Anyone know any control freaks, or do you suffer from this problem yourself? Needing to feel in control has been one of the biggest struggles of my life, particularly since Stefanie’s death. For the longest time, I thought it was just James and I dealing with the fallout of having all control taken from us and chalked it up to being neurotic—particularly about the safety of the kids. This I accept, forgive, and even embrace—like a badge of honour.
However, it doesn’t stop there and this is where things start to go off the rails.
The positive side of trying to figure this out has been some fantastic discussions with friends who have similar struggles around control, each from their own unique perspective. Thank goodness I’m not alone. We try to control things in our lives to protect ourselves from being hurt. There might be times when we push people away because we’re afraid they’re getting too close, or we become somewhat O.C.D. or take up some sort of behaviour that we feel we can control—dieting, exercise, etc… One thing I do is fill my life with so much stuff that I spend 99% of my time trying to keep everyone and everything organized—controlling, always controlling, which seems to feed the beast that lives inside me.
Recently there has been a significant amount of change in my life, personally and professionally, which, as one might guess, makes the need to be in control that much more pronounced. Add to that recent news about the final appeal in Stefanie’s homicide trial (coming up in November) and it became obvious that it was time to get my neuroticism under control (how ironic is that?).
The very best way, albeit requiring a conscious effort, is to remain, as much as possible, in the present moment. For anyone who hasn’t read the book “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, I highly suggest it.
Tolle writes about how the mind has continual conversations with itself that are difficult to turn off and they are all based on what has happened in the past. To free ourselves from this, we need to try and watch the thoughts we are having as if they were someone else’s thoughts. When we think of them in that way, they stop controlling us and we can disconnect ourselves from the constant chatter. Obviously we need to use our thinking minds to solve problems and survive, but by getting some perspective we can enjoy the present moment and bring more peace to our lives.
In his summary Tom Butler-Bowdon writes:
“Tolle’s basic law is that the more we resist our current situation, the more painful it is. Obviously, if we are thinking “This can’t be happening”, the fact that it is makes it unbearable. Waiting and looking forward to the day when you will be happy or prosperous, for instance, only makes resistance to the present situation stronger. The thought that we could be somewhere else, be with someone else, doing something else can turn our life into a living hell. Is there a way out? The author provides a paradoxical solution: you have to forgive the situation and accept its right to be; even if you hate the situation, accept your hatred as part of it, but don’t keep saying to yourself, ‘This is not happening, this can’t be’.
The present moment, Tolle dares us to consider, is actually problem-free. Problems need to exist in time, so the more you live in the present the less life you give them. “
As far as forgiving a situation and accepting its right to be, even if you hate it, owning that hatred and allowing yourself to feel it, is healthy. Many times we’re not ready to forgive or accept and feel desperate. Grief and despair are the darkest and most dangerous emotions, whereas anger is actually further up the emotional scale with joy and enlightenment at the top.
The best I can do right now is one day at a time. When we stop thinking about yesterday and what “might” happen tomorrow, it’s easier to let go of that need to control a future outcome. I, of all people, know that what we think our tomorrows will hold may not be what we expect.