The Truth About Control
Shall we say my truth on the subject matter …
When it comes to controlling things, most of us are in one of three mindsets about it. The first, we feel we have no control, the second is not enough control, and third, we feel in complete control. Regarding the latter, the ease of our circumstances can make us feel this way. In my mind, I KNOW to a certain degree; I have lots of control over many things, even some of the stuff I don’t think I have control over. And when challenged, I can feel at times I have absolutely no control but that can be a good thing.
So how much control do you really have?
Well … lots! So much to the point that it can be problematic in the long run if not balanced. More on that later. Then there is the divine intervention aspect that steps in (YES it’s real) and makes you realize that you don’t have that much control after all, especially when you become an unchecked renegade at everyone else’s expense. Some seem to think of themselves in this fashion, but I assure you, everyone has a limit.
This limit hits home for everyone (ill-intentioned renegade or the goodwill citizen) when you realize that no matter what you try to do, how you try to orchestrate things, manipulate them even, you will not be in control of that outcome. Why? For a variety of reasons. Like, you need to release your attempts of control because you can cause yourself and others undue harm, bigger things are happening behind the scenes that impact many people, you need to learn a valuable lesson through the experience, or you are simply on the wrong track and going in the wrong direction.
The reasons can go on and on but let me share a personal story and lesson that helped me with an old control habit that wouldn’t die quickly. But before I share, let me say this. The upside is the lesson taught me something valuable that was obvious to my head but difficult to recognize and change because of my behavioral pattern.
A little backdrop … so since starting my business over 18 years ago, I’ve become a single mother whose raised five kids all while running my business full-time, in-between attending college and running my household and all that comes with it. Looking back, my plate has always been full. And because of the responsibilities that come with such decisions, having and maintaining control is vital, or so I thought.
Recently, upon preparing my twins for graduation, college entrance exams and such, I had a profound experience that reminded me that “Christmas, you are not in control.” The week leading up to the college entrance exam I had been diligently reminding them to have their documents ready and to study daily. My lifestyle at times is hectic, so structure and order are needed. Right up to the last minute before we walked out the door, I reminded them both, have your stuff together. We arrived at the testing center, and when the time came to check in, they failed to bring their ID’s. Both of them! Must have been the “twin effect.”
I’m like, are you kidding me? After all this time, this week of reminders and even 1-minute before leaving I reminded you and nada? Of course, you can imagine how annoyed I was, and it was the last testing date before the college application deadlines. I was really trying to control that situation. I had it all planned because we were already behind the eightball timeline wise.
As a result of not testing that day, they thought they blew their chance and would have to come back weeks later, delaying the entire process to start college as planned. It was a somber drive back home. In that moment of driving back (about an hour), it hit me … Christmas you are not in control. At that moment, we all learned valuable lessons, me about what I couldn’t control no matter how I tried and they learned about consequences due to lack of preparation and responsibility.
When you have to be in control and carry lots of responsibility, then delegation can be your best friend. But there are times when delegation isn’t fail-safe because there are lessons to be learned for all involved.
The sad flip side of this control addiction (whether you started out controlling or had to learn to take the reigns) is when you have to manage so many things, it can become a crutch to let go, even when it’s a necessity for others to learn. No loving parent wants to see their child suffer or fail.
Now the hard truth is that control in many ways makes us lazy in dealing with our fears and challenges. The opposite of what most people would think. Oh yeah … re-read that part again. Some examples people try to control is to prevent what they fear most from occurring, losses of all types and also to avoid inconvenience from mistakes others will make. In the end, it’s still a form of control that should be relinquished.
When you surrender and allow, which means you focus only on what you can do and manage and do your best, not exert overt control and resist what you fear, you will find yourself trusting the process more comfortably. You become more aligned with the best outcome regardless of the lessons to be learned.
Despite all the drama (and there was lots of it) the twins landed in the middle and will start college on time as they had hoped. I now have full emotional and physical realization of this transformational phase, where my role as a parent in control ends and theirs as young adults begin … literally.
I can feel and see a new horizon shaping. I feel the energy of excitement and change coming into view. The road is changing shape and direction, and my role as a parent is rapidly transforming. My youngest graduates next summer and I too will experience a graduation of sorts from the parental duties both past and present. I look forward to the next leg of the journey, shedding my old skin and taking on a new form.
Lately, some people have shared that they believe I’ll experience some form of empty nest syndrome and won’t know what to do with myself. I quietly smile then laugh while shaking my head and say to them, Nah, I won’t … Just watch me.
Let the next chapter begin!