Monday, January 30, 2012

Finally, An Answer

Several months ago, I wrote a post that offended some apparently. It was about how I don't always understand the way poor people think. It was not intended to be judgmental -- as I explained in a later post, I genuinely realized that there's something in this mindset I don't understand and I want to understand it.

And last week, an FB friend posted an article that helped tremendously. (Lots of offensive language in there, I'll warn you.) THIS is what I needed to hear. THIS makes so many things so clear. I knew there had to be a logic behind the action and I wanted to understand. And here it is.

Like why sudden windfalls of money disappear rather than being put into savings for a rainy day. "When you live in poverty, you're used to your bank account revolving very tightly around a balance of zero," he says. "That's the life you've gotten used to. It's normal for you. . . When a windfall check is dropped into your lap, you don't know how to handle it. . . it isn't a greed thing. It's a panic thing. 'We have to spend this before it disappears.'" Now, I can understand that. That's very much akin to how I think about oreos.

Or the thought process he describes behind purchasing things at a higher price than necessary. "That six-pack of toilet paper is only three bucks. But there's a sale on the 12-pack for only two dollars more? F[orget] that. That's an extra two bucks I'll need before the week is done." I can imagine thinking that way. "You skip over the great 2-for-1 deal on laundry detergent because you're not out of laundry detergent yet. . . then you have to take whatever price the store gives you that day, because you can't wash your clothes otherwise." I GET this. I don't think this way about purchases, but I probably think this way about other things in my life.

We're not all that different. We all have our areas of irrationality . . . of lack of discipline . . . of stupid habitual thinking. After all, it all boils down to our thinking. Our behavior is a result of how we think about something -- usually how we habitually think about something. And our thoughts are a result of our belief systems -- our deep, down, don't-even-realize-it belief systems. And our belief systems may or may not be based in reality. That's true of all of us. We all have areas of our lives where we are not in touch with reality. Some of us is surfaces in our checking account . . . some of us in our cookie jar and on our bathroom scale.

But the key is changing the thought processes and belief systems. And we begin by understanding them.

1 comment:

Aunt V said...

I think this is right. The families I use to work with would say they know the money is going to go but if they buy something they have something to show for it. That is success. It is a whole different way of thinking. They certainly live in the moment. Sometimes good...sometimes bad...