You probably grew up hearing the phrase hakuna pesa, or there’s no money. Yet at the same time, as soon as that was said, some bulky home shopping arrived at the front door and you couldn’t reconcile both realities.
This happened countless times in my home. Even before you hit the aisles of the now-defunct Nakumatt - do you remember this supermarket? It’s not that I’m old, even those born in the 2000s will know this - you’ve already been told that the receipt will only carry the “necessary items”. So you stroll past all the tempting snack sections, and can only look at the chocolate bars on the counter. No buying and certainly, no biting.
Despite the moment of "let downs", you might have felt, therein were lessons about money. More to that, lessons about life. Your dad or mum or guardian might not have spelt it out but this is exactly what they were teaching you.
The psychology of impulse control is basically the degree to which someone can control their desire for immediate gratification. According to this article from Psychology Today, people who have this trait experience better life outcomes. How does this tie to this supermarket analogy?
Well, your dad, mum or guardian is taking you shopping with them to teach you how to prioritise things. All of us want the good, sweet things in life, like that chocolate bar, but you’ve got to realise that these things don’t come easily in life. You have to work and really work smart or hard, whichever works, to get them. For you to even get them, you will have to sacrifice some of the things you want now.
Do you often hear successful people constantly talk about the sacrifices they’ve made? Well, it might sound repetitive and boring but it’s because it’s the reality. Learn to prioritise and think about the next day and not just the here and now. The sooner you learn this, the better things will be for you.
My father was particularly an expert at this. He’d send me or any one of my siblings - we aren’t that many, don’t worry - to the shops nearby. Looking back, I think he intentionally gave us excess money, like KES 1000 note or KES 500 to buy a loaf of bread, because he was simply testing out our accountability skills.
So I’d go to the shop, buy the items, and get tempted to buy a sweet or two. Upon returning home, I’d innocently place the change on the table and leave. My dad won’t say anything sometimes for a day or two. Then when least expected, the question is asked. And with a razor-sharp memory, he recalls everything.
What was happening here is simply a lesson on accountability. In hindsight, it's a lesson that goes a long way. Again, not just with money, but also with anything you deal with in life. It shows that you can be trusted. You understand the value of things and people and you can be relied on.
Adapt or Suffer
How many times have you been to a supermarket and witnessed a kid becoming a “little monster, terrorising its parents?” Not my words by the way. Those belong to the esteemed Professor and Psychologist Dr Jordan Peterson. The version of events more often than not take this shape.
The kid wanders in the supermarket. As is always the case, they end up in the aisle with snacks. They pick a couple, take it to mommy or daddy who then directs them to return it. Trouble ensues. The kid throws tantrums and because it's a kid, shoppers glance with empathy. Depending on how the parent handles the issue, the drama either prolongs or ends.
So here is the thing. A parent who stands by his or her decision sends a message of decisiveness to the kid. There is no bending the rules no matter how long you cry. Even in front of strangers, the rules apply. Eventually, the kid will realise its theatrics aren’t producing the desired results. He or she will shut up. You know, kids are also smart. If the parent or guardian does the contrary, then the kid has one-upped them. This is going to be their go-to tactic.
Depending on the type of kid you were, you probably can look back and evaluate how your parents/guardians decisions shaped you. Do you always want to have things done your way or do you step back and understand the situation?
The outstanding lesson of this paragraph is, life is not a straight line. It's either you adapt or you suffer.
Read More: My Life With A Narcissist