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You Are Not in Control Staying indoors all the time furthers the illusion that we can control our environment and minimize, or maybe even eliminate, risk. As Frank Merritt told me when we were brainstorming for this article, If I'm cold, I'll turn the heat up; Such convenience sure is, well, convenient, but it's also reinforcing our need to micromanage every aspect of our world and perpetuating our ability to do so. Helicopter parents are doing the same in trying to create these adversity-free, perfect little worlds to cocoon their kids in. Then that child grows into an adult who loses it when she has a wrinkle in her shirt and throws a tantrum at Starbucks when her latte is the wrong temperature, Frank said. If we're monitoring our bodies round the clock, then we think we have our well-being within our grasp. But if this is true, why are there chronically obese people walking around with wearables? Finally, this journal tackles the implications for the workplace: Flawed self-assessments arise all the way up the corporate ladder. Employees tend to overestimate their skill, making it difficult to give meaningful feedback. CEOs also display overconfidence in their judgments, particularly when stepping into new markets or novel projects. The researchers summed up their conclusions by using a witty quote from one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin: There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one's self. I guess this means we're not as good as we think we are. I don't know, I have to believe most people are good, right? Let's break this down further with some hypotheticals. Let's say you're walking down the streets of a big city, Detroit, for example. A few years back my husband quit drinking and began attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. He kept going to meetings right through this sexual acting out, and our separation, etc I have now been in Al-Anon for the past five years.

As crazy as I felt, the teachings of Al-Anon were helpful; Because of her experience with Al-Anon, Sara is a woman with a solid understanding of addiction, which makes it easier for her to accept her husband's sexual acting out as an addiction. But while she is living in the throes of deceit, not wanting another failed marriage, trying to raise kids, she finds herself in a state of reaction versus action. With the acknowledgment of her husband's behavior being sex addiction, she draws on her Al-Anon experience and feels hope as she believes in the process of recovery that comes with honesty. Yet, she also knows she needs more than Al-Anon to help her address the impact of ongoing sexual betrayal. With that history, she moves forward with her life. Through the ensuing months, there spilled out the rest of the confessions about money spent on one of my husband's victims, friends he had sex with, other sordid details that I had frankly conveniently forgotten. But I do remember the pain of how we struggled. Fortunately, there is something that offers a reality check and exposes this ubercontrol mentality for the lie that it is: nature. No matter how competent and able to shape events we think we are, being outside in an untamed environment reminds us of our insignificance and powerlessness. Laird Hamilton has said that we're all equal before the wave. If this is the perspective of the world's greatest waterman, how much can the rest of us learn about humility and our inability to bend nature to our will by being out in the water? Or by sitting on top of a mountain peak and watching the sun set above fields of mist? As Lenny Wiersma asked me rhetorically when I was writing this article, How many pictures of a sunset have been better than any sunset you've actually stood there and experienced? If you want to deal with your control issues, commit to doing something once a week that involves being in a situation that's outside your control. Learn to overcome your frustration, to move more freely, and to be open to more possibilities than you could ever imagine when stuck in a gym. You'll find that you can think more creatively and improve your problem-solving skills, as well as spike your awareness. Scare Yourself Today You've just spent a couple hours at the Art Institute of Detroit, enthralled by the massive canvases and archaeological preservations. Many of these items are several hundred years old and you now feel more intelligent and superior after visiting an art museum.

After the art history museum, you take a Lyft downtown for a great meal. While you walk along the street enroute to the restaurant, a little kid is trying to present you a toy. The kid wants you to pay $10 for a trinket that funds some organization. The kid is also super cute. A Room in the Art Institute of Detroit Do you give the kid $10 for the trinket? What if it was a beggar? A scruffy, old guy who hasn't showered in a month and there's a stench reeking from their presence. I got angrier and angrier. I can remember early in my husband's recovery when he was becoming honest with me and I thought, I don't know that I can stand the pain. Between the breast cancer and the hurt of my husband's sexual acting out, it felt like I was sinking into a big black hole. It was at this time my therapist saved my life by saying, You can either get revenge by continuing to yell and threaten; That simple piece of advice has given me my life back. The work has been painful, exhausting, and sometimes embarrassing, but I have me, I have a life of which I am proud, and I have the integrity I always wanted. We went to conferences, therapy, recovery meetings, therapeutic weekends, and on and on. I expected absolute immediate recovery on both our parts. That did not happen. But what did happen was that I found me. We can go through life trying to avoid being scared because society has taught us that fear is negative. But there's something elemental about feeling afraid that isn't all bad.

