Updated: Feb 23, 2019
Not too long ago, I sat in my church service watching my middle son, LJ. He had somehow managed to get a dollar and was holding that thing in his hand. The boy was wearing a pair of jeans with several pockets and even had a Batman wallet in one of those pockets. Yet, there he sat, waving that dollar in front of him as if it fascinated him.
Every few minutes, his older brother, Ashton, would make a grab for the money. The two would sit in the church seats, fighting over that dollar in silence (a skill I presume they learned to avoid my "sit down, be quiet and don't make me take you out of this sanctuary" stare). They would tussle for a while until Ashton got bored and gave up, but his boredom never lasted long. A few minutes later, LJ would once again be struggling to keep hold of a dollar that SHOULD have been in the wallet in his pocket.
An hour later, after service, I watched the same phenomenon with my youngest child, Gabriel. Someone had graced his three-year-old hands with 2 nickels and a dime. He would pull the change out of his pocket at every opportunity and proudly show it to whoever would look, telling the world that he had money.
In both instances, the children were told to put the money in their pockets and leave it there. Deciding at that moment to be obedient, they would do so, only to eventually pull it back out and put it on display once again.
The experience stuck with me. So much so that the next day, I found myself asking some question...
... Why is it that the children find it necessary to show that they have money?
... Where did they learn this behavior from?
... This seems familiar. Have I seen this behavior before?
That last question is where it started to hit home: This seems familiar. Have I seen this behavior before?
Actually, I HAD seen if before... throughout my coaching practice. That left me with two key questions that were leading to an unexpected revelation.
Is it possible that this is the same thing that we adults do when we buy the flashy cars, the big houses, the name brand clothes and put our highlight reel of vacations (we probably couldn’t afford) on Instagram and Facebook?
Was what my children displayed merely seeing a childish representation of what we adults have been doing?
As I continued to ask myself these questions, my mind shifted to the behavior of my oldest child and the latest batch of teenagers. I begin to wonder if their obsession with name brand clothes and the latest tech was the same thing. Did they brag about things that their parents bought (because they could never afford them) for the same reason? I wondered if it really was the same mentality of flashing your money around.
Think about it...
When you’re a kid and you show everyone that you have money, you're met with excited voices and fake enthusiasm from the adults around you. The adults act like it's so amazing that you have some money. And the more money that you have, the more impressed and animated the adults become.
The adults in our lives inadvertently gave us validation when we had money, and what child doesn't love a bit of validation?
Heck, what ADULT doesn't love a bit of validation?
But not only does the child learn to seek the validation, they also learn to give it. They learn to get excited when someone has a lot of money. They learn that, when someone has money, you're supposed to praise them.
Don't you catch yourself doing it with your kids? I do!
No wonder people look up to millionaires (even the ones with questionable morals) as role models and heroes.
The idea that we deserve or will receive validation and recognition for having money was ingrained in from the time that we were small children.
But here is the kicker, we were also told to put the money away.
So how am I supposed to get my validation and recognition if I put my money away?
...by buying STUFF or paying for expensive experiences that we absolutely HAVE to put on display!
This means the major struggles you have with money did not necessarily start with you. The belief that you need to have those nice things and fancy trips to bring you recognition and validation has been there for decades and has been reinforced time after time. We live in a society where creating the image that you have a lot of money provides you power, recognition and followers.
That's validation that all of that ALL of us desire.
So no, the fact that those beliefs and those habits exist is not necessarily your fault.
Continuing in that cycle IS your fault!
The reality is that YOU are the only person that can break that cycle in your life.
... You are the only person that can fix your beliefs about money.
... You are the only person that can disconnect your value and your self worth from money.
... You are the only person that can make yourself understand that it’s OK to have nice things because you enjoy them but it’s not OK to buy nice things just to get validation from others.
When you look at the definition of money, Merriam-Webster says that money is a “medium of exchange”. It is merely something we use to give a standard value to the stuff we desire and to make it easy to buy those things (because who wants to barter all the time).
Money is this tool that were supposed to use to survive and make our life more enjoyable. It was never intended to be the source of our validation.
So if you find yourself stuck in that cycle of flashing your money to get validation and recognition, make a decision today to BREAK THE CYCLE!
Everything starts with a decision.
What are you deciding?
Tiana B. Clewis
Ready to become a #dreambuilder in your money, your life and your business?