Episode 137- What Is Your First Memory Of Money?

What Is Your First Memory Of Money?

A while back I heard a conversation. I can’t remember where I heard it from and I don’t like to talk about something where I can’t give credit to where the source came from but I can’t remember. They were talking about your first memories of money and also about how your first memories of money really shape your attitude towards money. And your mindset and even your relationship with money as you grow older. I didn’t think it was surprising but I thought it was very interesting. I thought what was my first memory of money and what is your first memory of money? Is it scarcity? Is it abundance? Is it money doesn’t grow on trees? Or, is it something different from that? And I can tell you my first memory of money and I didn’t think about until I heard this person talking about what your first memories of money are. And this was the first time I thought about this and maybe I need therapy for this or to get this out. So, I am going to tell you mine but I’d also love to know what yours are and to see if you have any correlation to the way that your life is now or the way you think about money or the way you handle money and maybe there’s a connection there.

When I was really young, my parents would take us to church. I was young I was probably four years old and we still lived in Queens. I still remember the church felt really narrow. The stained-glass windows with the light coming in from the right-hand side. We were in the pew on the right-hand side, the aisle. I remember that distinctly. They were passing around the collection tray to collect money for the church and obviously this happened every week and I’m sure I experienced it before, but this is the one that burned into my brain. so, they’re passing this thing around and it’s in front of me. I see it being passed around. I see people putting the money into the tray. It’s almost like this wicker basket with this green felt on top of the wicker. 

So, I am sitting there next to my brother and I’m kind of mesmerized watching this thing get passed around. With each movement, another person put more money into it. They pass along and I am just staring at it and it makes a turn to comes down to our aisle. So, I am staring at it but I am not staring at it for the money. I am not even old enough to equate what’s going on there with that. But I am staring at the green felt and the way the light was hitting it. It looks so interesting to me as the fabric. It goes to my mom and my mom put money into it and it passed along to me. And I reached my hand into the basket only to feel this green felt because that felt looks so interesting to me. It looked cozy and looked comfortable and I just want to rub it. But as I reached my hand in there, the feel of felt, both my mom and my dad grabbed my arm and they seem mad at me and they both just give me a look and I didn’t understand what they were mad about. Obviously, the basket went past me and went to the next people. By the time it got to the next aisle, one of them said to me you don’t take the money. I was really confused because I remember thinking I wasn’t taking the money. So, I remember getting really confused after that. I remember feeling like I did something wrong but I didn’t even know what I did wrong so I was really confused.

So, when I heard these people talk about what is your first memory of money. That’s the first story that comes up with the first feeling for me that comes up with the first memory of money is shame. This is kind of going through therapy as we were talking because I felt bad for something that I’ve didn’t even tried to do. I just want to feel the felt and they thought I was reaching in the take money out of the collection. And I didn’t even have interest in the money. What I do with it and how would I get away with that anyway? And it really is quite interesting as I think about my relationship with money as I grew up, and then later on, I wound up stealing from different jobs that I worked. I wound up getting arrested for stealing as a teenager. And the shift about how money became important after all that stuff happened an learning how bad that was what I did and now ironically teaching about it, and there really is the correlation there because I felt like a thief. I felt like a thief when I didn’t even try to steal money and I felt like it because it seemed like to have an expectation that I was going to steal the money. And sometimes when you’re expected to be a certain way, the boundaries are broken down and you become that because you believe that you. And this is not blaming my parents for that at all. That’s not what this is about. I am saying that I felt like a thief. At that age, I didn’t even know it was possible to steal money. I didn’t think anybody would do something like that. But then I went to do something like that, something that was innocent and that was the response. I think back in how I didn’t get along with my parents through my teenage years and as I speak this out as I think about this, I wonder did I steal later to get attention. Because I reached in there to feel the felt, but it seemed like I was stealing and I got attention when I did that. I got serious attention. 

Growing up and having these conversations with my parents as we gotten older and battling two different issues. My biggest issue growing up as I never felt like I got enough attention. And I think that’s why now as we raise our kids the time component is so important to me because I have good parents but I always wanted my dad to be there more. I always wish there were more conversations and more time together. I think I always miss that. It feels kind of like a revelation talking about this because is it possible that first memory of money, that subconsciously I felt that when I do stuff like that, I’m getting attention which at that time, I felt like I wasn’t getting that. I know as I got older and became a teenager when I stole and I got in trouble, I got attention. Now it wasn’t good attention but I think when you feel empty there, bad attention is better than little attention. 

So, it’s quite remarkable when you start thinking about these things and this formative years in our life and things we wonder like why we act this way? Why do I do these things? Or, why do these people do these things? And those years, even the most seemingly benign conversations, like what happened at church, my parents were just doing what any parent would do like hey you can’t grab that money. And what else would they be thinking if you stick your hand into a pile of money. So, I find these things really fascinating because it’s these conversations that really help you figure out who you are, why you become who you are and that gives you the fuel to figure it out to get better. So, I want you to figure it out. I want you to be curious and you remember what your first memories of money were. Was it generosity? Was it somebody who give you something that you didn’t have to make you feel the world’s a great place and I want to be like that? Was it scarcity where you know the saying, money doesn’t grow on trees? And now you’re in your 30s or 40s and you’re still acting the same way. I’d love you think about maybe you can have a revelation and hopefully you’ll be better off for it as well because I’ve been. But that’s that. A little therapy session from me to you and I will back with you tomorrow.

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