Taught To Be Poor By a Blue Banana

Surely every parent has to admit that they’ve botched parenting from time to time. For me that’s a gross understatement.  If there are totally perfect parents out there, I’m not sure I even want to meet them.   

It’s not that we set out to mess up our kid’s lives – gosh we love them more than life itself.  In fact at the time we thought we were being incredibly wise and almost certainly we were doing our best.  Fortunately our kids are extremely resilient and they adapt and grow through pretty well every foolish and faltering thing we’ve done to them.  That, plus the fact that we also did a lot of things right has, hopefully, enabled them to live purposeful and prosperous lives.

A new book by a good friend of mine got me wondering about what I actually taught my kids especially in their early years.  What did I teach them about their own power to create reality; about relationships; about courage, ambition, and purpose?  And most of all I wonder what I taught them about prosperity.  Do they see a world of lack or a world of abundance?

Then I started musing on what my parents taught me – and again I focused on this issue of prosperity and abundance.  I came to the unpleasant conclusion that I was taught to be poor.

Now we three kids were very loved; that’s not at all the issue here.  Loving parents taught me to be poor.  Many of you know that I was born and raised in Nigeria, the son of missionaries fully dedicated to God’s work of looking after lepers and spreading Christianity.  Pretty noble work actually.  We lived in a small tin-roofed mud house on an isolated edge of the Sahara desert without communication, electricity or running water.  Any meat was cooked to the point of sterilization and milk was purchased by the gourd-full from the top of a Fulani woman’s head – at least we think that’s what it was.  We chewed raw sugar cane for our candy treats.  In other words ‘textbook’ missionary stuff. 

As I look back, my parent’s belief seems to have been that the ‘higher’ one’s calling or purpose, the greater one’s suffering and lack.  Apparently, I always assumed, that’s the way God designed it. Conversely the higher your prosperity, obviously the lower and more carnal your calling and purpose.  And where did that concept come from?  As the Church Lady used to say: “Could it have been Satan?”

But though I was socialized into valuing suffering and poverty surely I’ve overcome that limiting belief at some point during the 30 plus years of being a successful entrepreneur.  I mean, come on – I make more in a single speech than my parents made in six months of dawn to dusk missionary work in the leprosy village. 

Or have I?   

The book that stirred all this up was Randy Gage’s new book Why You’re Dumb, Sick and Broke…and how to get smart, healthy and rich.  Now before you let the title slam your mind shut, I’ll tell you honestly that this is one of the most intelligent, thought provoking, well written and deep books I’ve read in a long time.  The in-your-face title is pure Gage trying to get us all hot and bothered – as he finally admits late in the book.  Just ignore it and buy the book. Get one for your dumb, sick and broke brother-in-law too.

My point here is that many of us think we’ve overcome any limiting dimensions of our early socialization – that any lack-oriented subconscious programming we received from both loving and non-loving sources no longer holds sway over our beliefs and the energy we emit to the universe.  We were lost but now we’re found.  We were blind but now we see.

Well…not so fast.

Our mind-sets are almost indestructible and impenetrable.  Hard wired.  Locked in. Signed, sealed and delivered.  We’ve done okay so we assume that we don’t have limiting beliefs any longer. Unfortunately, and I don’t know about you, my subconscious mind is still holding me back from what I’m really capable of accomplishing.  Like the old preacher said: “Hell will be discovering what you could have done with your life.” 

In an article titled Why it's so hard to find a blue banana, German psychologist Karl Gegenfurtner and his colleagues explain this mental/spiritual tug-o-war.  Like crabs in a pot all trying to escape but instead pulling each other down – our subconscious programming continually pulls us back from living the life of our highest dreams.

His point is that we like to think we see things how they are.  What we really see ‘out there’ is what our brain expects to see.  It’s like a mentally-generated virtual reality, he says.

What he did was show participants images of strangely colored fruit against a grey background.  For example a pink banana.  The task was to adjust the color of the fruit until it blended exactly with the grey background.  As simple as that sounds, the participants couldn’t do it.  The problem was that they were actually adjusting two colors – the pink in the original picture and the yellow banana that their brain said had to be there as well.  Invariably they ended up with a bluish banana.  In other words their subconscious mind-set about bananas wouldn’t let go so they could accomplish the task.
To drive the point home the participants were also shown shapes in various colors and again were asked to adjust the color so it matched the grey…which they did perfectly.  The color of the shapes, after all, had not been part of their mental programming.  That bananas are yellow was.  At least I think bananas are yellow.

So can we adjust any lack expectation we may have to match an abundant universe waiting for us to access its gifts?  In spite of this research I cling to a ‘YES’.  But it’s awfully hard to do.
In his book Gage drives home example after example from the movies we watch (rich people are typically portrayed as mean and miserable while poor people are portrayed as carefree and fun-loving); to what we experience in church on Sunday morning (we have to suffer to be righteous); to the news we hear morning noon and night (which is nothing but how humans are destroying each other and their planet).  I don’t even want to mention the lack-minded commercials of those running for election right now!  Are they all pathetic, phony and paranoid?  We actually ask these miserable negative people to lead our country?
Changing our programming takes discipline.  Do anything and everything to keep a vision of your richly imagined future in your mind.  Hang out with people who see the enormous potential of their own lives as well as yours.  Read and watch material that makes you dream big dreams.  In short – BELIEVE!  The word comes to us from the Proto-Germanic language and it meant to “hold dear and to love.”  Hold dear to your highest self and all that you can wonderfully imagine.  If we could all adjust our life’s colors to the rainbow of purpose, passion and prosperity what a fabulous world we would create.  And what joy that would bring us all.

Until next time – be purposeful!


PS: You’ll find Randy’s book Why You’re Dumb, Sick and Broke…and how to get smart, healthy and rich at any bookstore, Amazon.com or go right to http://www.randygage.com/products/sick-broke.html  Get a bunch of them because you’re going to run into lots of people who really need to read it – plus it’s coming up on Christmas.