“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” John Steinbeck
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We all struggle to maintain some sense of control over our lives. Some of us attempt this by orchestrating the behavior and activities of our children. Some of us are unhealthy because allowing ourselves that next treat or extra helping is the one thing we feel we can control in our lives. Others of us create rigid, judgmental boundaries defining acceptable behavior – meting out judgment on those who do not reach our lofty standards fills us with a sense of justice and control.
And why not strive for a life in which I am the power broker? Whenever I try to control people or things or circumstances, I do it because I believe that my life will be better if it is predictable, on schedule, and under my control.
But there’s this funny thing about control. It tightens up my life. It’s like a wounded muscle, cramping in on itself to prevent further damage. The more I try to control the people and circumstances around me, the tighter my fist becomes.
This is one of life’s great deceptions. We believe that having more control will lead to greater predictability, which we believe will lead to greater happiness. But the exact opposite is actually the case. In the areas of my life where I have been able to relinquish this desperate desire for control, freedom has crept in. Freedom from judgment. Freedom from worry. Freedom from fear.
And then I realized – this constant striving for control, it was actually controlling me.
What the heck am I talking about? It’s this journey my family and I are on. When I try to control it, I get stomach pains and can’t think straight. When I take it as it comes, allow some flexibility to reside in my mind, the whole thing’s much more enjoyable.
What areas of your life (or someone else’s) are you trying to control, to your detriment? Have you ever been able to relinquish control over something? How did it feel?