So I’m going to start this article off with a confession. I’m a control freak. I’ve spent the vast majority of my life shamelessly trying to control outcomes and sometimes even people. I’ve even gone so far as to push against the passage of time, not so desirable weather conditions and even New York City traffic. Crazy, right?
This is something I work on every day and continue to work on with my clients. Why? Because our society conditions us to believe that in order to be successful at life, we must have a firm hold on the “steering wheel” at all times. Yes, a car analogy. Think of the car as your life and the steering wheel as your attempt to control it. If we’re not trying to feverishly manipulate, steer, force and push every facet of our existence, we’re somehow failing at life. This leads to stress, unhappiness and discontent as we try and fail to create perfection around our bodies, careers, relationships and successes. (News flash – perfectionism is a form of control.)
For me, control has showed up recently in the form of a particularly difficult and reoccurring circumstance in my life that I can’t do anything about. I am completely and utterly at the mercy of others in this scary situation and I have no recourse but to see it through, no matter how long it takes. And as difficult as it is to do, my job here is to trust that the universe (God, a higher power, Yoda, whomever you choose) has got my back. I need to accept that this situation is being presented to me so that I can learn from it and that it will conclude exactly how and when it’s meant to. I’m getting better, but it’s still a work in process.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you don’t have influence over your life’s trajectory. Even the universe can use assistance from time to time. We can set intentions and move in the way of our dreams by making thoughtful choices. So if you’re not happy with your current job, you can always look for a new one. You can identify and apply for a new job that will offer you more meaning. You can prepare for the job interview by doing research on the company, dressing professionally, showing up on time and answering every question with your best possible answer. That much you do have influence over. But once the interview is over, you have no control over whether or not they’ll hire you.
Again, it’s your job to recognize you’ve done all you can to influence the situation and now you’ll have to trust that the universe (Buddha, Jesus, Cher, whomever you choose) has got your back and will lead you to the best possible outcome. What’s meant to be, will be. Your job is to simply trust and let go of your attempts at trying to grab, and feverishly steer, the wheel. I know, easier said than done. But understand this type of surrender can lead to a greater sense of calm and happiness if we simply show up to our lives and trust that we’ll be guided into the exact situations, relationships and outcomes we’re meant to.
Sure, not having complete control over our lives sucks. It would be great if we could avoid traffic, catching a cold and embarrassing ourselves at social functions. We’d love to have the ability to avoid challenges and simply drive on “easy street”. But that’s not how life is and not how you should want it to be. We learn from our challenges. They are opportunities for growth and our jobs are simply to be open to their teachings. Life may not always turn out the way we want it to be, but it always turns out exactly as it’s supposed to. And when “bad things” happen, it’s our job to identify the lesson being presented and remember that these things are temporary and will pass soon enough.
So what things are you trying to control in your life? How do these attempts at control negatively impact your life?
KEEP MOVING FORWARD!
As always, my goal is to give my readers something useful, tangible and worth their time, so if you don’t like something you read here, leave it, and only take away what works for you.