Did anyone show you how?
When do we learn things along the way? When do we learn the real lessons?
Is it as a kid at school, or whilst studying at University? Or is it when we are blindly trying to make it in the world as an adult, supporting a family, raising a child, trying to do the right thing?
I am thinking about these questions after listening to an amazing podcast with Michael Mervosh, a psychotherapist (you can listen here)*. I didn’t fully start resonating with what he was saying until about 25 minutes in, but it was the deep gravelly seduction of his voice that kept me listening. And I’m glad I did.
I love coming across conversations like this on financial podcasts. There you are thinking you are going to learn something new about the markets or investing and you get thrown deep into a conversation about life, love, meaning and everything between.
Michael talks a little about his childhood, which I took as being rough (my interpretation may be wrong). Somewhere he said ‘adults were adults doing adult things in the adult world’.
“The deep wound a lot of us carry, is nobody showed us how the world works. Like, how it works. This thing around ‘I don’t know how to make it in the world’ is so deep seated. This great fear. They don’t show us how the world works.”
He goes on:
“One of my favourite Campbell (referring to Joseph Campbell, American author and teacher) quotes is ‘if you want to help this world, show people how to live in it’. Show them how to live in it. Show them how to live in it. There’s so much shame in ‘we don’t know how’ and envy – we’re like ‘oooh you know how…mmmm you have a really nice house…how did you get that? How did you get that nice house? What do you know that I don’t know? It’s that deep underground competitive current.”
And of course, as he says, we don’t always want to know how. What we actually want, often, is just to be given. ‘Just give it to me. Just give me a house like that.’
And here we find ourselves in this world of entitlement, of envy, of competition, of greed. And he’s right, behind all of that is fear.
I can’t tell you the number of times someone has said to me (someone smart and successful) ‘I should be better at this, I should know this.’ And I say no, you shouldn’t know it because you were never taught it. You were sent out in the world knowing Latin, and the capital cities, and Shakespeare, and Hitler, but no one ever taught you about money. No one ever showed you how to use your money wisely and live your best life.
We are adults doing adult things in an adult world. Except for when it comes to money. And then we are still a little bit like children. We are figuring it out as we go along. Hoping everything will be ok. Keeping our fingers crossed. Wondering if everyone else feels the same. But too afraid to ever ask for help.
What happens if you do ask for help? As Michael says in the podcast – does someone show you how, or do they do it for you? How does that work?
Ultimately I think almost everyone needs help, because unless you have spent decades doing this every day, you can’t really know how (and even then, there is still so much to learn).
*I can’t recommend listening to this conversation highly enough. If you are patient, start at the beginning. Otherwise, dive in at minute 25.