Having the world respond to us in ways to make us feel more comfortable is as natural as a newborn crying out to be fed. We are born to respond and the way the world responds reinforces our actions. And, that’s how we learn what works.
Yesterday, I received one of those annoying robotic telephone calls. When I answered, the demanding recorded voice said “STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW AND LISTEN.” Was that control, I thought? Immediately, I hung up the phone, never to know what it was that someone wanted me to hear. In that moment, the tight woven fabric of my being resisted being controlled.
Andrew is a very smart man who is outgoing, articulate, and speaks up for what he sees are the wrongdoings of his company. He has desires to move up the ladder. Those around him see him as ambitious, but dangerously stepping on the very toes of those who would be able to help him. He “knows” how to make everything the way it’s suppose to be. People tend to dismiss him. The more he feels dismissed, the louder his dissatisfaction is expressed and the more he is dismissed. He is going nowhere. He feels hopeless, anger and despair. He does not have the despair he wants. Is his anxiety
a fear of being successful or a fear of failure?
Mary is distraught. Her relationship seems more and more distant. The far and few between talks only lead to fights. She holds back as she doesn’t wish to distant the relationship further. Her attempt to control the situation is through avoidance. Chuck Plahniuk of Lullaby says “No matter how much you love someone, you still want to have your own way.” She doesn’t have to deal with the conflict. Her avoidance leads to anger, sadness, and hopelessness. She feels no control in her situation. Is her anxiety about fear of loss or fear of moving on?
Sue wants to get over her depression. Her medication keeps increasing, and she does feel better. However, she blames others for her not getting “well” and thus, nothing changes for her. Because she does not follow through with the advice to help her alleviate her depression, she controls the belief that no one wishes to help her get well. Is her anxiety about getting well or staying ill?
These scenarios describe ways of wanting something different by different ways of using control. Control is a way to keep fear away. So, how does one move on?
1. Trust what will happen, and whether our expectations will be met. So learn to trust the outcome. If the outcome doesn’t meet your expectations, you can rely on the Serenity Prayer:
Grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 – 1971)
Trust is threaded into the core of our being. It begins as a baby learns that he can count on the world to feed, comfort, and be safe. Without it, we become anxious and fearful about Overcome anxiety through trust
2. Learn ways to let go . Mindfulness. You only live in the moment
3. Be you.
4. Apologize when warranted.
The bottom line is that what we are learning becomes our way of responding to life around us. It makes us comfortable, it tames the restless nature of things being out of control. The more out of control we feel, the more we fight to add a control. Heartache endures, stress heightens, and it pushes people away.
The next time you catch yourself controlling a situation, turn up your curiosity and ask “What will happen if I just leave it alone.” I’m reminded of a story where a young man asked his grandfather, “What’s your secret for a well-lived life?” The grandfather answered, “When it rains, I let it.”