After a decade of marriage, Maria and Joseph still fight over Joseph’s financial lapses. When it comes to financial management, Maria is far better than Joseph. Joseph has made many financial blunders that brought heavy losses to them. Over the years, he did improve a little bit. Again today, they are arguing as Joseph forgot to pay his credit card bills on time. Now they need to pay fines. Maria is anxious again! How can Maria let go of control and feel happier?
Control is applying excessive influence over the actions or behaviors of another person or one’s environment.
We feel safe when we think we are in control of what happens in our lives. “Being in control” encourages our egos and strengthens our confidence. But that trust takes a hit when we realize we’re not in control. We are not in control, and that scares us! Have you tried to be in control all the time? Isn’t it extremely exhausting?
Controlling tendency is, in fact, a human trait.
We always have tried to make our living conditions more suitable to us. This constant attempt to perfect what is already there usually leads to disappointments with the present moment.
We are what because of our habits. Please do not forget to read our articles on habit building here.
Why are we so scared to let go of control?
We feel safe when we are in control of situations, money, communications, workflow and environment. Probably, we have handled a situation in the past. We think we have to be in the driving seat to make everything ok.
We are comfortable when we can handle a difficult situation. When anything goes out of our control we feel frustrated, angry.
As parents, we all want to protect our children from unexpected events, and we try to control them. We think that they are incapable of handling the situations.
We desire certainty. We expect a certain outcome and spend our full energy and time to make things work out the way we want. Before we start doing an activity, we plan every aspect of it and expect a particular result. But life just happens, it is a roller coaster ride with its twists and turns. Then we feel out of control.
I am guilty of imposing myself into a series of disappointments by trying to do everything perfectly and expecting everything to be as per my plan.
We fear the unpredictable and unambiguous. We worry about our future. Even we want to know about the future so that we can have a plan ready for the worst case scenario. None of us want to fail! For some, failure is a fate worse than death.
Society doesn’t value failures. Even, history tells us only the success stories! We’re supposed to be the best all the time. We’re supposed to win all the time, and we’re not expected to show weakness.
When we do not feel good enough, we focus too much on others and their reactions.We change ourselves, our environments, and our deeds to please others.
We can even control people with the fear that they might leave us.
Frequent monitoring of partner’s social media accounts, browsing history.
Make numerous phone calls to check the partner’s whereabouts.
Not sharing the financial details with the partner and so on.
Following are some of the control issues:
- Restrict a person from talking to loved ones or friends
- Overprotective parenting
- Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
- Eating disorders
- Compulsive Exercising
- Obsessive Cleaning. Arranging
- Over-Planning and so on.
Do we have control as we think?
We all want to be in control of everything in our lives, yet from traffic to tragic events that happen for each of us that are out of our control.
Isn’t control an illusion?
It’s a waste of time pursuing it because it doesn’t exist. The control can have no place in our life.
Think of any situation in your life where you try to control something or somebody. Were you feeling anxious? Were you feeling insecure?
We try to control kids hoping to avoid the bad experiences in their lives. Do we have control over their life experiences?
Do we micromanage our team to avoid failures as we do not believe the team will do their job their own?
We think nobody else will do the work as perfectly as we do . Thus we take up all responsibilities on our shoulders and we get exhausted!
We can’t control life; we need to manage it! Click To Tweet
Every day we face challenges or prizes. And we take them on one by one. There are no secret tricks! After all, we are just mortals. We need to embrace our mortality better and get rid of the tremendous burden of trying to handle it all.
Are You a Control Freak?
Sometimes we may not even realize that we are control freaks! We might think that we are serving people with our constructive criticism or taking over a task because no one else will do it perfectly as we do.
Do you think if you do not wake your baby up every morning at a fixed time, you are a terrible mother?
Do you work your butt off to meet unrealistic expectations at work so that you get a promotion?
Instead of attempting to control the situation, we need to be more realistic and learn to tackle our irrational thinking.
Want to know if you’re a control freak?
Check out the article Are You a Type A or Type B Person?
Take this quiz to know more about your personality.
I do find it hard to handle if things did not turn out my way. (I got a score of 170 in the above quiz.)
Type A persons, normally said to be control freaks, try to do more than they can handle. They get stressed out if things did not go their way.
How can we let go of control?
1. Make a list of the things under our control
Note down the things under our control. Then, we will realize that we have control over only us, our emotions and responses.
What do we eat, read, and wear?
When do we want to get up, exercise, take breaks?
We can have control over our thoughts and reactions to situations or other’s opinions.
2. Assess our controlling tendency
To let go of control, we have to do an honest assessment of our controlling nature.
In any situation where we normally have a tendency to control ask below questions:
Why do we want to control?
Do you harm yourself in a stressful moment to take control of the situation?
Probably you feel unworthy! You can read about why you lack self-confidence here.
Do you keep all the telephone numbers of all service people with you? Do you keep all relevant documents with you? Why do you make your family depends on you for everything?
What will happen if we let go of control?
What do we fear to happen if we let go of control?
Do you fear the project will not be over within the estimated end date without your micromanagement?
By knowing the “why” behind our controlling tendency, we can address the real issue.
3. Admit our Shortcomings
Everybody has faults. Nobody in this world is perfect. We all screw-up! What’s our first reaction when we’ve messed up? Do we acknowledge our mistakes or do we pass the blame on to someone else?
Do you apologize when it’s your fault? Or do you make up a reason why you shouldn’t have to express regret?
Acknowledge our faults. It is okay to be wrong sometimes and let others be right. Click To Tweet
Only a rational human can admit when he or she is wrong. When we can apologize to others, it shows that we have class and humility.
There’s a remarkable transformation that takes place when we let ourselves to be vulnerable and admit when we’re wrong. We no longer feel the extreme pressure to be right all the time. No more intense stress to get it right!
4. Understand that there are many ways to do something
We are secure in our routine, and anything outside of that is scary! It’s easy to get lost in our daily lives where we do the same things over and over again and forget that there’s more out there. We get comfortable in doing things our way, and pretty soon we believe that the way we do things is the only way to do it.
Our perception is our reality. What we see and believe to be real is real to us.
We need to accept that others can do things differently and get a good result. When we acknowledge that others can do things in a different way and still get a positive result, it frees us up. It shows us that there’s more than one way to do something. There’s more than one way to get a positive result.
Giving up control does not mean we should not plan or improve ourselves. Having a balance makes our lives much easier.
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The Benefits we get when we let go of control
People who control focus on the future and keep planning for the future. When we let go of control, we start to concentrate on the present.
We gain patience when we let go of control. When we need to be in control, we lack patience. That is the reason we yell at waiters for delaying orders; we always want to be in the front of the queue.
When we accept that we do not need to be in control of the end to end process to accomplish anything, we feel more relaxed. We just need to move a step now and let the details unfold as it must.
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” ~Lao Tzu Click To Tweet
Coming back to Maria’s anxiety over finances.
Maria is anxious as she is worried about their future. She thinks that managing finances her way is ideal. She is criticizing to make Joseph better at finances. But the reality is that we cannot change or control others. Sometimes, we have to learn from our mistakes. By being anxious, Maria is not helping her. Maria could be a more relaxed person if she accepts the situation as it is.
In essence, when we let go of control, we free ourselves from the burden of being to be the Mr/Ms. Perfect always. We accept that only one thing is certain in this life and that is death. By allowing the unknowns in our lives, we prepare ourselves to deal with the unexpected events. When we let go of control, a new world of possibilities and perceptions opens up in front of us.
I am learning to let go of control! Are you ready to let go of control? Please do share your thoughts as comments.