Who are you controlling these days?
Being in control is a key survival skill and a big step to self-leadership. Learning to take charge of how you use your body and mind to be a blessing in the world is important for building a more brave and loving place for us all.
Being controlling, however, is what happens when people reach beyond their own boundaries and into the lives of others. Many people do this with the belief that they are helping.
Some parents still try to force their grown children to behave in ways that they find acceptable. Some partners wish to control the behavior of their significant other.
Those who exert too much control see that in one or more areas of their life, they feel the need to interfere with what is happening rather than allowing events to unfold.
Almost everyone has at least one situation in which they try to exert control. I personally struggle with it daily, especially with the people I love most.
If someone else's actions are hurting them, in my opinion, I want them to change. I can get anxious and helpless when they don't. Sometimes, especially with close friends or relatives, I'm afraid this other person will make me look bad or embarrass me, and I can get pretty uncomfortable.
I've become aware that the desire to control someone else's behavior generally goes hand in hand with two things: One, I'm afraid to be direct about what I truly want. Two, I'm afraid to let go and allow others to live the consequences of their behavior. When I'm wanting to control people, it's often because I feel scared and start feeling out of control myself.
So, I've been practicing the art of doing nothing. I choose something each day that I can allow to unfold without any control on my part. I examine how it feels before and after, and my own motivations in wanting to control the situation. I let myself get in touch with the anxiety, the thought patterns, the relief of letting go, the wobbling between trust and panic.
Two family members aren't getting along? What happens if I leave it to them to figure it out? (Ooooooh, so cringy.) Does a friend make a choice that I for sure wouldn't make? What happens if I wait to see if they want any advice? (Yuck. Feels so wrong because I know what's best for them.)
If we are to be respectful and truly loving, we do let people go, trusting that they will find their own way in their own time and understanding that it is their life to live. And that can take time.
So what can be done? I can control myself. I can be very clear about my values, about what's OK and what's not OK, about what I will and won't choose. I can love people, even when they are doing the wrong thing (according to my own judgments). I can remind myself that the only body, thoughts, emotions, beliefs that I can change are mine.
What about you? Who are you wishing would be different? How can you shift your focus back to your choices, your values, your boundaries, your generous assumptions about others?
With great love,
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