It’s a really touchy subject – especially for women.
So many clients get on the phone with me the first time and say “I just want to have a greater sense of control in my life”.
Whoa nelly. Unfortunately, that’s not really possible. In fact, control is a myth.
It’s a common desire – for more control. To be able to control other people. To control our circumstances. To control the way our life rolls out. To control every ebb and flow, twist and turn.
I’ve been there myself. I fall into that trap. But each and every time I have to remind myself….
It’s just not possible to have total control.
Now, before you go outside and gather stones to throw at me – let’s talk this out.
When we desire more control in our life it’s because things are feeling chaotic. Things feel out of hand. We don’t know where things are going or how we’re going to get there. We think that the only way things will work out for us is to clamp down and try to control the person or event.
But you can’t control other people. And you can’t control everything that happens to you.
When we desire more control in our lives we’re essentially subscribing to the belief that we should be able to control others, control their actions, control the way they treat us, control their feelings, control the seasons, control the weather, control our boss, control gas prices. You name it, we think we should be able to control it.
But by thinking that we can control these things we back ourselves into a corner of fear and frustration. We get angry that things aren’t aligning the way that we think that they “should”. We get irritated that other people aren’t doing what we think that they “should”. We get afraid because “things just shouldn’t be this way”.
That’s a whole lot of useless “shoulding” going on.
Whenever you ask yourself “why me!?” – you’re on the wrong track. Because anything can happen to any one of us at any time.
“Why me!?” is always the wrong question. The right question? “What can I do now.”
The first and foremost thing you can do is accept your situation. I often talk about the difference between suffering and pain. Pain is when we acknowledge that something sucks. “Oh shit, my house burned down” and then you get on doing what needs to get done to get your life back together.
Suffering, on the other hand, is all about driving that wedge of “why me!?” deeper into our thinking. It’s victim thinking. It’s the kind of thinking that makes you think you SHOULD have been able to control the circumstances, the other person, etc. And whenever you slide into that way of thinking you’re trapping yourself in a dark pit of ugly crappola. And I don’t want you having to deal with that shit.
Whatever the shit is that you’re dealing with is hard enough WITHOUT the energy of regret, worry, guilt, shame, and suffering.
Because although we can’t control the situation or the other person. We CAN control ourselves and our reactions to it.
So you can choose to suffer and strangle your life with “why me’s!!” or you can choose to accept what’s going on and focus on what you can do or what’s working in your life.
This is connected with the Buddhist concept of non-attachment. When we accept that “It is what it is until it’s something different”. We recognize that we don’t have a stranglehold of attachment to a certain outcome. We drop the expectations of things being a certain way. And instead will cope with any twists and turns as they come. And we become much happier and satisfied because of it.
“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.”
– Michael J. Fox
I used to hate Roller Coasters
When was the last time you were on a rollercoaster? I remember hating them when I was a kid. They terrified me.
Because I couldn’t control them. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what the next turn would do or which way it would flip or flop.
But I grew up to love rollercoasters.
I let go of trying to control and anticipate what was going to come next and I just enjoyed the ride. I enjoyed the serendipity and surprise of not knowing what was around the next corner. I relaxed into the experience rather than gripping hold and clenching on for dear life. It was the clamping down that made the roller coaster so terrifying. When I let go and just took the experience as it came – it became fun and exhilarating!
And that’s what letting go of control is all about – it’s about enjoying the ride rather than trying to grip tight and clamp down.
Ultimately, the process I’m talking about, and the topic of this week’s podcast, is about FLOW. When we’re in flow we’re not trying to control other people or our circumstances. We’re just taking the actions that feel right. We’re moving with the rhythm of our lives rather than trying to make them something specific.
It’s like the difference of fighting the waves and learning to surf. When you fight the waves thinking that your desire for control will tame them and that you can fight them – you’ll surely drown. But when you accept that you can’t fully anticipate the surf, but you can learn to flow with it and surf atop the waves, then you get to enjoy the unpredictability of your situation.
“‘Never Have Your Dog Stuffed’ is really advice to myself, a reminder to myself not to avoid change or uncertainty, but to go with it, to surf into change.”
– Alan Alda
It’s all about perspective – are you ready to shift yours?
When I find myself struggling with a desire for more control in my life I turn inward and really slow down.
I connect with how I’m feeling. And I allow those feelings of fear to rise to the surface. And then I focus on accepting my situation. And I let go of the expectations that I had. And then I just focus on doing what I CAN do to make the situation as easy as possible. Perhaps that’s keeping myself busy. Or maybe it’s being grateful for what’s going right. Maybe it’s letting out a scream of a sob. Maybe it’s digging deep and sifting through the old shit that keeps bringing control to the surface. Or learning new habits so that I stop “shoulding” myself to death.
At the end of the day it’s about shifting your circumstances toward trust.
Trust that you can handle whatever happens to you. Trust that you are SO fucking capable and able to deal with even the most out of control situations. Because the desire for control is a lack of trust. A lack of trust in ourselves, in the universe, and in our own ability to handle shit and overcome even when things are super shitty piles o’ poop.
Because, sometimes things are super shitty piles o’poop.
But they won’t always be that way. I promise you that. As long as you can return to that base knowledge that you can trust yourself. And that everything has divine timing. And that you’re in exactly the right place at the right time – then you’ll be able to TRUST that everything will be okay. Even when you can’t control it.
If you’re ready to shift your perspective I encourage you to check out the Emergent Life Academy!!
A program all about learning to accept yourself and trust that you can handle whatever life throws you. To teach you the skills to get over all of the limiting beliefs that have gotten in your way. And to emerge into the extraordinary woman you are your core 🙂