The winter air was crisp. The stream flowed down the valley, swelling in places, making a gushing sound. There were patches of grass exposed in the mud and snow. Archie was on a walk with his guardian. He held his favourite tug of war toy between his jaw. When his guardian had found a place to stop for a rest, they began playing a mixture of tug and fetch. When his guardian had tugged it off his jaw, he would throw it for Archie to fetch and the game would repeat. After they have played several rounds, his guardian, unfortunately, made the throw too far and it landed in the stream, only to be rapidly washed away into the valley. It was unretrievable.
Archie ran as far as he could beside the stream and watched his favourite toy floating away, bobbing up and down as though mocking him, “You cannot catch me!” He barked at it but to no avail. It was gone. His guardian desperately tried to reach for it but it was in vain. Archie looked forlorn. They continued their walk and after a few minutes, Archie was prancing happily again, racing around his guardian and in the field they had reached. He could not control the events that took place, the stream washing away his toy but he could control what he did and felt after.
In your life, how much control do you have? One of the basic human needs is certainty and to fulfil that need, many have sought to control as much of their lives as possible. For example, they attempt to control the outcome of relationships, business, what others’ think and events. A lot of energy is spent on thinking about what to say, contemplating how to act and what to do. They try to manipulate situations, creating the best outcome they imagined and desire. Can you relate?
In relationships, they try to control the outcome by revealing or limiting the amount of information given to the other party. Predictions are made and assumptions are projected. If I tell him this, he will feel this way about me. This is relevant to both personal and work relationships. In business, protocols and directives are laid down to control the outcome of your products, services and results your customers receive. An environment is created in the hope to control the productivity of the employees. Similarly, at home, parents attempt to create conducive surroundings to ensure the safety and stimulate the growth of their children. Does this sound familiar?
When things go out of control, how do you react? Some may start blaming others whereas others may start berating themselves. Some may try harder to regain control and composure and others may just accept their fate, falling into victimhood. Feelings of anger, denial, self-pity, indignance and helplessness are common. How do you react?
Have you met someone who is very controlling whether in business or personal lives? Where everything must be done in a particular way and certain things will always have a certain meaning with no room for further interpretation? If you do this, it means that you are that and nothing more. The degree of flexibility is small and tolerance for deviation is absent. Do you know someone like that?
Let’s not mistake having control as a completely bad thing. There are some things in life that do deserve our attention to be meticulously in producing a predictable outcome. We cannot live in random events daily without consequence or care. That would be absolute chaos. We still must maintain (and continually raise) our standards to live a better life, becoming the better (or best) version of ourselves. However, care must be taken not to mistake being our best selves to the illusion of controlling outcomes and events around us.
When you have delved and studied the idea of control, you may hit the fundamental conclusion. Which is that you have absolutely no control over things at all. You cannot control how others feel over time, how they change or not change. You cannot control events that take place like a pandemic or unexpected personal health circumstances. You also cannot control what goes on in others’ lives and how their lives are impacted by that. Nor can you control the ebbs and flows of the market and what is trending in the future. Yes, you may predict (and sometimes you are right!) but not control. Just like how you cannot control someone to feel the same about you despite the way you feel about them. It is certainly not a “quid pro quo” situation where you feel you are deserving of certain things because you have given them yourself! These things are out of your control.
However, the things that you can control with absolution would be your feelings, your thoughts, the words you use and the action you take. When things happen, you may not be able to help your reaction (we are only human with a multitude of feelings and some reactions are automatic!), but you can choose how you want to interpret and evaluate that particular situation. Any event can be interpreted in multiple ways. Some ways are more empowering than others. Feelings as mentioned above like anger, denial, self-pity, indignance, and helplessness can be converted (or even replaced) to a sense of ease, acceptance, empowerment, gratitude, and inspiration. The thoughts you choose can be empowering like having faith that life is happening for you, not to you and everyone is doing the best they can do (with the best intentions) according to their personal level of growth and understanding of life. No one is trying to get you even though it may seem that way.
Use words that free your inner goodness and not hide your sovereign soul. These words that you say to others and yourself can either lift you up to see the beauty or dampen you with the harshness of life. Your personal actions from this day on can change your destiny. The habits you adopt or discard will form how you perform your daily undertakings and shape your future slowly, day by day, one step at a time. Amidst the unpredictable nature of life around you, these four things (your thoughts, your feelings, your words and actions) are without a doubt, absolutely under your control. Are you able to exert them with the same amount of energy and commitment you have been exerting control over the things you are not able to control?
Archie has relinquished control over his toy being washed away and chose to play happily. What part of your life do you need to let go to regain control of yourself again?
“The need for control always comes from someone that has lost it”. – Shannon L Alder