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Skiing, insecurity, and my need for control

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:38pm

Todd and I went skiing this past weekend up at Mammoth. It was the first time I’ve skied inCalifornia. The snow was great, and it wasn’t too cold. We went with another couple and stayed in a on-mountain condo. It was ski-in/ski-out, so it was super convenient but, of course, super expensive. I’m still waiting on my year-end bonus – now I really need it! Another couple that are good friends of ours also just happened to be up there on their own. We skied a bunch with them, too. We all had a blast. The 5 hour car ride on Friday and again on Sunday was definitely NOT fun, though. Hopefully, our friends will send us some photos that I can post – I forgot to take some.

I was freaking out a bit too much about the cost of everything while we were there. Our friends picked out the place, and we didn’t know how much it cost until I asked how much we owed them. I almost swallowed my tongue when they told me. Add in the cost of the lift tickets, and suddenly, Todd and I had spent a LOT of money on just 2 days.

But, I’ve been listening to a great CD in my car, called The Power of Self-Coaching by Dr. Joseph J. Luciani, and the author just happened to be talking on my Monday morning commute about how worrying so much about things is really a self-defeating form of control. If we dream up every awful potential outcome possible, we won't be taken off guard when the worst occurs - we'll be prepared, and we retain control. The obsessive need to be prepared for every awful outcome stems from our inability to TRUST that we’re capable of figuring out an acceptable solution WHEN the time comes.

My need to have such tight-reined control over money is a glaring street sign that I still don’t trust my ability to take care of myself financially or to handle financial challenges.

Yikes.

I also realized how I was choosing to obsess over the money rather than be grateful that 1) I really CAN afford to splurge once in awhile, and 2) I had this wonderful opportunity to do something that I love with people that I love. For goodness’ sake, I ACTUALLY CRIED after finishing my first run on Saturday morning. I was just so moved by how amazingly wonderful it felt to ski on a beautiful morning on perfect snow in such a beautiful place as Mammoth mountain! Why the hell couldn’t I stop thinking about the cost of it all?

The Power of Self-Coaching had the answer: I’ve still got some very bad habits around control and money. I’ve made huge strides in acknowledging when I’m frightened but pushing through it anyway (my job search is a great example), but money is definitely a sticky issue with me. I rationalize my worry by arguing that I’m all I’ve got in the world. If I get into trouble, there is no one there to bail me out. I’m not worried about the here and now so much since I have friends and Todd and the skills and ability to go out and make more money. But, what about when I’m old? I don’t have family, and I don’t plan to create any by having children. I do plan on being completely alone at some point when I’m very old, and that’s ok with me. But, it is totally crappy and unhealthy to be worrying about “what if” I’m broke and alone and kicked out into the street when I’m 85 years old?! I’m planning and saving for my old age as best I can now, and who is to say that I won’t get hit by a truck tomorrow? I’ve wasted so much of my youth and life worrying about something that may never even come close to happening – particularly considering how much effort I’m putting into SAVING for my old age!

I highly recommend the book or CD to you. The author talks a lot about all this “what if’ing” that really screws with our heads. He is VERY wordy, and he gets a VERY slow start. But, there’s a lot of great stuff in there if you’re patient. It’s all very similar to the approach my coach used with me in recovery. The key is hyper-awareness of what you’re doing to yourself, when you start doing it, and how to stop it.

Check out the author’s “blog” posts right in the Amazon.com book write up. He writes:

“Self-Coaching reduces all conflict (especially anxiety, panic, and depression) to two words: insecurity and control. By understanding how, because of reflexive habits of insecurity, you’ve gravitated toward a life of control (i.e., worrying, rumination, perfectionism, compulsion, etc.) you are in a position to begin seeing exactly what can be done to eliminate psychological friction from your life. The key to psychological well-being is learning what you’re doing that feeds the reflexive habits of insecurity (i.e., worry, doubts, fears, and negatives) and what you can do to starve these habits.”

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