Learning to balance and compromise and find a happy medium are great skills to have. I think some people have these skills intuitively – they can see benefits and positives and negatives and instinctively find the middle ground where all the needs are met to some degree and progress is being made. The joy of moderation and understanding how to achieve that balance in life – what a great skill to possess.
Unfortunately, I am not one of the people who naturally possess it. Why does the “gazelle intensity” and single-minded debt reducing focus of methods like Ramsey’s instinctively appeal to me? Because compromise is not my strong suit. I’ll never be a high-level negotiator. I set sights, and then I trod heavily towards them, knocking down everything in my way. The finesse of compromise and the joy of moderation doesn’t come naturally to me at all.
This ability to single-mindedly focus is good in some ways of course, especially in the short term, but it can completely sabotage itself in the long term if there isn’t any compromise at all involved. But why am I afraid of compromise? Because I fear that once I give a little bit, I’ll end up giving a lot and somehow we’ll just end up at best treading water, and at worst, back where we started.
I’m finding it hard to wiggle. Or even contemplate the actual idea of wiggling.
When my spouse read the wiggle post, he, as I knew he would, got pretty excited about the idea of having a little wiggle room. He has been beyond patient with me and my debt-reducing schemes, and although he is invested and supportive and on-board with the debt reduction, he also has wanted a little more room to breathe. He hasn’t complained, but I know him, and I know he has. So when he read that post, he started suggesting a few (very reasonable) things we might add to our budget to give us both some enjoyment and reward for hard work. Things like him trying the new low-fat turkey bacon sandwich at work (developed in fact for his weight management class). Or even me bringing the kids to his work at lunch someday soon and us all having lunch in ther cafeteria. I used to bring the kids to work to visit for lunch once every month or two, and I haven’t in a long time.
Yet I started freaking out and basically said “We need to talk about this before we go all crazy and start spending money willy nilly!” My immediate response is panic and feeling out of control. My moderation button doesn’t yet exist, I’m afraid.
The thing is, we’re trying to make life changes here. Changing habits for life. Doing that in a black and white manner isn’t going to help us in the long term, because we’re not learning the skills necessary to survive out of debt-reduction mode and apply it for the rest of our lives. I know that, intellectually. But still I keep having freak out panic attacks that giving a little is going to derail our whole plan.
My brain is a complex and scary place – I don’t know why I gravitate towards such extremes, and yet I do. Or maybe it is that my brain is not a complex enough place. Hopefully I can teach it to see in more shades of gray financially rather than strictly black and white. Gray’s going to be how we manage from the here and now until the rest of life happens, so I might as well learn to deal with it sooner rather than later. Neither extreme will serve us well for the long term, and as much as intellectually I can say that, emotionally I still need to accept it.