"Don't lie to me! I know you pawned the diamond earrings your mother gave you. You wouldn't have had to do if you didn't spend money like water. Both our salaries are small, and now, you want to borrow money from your father too? STOP SPENDING MONEY WE DON'T HAVE, GODDAMNIT!"
Welcome to a familiar scene from my childhood home. Picture me as a quiet twelve-year-old in pajamas with my ear firmly pressed to the kitchen door as my father berates my mother.
Only this time I am in a trance session, and my current self stands next next to my past 12 year-old self. I thought I had put this loud memory behind me more than once.
At the beginning of my adult life, I began to understand how lack of financial planning and cooperation between my parents affected my relationship with money. I had to work hard to undertake proper financial planning and I was not able to save money for the first 20 years of my career.
Later in therapy I understood that these fights were most probably about more than just money: about a lack of love and care. At the time my father wanted out of the marriage and these fights happened on regular intervals.
So now, standing beside my younger self I ask myself, 'Why am I here? I have already figured this out. Nothing to learn here. Let's move on."
Yet I realized that my previous epiphanies about my parents and money happened in regular consciousness. So instead of moving on from this scene, I decide to associate: to become my younger self. My shoulders roll forward, I slouch. My head aches and and my stomach fills with fear. I suddenly feel the unmistakable physical feeling of a deep scarcity.
A thought pierces my pains: my parents were not seeing the world from a place of abundance. They were not grateful, nor content with the actual riches they enjoyed: good jobs, great kids, a beautiful villa in the hills of Buda -- they were stuck in scarcity, stuck focusing on what they didn't have and how they could keep up with The Joneses.
I take my 12 year old self by his hand, together we open the closed kitchen door and enter for the first time. I break up the fight and ask my surprised parents to sit down with the two of us at the kitchen table.
I explain to them my purpose, what I have learned about scarcity thinking and its lasting effects on me. I inform them that even now, as the luckiest man in the world, with a beautiful wife and an even more beautiful, healthy 2 month old daughter as I plan to move back to the San Francisco, it still takes me great effort to be grateful and content -- and not give in to the pain, fear and sorrow of scarcity of an uncertain future.
I ask my parents to hold hands around the dinner table, and the four of us meditate on gratefulness and abundance. I thank them for their effort and they thank me for helping them to understand. My 12 year old self is calm now, he asks if he can go back to his room to go back to sleep.
This happened three weeks ago.
Last night as I recounted this to friends over a bottle of delicious Hungarian wine, it hit me. I haven't been plagued by scarcity worries and anxious thoughts recently. Ironically, I always remind my clients to watch out for changes in their thinking and emotions otherwise they might miss them. Sounds like I should take my own advice.
Well, that is how the unconscious works. Leaving old fears and obstacles behind can be so natural that we forget we held them close for 30 years. Moreover, this journey was a great reminder for me that understanding a problem conceptually and then actually connecting that problem with a physical feeling makes a world of difference. And for me, that difference can be as great as seeing the world from scarcity or from abundance.