot of us, but what do you think now?
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