Auteursrecht: svetazi / 123RF Stockfoto
The day I write this Inspiration – Sunday 20 November – is a stormy autumn day. I’m driving to Ghent in the early morning, the radio is on and I listen to several messages about the fire department and civil protection services working to clear fallen trees, broken branches, collapsed scaffolding and cranes.
My car is pushed from left to right by strong gusts of wind and at a given point I start feeling scared. I suddenly realise that at any moment something terrible may happen over which I do not and can not have any control whatsoever (maybe I should have stayed safely in bed?). The elements of nature make me feel vulnerable and unsafe – distinctly unpleasant emotions.
We want to have control so badly because it makes us feel safe and secure – or so we think. When we try to control something or someone, we think nothing can happen that we do not like or want. We also want to know what will happen, we want to control the future and make sure we have covered everything – so we do not have to worry about anything. We even go so far as devising a plan B for when things would not go as planned. Or we stop doing anything, stop taking any decisions or making any choices, for fear it might be the wrong ones. Then at least we are sure nothing can go wrong.
But do we ever really have control over our lives, over others or a situation? I believe it is an illusion that makes us unfree and unhappy. Does that mean you cannot think about the future or have to live very zen-like in the moment and not make any plans? That’s where the misconception lies: there is nothing wrong with thinking about the future, it only becomes problematic when you try to control it. It is all about taking action with an open mind – taking action to make things happen or initiate processes and then keep an open mind for the results.
When we count on control to make ourselves feel good and happy, we will definitely fail. The only thing a relentless urge for control guarantees is a life full of frustration and disappointment.
So how do you stop wanting to control everything?
- Reflect on your convictions about control. Why is it that important to you?
- Ask yourself the question: what do I get out of it?
- Answer honestly whether control truly gives you what you think it does.
- Is it possible for you to accept that actual control probably does not exist?
- The next time you feel the urge to control something or someone, try to let go and see what happens – or doesn’t.
- Go a step further and look for opportunities when unforseeable things just pop-up. How can you see them as something positive that you can use?
If you have any questions or thoughts about this, let me know. Or do you realise that a desire for control is invading your life, making you unhappy and you want to take action? Contact me for a free sample session.