Think about the thrill you got the last time you watched The Shining or another horror film, or even a tense drama that provided a few well-timed jump-out-of-your-seat moments. When we confront something that makes us afraid, it forces us to overcome our preconceptions and wrestle with reality in its starkest form. You also have to control your initial reaction--often fight-or-flight--and problem-solve on the fly to find the best way to deal with the situation in the moment. You don't need to swim with sharks or climb Everest to reap the benefits of being scared. Just being outside in an unfamiliar, uncontrollable situation once in a while will help you master your worries and redefine what you think you're capable of. We supposedly live in the Age of Fear because of our sensationalist press and the hyperbole of social media, but the fears these create and exaggerate in our living rooms--of superbugs, severe weather, politicians who are out to destroy our way of life, and so forth--are not the fears that we need to recognize, embrace, and reckon with when we're out in nature. We need to start minimizing our exposure to the former to overcome the effects of chronic stress and increasing the frequency with which we seek out the latter, because of the lessons that kind of fear teaches us about ourselves, our emotions, and how we can better interact with our living world. Fear is one of our most primal emotions, and our responses to it are governed by what's known as our old brain, the part that governs survival instincts and was the first to develop. He's got a sign that says he's a veteran who needs money. Do you give him money? Here's another scenario: You scroll through Facearticle on a normal weekday. As you swipe through the various posts, you notice that your friend has suffered a recent injury. In order to raise the necessary money to pay off a surgery, he creates a GoFundMe article. You see the Facearticle post, you see his injury (it's not pretty) and you remember him being a decent dude. Do you give him some money? In any of these hypotheticals, you could've said, Yes. Personally, I've given money to a beggar or two on the street. I've given money to a kid in Detroit. I began to live what I have always wanted: an honest life. We were separated for nearly a year, and during this time I realized that since we had lived so long in the disease and we were both actively pursuing recovery, we might try doing that together.

It has not all been uphill; I lapse into hypervigilance when feeling insecure, and we struggle yet with our sex life. In general we both want our marriage to be better, and we work on it both individually and together. As you have just read, after two divorces Sara thought she had met Mr Wonderful, her soul mate. He was charming, fun, good-looking, and a great provider, and he embraced her children. With the information her husband shared with her on their honeymoon, she didn't know how to cope with what she perceived would be another failed relationship. Wanting to trust herself, she sought out counseling but was frequently told to give her husband the benefit of the doubt. During much of their marriage, her insides were screaming at the subtle and the blatant behaviors. We engage the fight, flight, or freeze mechanism superficially with the stress we create in our frantic lifestyles, but rarely do we put ourselves in scenarios in which we're exposed to something primal and are forced to moderate our reaction to it. Nor do we seek out activities in which we have to channel all our resources into just making it through. To me, doing so is a part of being fully alive. Kai Lenny agrees: Exposing yourself to one scare a day is a good thing. It keeps you on your toes, keeps you humble, and keeps your mind open. Put anyone in nature and they go from the top of the food chain to the bottom of it instantly. We've become too elite for nature in our own heads, and that breeds overconfidence that can be self-destructive. Every time you go in the water it teaches you humility, and that's how you survive. Stayin' Alive One reason that nature is so restorative is that it forces us to stop worrying about our self-created, first-world problems and our self-actualization wants, and returns our attention to basic survival needs. I might do it again. That validates me as a good person, right?