Events & Belief Formation: Thrift VS Stale Cornflakes

There are many concepts that describe a range of behaviour, and we have words to describe these concepts. If we strongly reject these concepts mentally and emotionally, which also means physically as emotions are felt through the body, we have something that is belief formation in action - and this can cause major disturbances in BEHAVIOUR at the end of the process.

Here is a fascinating story of belief formation around the topic of "being thrifty" caused by an event - and the main player was a packet of stale cornflakes.

During a recent prosperity consultation, we were looking at a list of "financial virtues" such as being sensible with money, saving money, and being "thrifty".

The person, a middle aged gentleman, was happy to accept that he had most of the financial virtues, at least to a degree; but when we got to thrift, he sat up straight, crossed his arms and said loudly, "THAT I want NOTHING to do with!"

I raised both eyebrows and said, "I don't see anything wrong with being thrifty. It's not penny pinching, it's just making the most of what you've got."

"I don't like it and I want nothing to do with it. It is against everything I stand for!" the gentleman exclaimed, now crossing his legs as well and leaning right back in the chair.

For my own amusement, I tried one more re-frame. "Look, thrifty doesn't have to mean you're poor. If you have billions to spend, surely spending it in such a way that every buck packs a bang, that you get the maximum bang for your buck is a Good Thing?"

He raised his chin and shook his head. "You can say what you like - thrift is disgraceful, disgusting, and should be surgically removed from the dictionary. I will NEVER change my mind on that, and you can talk until we're both dead, I still won't!"

By now, I could hardly hide my smile any longer.

Clearly, there was a disgraceful, disgusting EVENT connected to that word, thrift, that I simply did not share at all.

But what might it have been?

"So ... when I say thrift, what do you remember?" (eliciting the events story)

"I remember my grandmother forcing me to eat stale cornflakes for breakfast. Disgusting! And, and that makes it a million times worse, she was RICH! She had A FORTUNE in the bank, and much more in land, stocks and shares, her jewellery alone was worth enough to buy a palace with!

"But she was thrifty ... and couldn't even buy some decent breakfast cereals for her grandkids when they came to visit. She made my little brother cry, and then she hit him for not eating that disgusting dross!"

"So what was the exact moment you knew that you would NEVER be thrifty like her?"

"It was when she hit my little brother. I shot out of my chair and attacked her, I was so furious. Of course, I got a good hiding ..."

"Ok ... so ..."

The gentleman sighed and relaxed, bend forward and leaned his elbows on his knees. He rubbed his hands through his face.

Eventually he said quite sadly, "So that's why I have never been able to ... be good with money ..."

"I guess the little boy you were got his wires crossed. Did you even know what thrifty meant back then?"

He shook his head before he even had a chance to think about it. When he did think about it, he said, "I think it might have meant cruel, and heartless ..."

"And so what he didn't want to be is a good thing?"

The gentleman looked up at me and smiled. "Yes. Yes, yes it was. And I stand by that now. I don't want to be cruel, or heartless. I never want to make any small child cry by forcing stale, dried cornflakes into their mouth, and then hitting them when they to spit them out ..."

"And what about thrifty? Do you now know what that means, how is it different?"

"What that awful woman was doing wasn't thrifty. It was - stupid. I don't know what a fresh box of cornflakes costs these days, a pound or so? Trying to make kids eat stuff they don't want to eat and have it end in such disaster, that's a waste of energy, a waste of time, and a waste of money - no-one will ever eat those cornflakes. She might as well have chucked the pound straight in the bin - and that's NOT being thrifty!"

I was nodding all the way through his impassioned speech and asked, "And you? Do you want to be thrifty with your money now?"

He laughed out aloud and clapped his hands together, loudly.

"Damn right I do! Just watch this space!"


Dr Silvia Hartmann

August 2010

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