Ski? Not Me! Giving the Cold Shoulder to the ‘Shoulds’

Skis and ski poles standing up in snowI don’t ski. I abhor the cold. I don’t like putting on all that uncomfortable gear and have no need for speed. I simply don’t find skiing to be fun.

My family likes to ski. My youngest LOVES it and skis double black diamond trails with ease.

So I agree to accompany my family on ski trips. I’m perfectly happy hanging out in the lodge or in the room reading books I’d otherwise never make the time to read. I go for a massage. I work out in the gym. I go to dinner with my family and enjoy listening to stories of their snowy escapades.

However, on our most recent trip, on our last morning at the mountain, an over-eager ski instructor spied me drinking my coffee and reading my book. He sat down next to me, uninvited, and proceeded to tell me there was something wrong with my having chosen not to ski.

That triggered something unexpected in me. I had consciously decided not to ski. I was eager to read my book. But I suddenly found myself becoming emotional and proceeded to work hard at humoring this man who seemed to believe he knew what would be best for me and my family while not actually knowing the first thing about either.

I took a moment to consider: What was going on? What had this encounter triggered in me?

I knew this guy was simply looking to drum up business. He handed me his card and delivered his well-rehearsed pitch, containing a personal story involving an ex-girlfriend and how she overcame her fear of skiing with his incredible patience and guidance. He finally left after several minutes and my telling him I lived five hours away and wouldn’t be returning anytime soon.

I checked in with myself. This was the fourth day of our trip, and I was ready to head home and face a busy week ahead. I also wished I DID enjoy skiing. I had tried several times, only to find it frustrating and not enjoyable. The discomfort of the gear and the cold seemed to outweigh any pleasure I discovered in it. I had taken private lessons and didn’t love those, either. I’d given skiing a fair shot, and we simply weren’t made for each other.

I acknowledged there was a degree of sadness in letting go of this possibility and coming to terms with it just not being for me. The ski instructor shined a spotlight on that struggle and cast his own judgment on my decision. One could argue he was just attempting to share his love of the sport, and his services in developing that love within me, but I didn’t have to take on what he believed to be “right.” I needed to let that go and stay true to what I knew was right for me, even if that meant recognizing it wasn’t necessarily ideal.

What’s wrong with sometimes sitting on the sidelines? In my heart, nothing. In my head, I occasionally hear the “shoulds.”

What’s wrong with sometimes sitting on the sidelines? In my heart, nothing. In my head, I occasionally hear the “shoulds.”

Perhaps I should try even harder to like something I don’t.

I should want to spend the day with my family and the only way to effectively do so is on the slopes.

I should do things I really don’t enjoy for the sake of pleasing others.

If others enjoy it, I should too.

No.

I need to do the things that are satisfying to me and that bring me peace, joy, and fulfillment. Only in choosing to spend my time in this way will I be someone who is pleasant to be around. (I learned on the occasions I did ski that my frustration diminished the fun for others.) I don’t need to apologize for things I don’t enjoy or force myself to do them, as long as they are not required.

I choose with enthusiasm the things in which I DO participate. I avail myself of opportunities to explore and take part in things that might be beyond my comfort zone, and I seek out experiences that will enable me to stretch.

When I feel that momentary twinge upon having been told I’m making the “wrong” choice, as I did in that ski lodge, I do my best to let go of the judgment being thrust upon me, check in with my decision and the impact it has on me, and proceed in accordance with that, rather than what others have to say about it. That moment in the lodge was a chance for me to recommit to that process, to dismantle the “shoulds” that happened to sneak in.

© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Laurie Leinwand, MA, LPC, therapist in Denville, New Jersey

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Joan

    Joan

    March 14th, 2016 at 7:25 AM

    Laughed out loud when I saw the title of this because I ma the same way. I will go along for the trips and enjoy the scenery while warm and dry inside the lodge, but I have no desire to ski no matter how much they try to make me.

  • reeny

    reeny

    March 14th, 2016 at 10:24 AM

    I feel a whole lot of pressure to do things that other people seem to think that I should do. I have lived like that for a long time and it is starting to frustrate me. I think that for the first time I am seeing that most of my life I have lived in a way to make other people happy but never really doing the things that would make me happy instead. But it is hard to break out of that pattern of behavior when this is what you have become accustomed to doing.

  • Jack

    Jack

    March 14th, 2016 at 4:29 PM

    I really hate when I feel like I am being forced to do something just for the sake of making someone else feel better. I understand that there are always sacrifices that have to be made, but when will the time come when someone will do the things that I enjoy instead of me always having to be the one to bend and do what they want to do?

  • Laurie Leinwand

    Laurie Leinwand

    March 14th, 2016 at 5:09 PM

    In order to break a pattern of pleasing others (when you find it isn’t pleasing YOU) isn’t easy. It begins with your being clear with yourself about what you choose to do (and not do) and communicating that to others. Begin with one thing. You may encounter resistance, especially if others are used to you being so flexible, but you’ll be glad that you finally gave voice to your true thoughts and wishes. And it’s okay to ask others to join you in what you’d like to do too.

  • donna B

    donna B

    March 15th, 2016 at 10:09 AM

    Shouldn’t a part of life be about trying something new now and again? You don’t know what you will enjoy until you take some time to try new things. And then if you try it and still don’t like it, then so be it.

  • Laurie Leinwand

    Laurie Leinwand

    March 15th, 2016 at 5:58 PM

    Donna, yes, keeping life interesting, exciting and invigorating IS about trying new things, and then choosing to continue to participate in the things we like to do (not necessarily the things others like us to do). Thanks for commenting.

  • donna B

    donna B

    March 16th, 2016 at 7:55 AM

    Thanks Laurie!

  • Shelley

    Shelley

    March 19th, 2016 at 7:20 AM

    Doesn’t it feel like we spend too much time wondering what others will think if we don’t want to try something or if we just come out and admit that something is not for us? What is wrong with admitting that hey, this really doesn’t appeal to me so I think that I will pass and do something else instead? It is like they start to feel like this is some kind of reflection on them and what they enjoy, and it is not, it is simply me standing my own ground about what I do and don’t like to do.

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