Do you like to control things? No? Really think about the question in all areas of your life… work, relationships, food, family, schedule, organizations. For most of us I bet we can find at least one, if not more, areas of our lives where we feel a great desire to control. This doesn’t mean we’re crazy control freaks… we just know how we want things to turn out… right?
Control is a really interesting topic because controlling certain aspects of our lives can result in great outcomes. For example, if we choose to eat a certain diet and control what we put into our bodies, we may be healthier and feel better. When we see a person get back in shape by learning to control his diet, we offer congratulations.
Let’s look at the other side of control… the side that drives us nuts… when someone’s trying to control us, or, even worse, when we’re trying to control and others are trying to control, and we all want different outcomes. We all know how that story ends!
How do you feel when you are trying to control a situation? How much energy do you put into planning your strategy? Are you open to other outcomes or different paths that may emerge?
Over the years I’ve gone in phases where I’ve tried to control everything and everyone. I quickly was humbled and realized that controlling everything and everyone wouldn’t work. I let go of some control but definitely hung on to control in some areas of my life.
Recently I was in the midst of a workout and noticed that I was really tense. I couldn’t understand why I was tense… I was having a great day, the weather was good, I didn’t have anything too stressful in my schedule. What was causing the tension? I stopped my workout and thought about what was reeling through my mind and what I was spending my energy on.
• What I planned to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the total calorie count
• A family situation that irritated me and my strategy for getting my way
• Three days from now when I have a meeting at an inconvenient time
Yep, kind of embarrassing. I wasn’t using my workout time to remove tension, get excited for the day, or think of new awesome ideas… I was using my workout time to strategize how I’d control all kinds of little intricate details of my life!
Then it dawned on me.
• Instead of counting calories, what if I just listen to my body and eat foods and portions that make me feel good?
• What if I let the family situation play out without meddling?
• Maybe if I accept the inconvenient time of the meeting I’ll be forced out of my comfortable schedule and it will shake things up in a good way!
Here’s the huge bonus… if I quit spending a bunch of energy trying to control life I’ll have a bunch more energy to be creative and will be better able to get in the flow and follow my intuition! At that moment I felt this huge surge of relief. I don’t have to control everything! I am free!
Let’s go back to the example of the guy getting back in shape by controlling his diet… so many of us are perpetually trying to find the right diet. Sometimes we find one and it’s great but then we fall off the wagon. As a lifelong dieter, I can tell you that strict regiments are no way of life for most of us. My relationship with food is ever evolving, but I know for sure that when I allow myself to enjoy food in moderation and listen to my body I have the best results, even if I’m eating more calories sometimes…
Now every time I start plotting for control over something (the urge remains), I stop and remind myself that though I may think I know best, I’m really just robbing myself of energy and seeing amazing and unexpected paths forward. I can feel tension lift immediately.
So, what are you trying to control now? What if you let go? What if you get in the flow? Experiment with this a bit and see what happens. I bet you’ll feel a new freedom and excitement with life!