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The Financial Whisperer® Newsletter: True Control Vs. Being Controlling

The Financial Whisperer®

Start Untangling Your Emotions From Your $$$

Several weeks ago, I took the train from New York to Washington, D.C.

It was a crowded morning as I sat next to the window pecking away at my laptop on a newsletter.  I use a large font, and the woman next to me periodically glanced in my direction, reading what I was writing.  This happens a lot.

Finally, she could not contain herself any longer. She apologized immediately for reading over my shoulder but could not resist asking my opinion; she had had a running battle with her mother her entire life.  She was 42, and her mother still treated her as if she were ten years old and lacked her own judgment, especially when it came to her eight-year-old daughter.  I will call her 'Wendy.'

Wendy was very agitated that, just that morning, her mother queried her whether she had left lights on in the house, knowing that when she got home, it would be dark and empty. Wendy's response was: "Mom, I am not ten anymore, stop treating me like a child."  Her Mom's response was: "Well, darling, I am only concerned for you, don't jump down my throat for caring."

Sound familiar?

Then Wendy continued that she then felt guilty for being angry at her mother, frustrated, trapped and never clear as to how to mange those moments. A universal complaint.

This is really about several things that intersect to create confusion and frustration that always left Wendy feeling as if she were in no-win situation; trapped.

The result was that Wendy felt a deep, unspoken feeling of never really being seen by her mother; it had left her with a silent yearning that has propelled her into toxic relationships that were becoming increasingly uncomfortable.  Wendy knew something was amiss but had not been able to articulate it.

A smaller piece was the manipulative response from her mother, who connected caring with her need to control her daughter to suit herself, which then triggered guilt in Wendy.  As we talked further, it was apparent that her mother's needs always superseded her own, and Wendy's instincts and feelings were always defined by her mom; "No, sweetie, don't be angry, you'll get permanent wrinkles."

Wendy's mom could have simply said, "Do you get nervous coming home to a dark house?" And Wendy would not have felt that her mother was encroaching.

And to further complicate their interactions, Wendy was always left with the question that she felt but could not put into words: "What is love? Will anyone ever see me for me?"

Remember that children smell and feel before they have language; they perceive and experience before they can create a sentence. Their instincts are becoming confirmed every day, for better or worse. Their sense of self is either celebrated or sabotaged. Their early lives are very polarized, black or white. They lack the sophistication that accompanies growth; at five years old, they are much more autonomous and independent than when they are three years old. And by the time they are eight, they are very, very smart.

True control is an internal state of being and usually results from tolerance, compassion and acceptance of oneself. Those mindsets enable one to see clearly the boundaries between their needs and the needs of those around them.

If Wendy's mother had supported her being a separate person from herself and her own needs, the conversation about the lights would never have happened.