When gives you lemons, what do you do with them?
Fact of Life: we do not have control over everything in our life. We do not have control over other people, or situations that take us by surprise.
Trying to control everything leads to one outcome. Stress. Hardly surprising as it is essentially a pointless exercise. So, why do we live our lives in fear of losing control?
Fear of the loss of control is actually one of the most prevalent fears that people have. The fear that if you do not manage to control the outcome of future events, your life will spiral out of control and you won’t be able to deal with it. You start to imagine horrible outcomes – depression, poverty, addiction etc. In a chronic state, people who fear loss of control are in paroxysms of anxiety all the time.
I understand. I’m a former control freak
Behind the need to control everything is a deeper desire for certainty.
I thought that in order to succeed I had to force everything. If a business contact didn’t get back to me, I would freak out. My thought pattern went something like… “what should I do? should I keep bugging them? if they don’t get back to me soon (and the other people I’m waiting around for), then this whole chain of events and this planned outcome that I have will get completely derailed”. Quelle horreur!
Or if this video and this website is not launched on time, then that’s is the end of the world! Why can’t people just fall into line with what they need to do? why can’t everyone be as efficient as me?
I needed certainty of answer – just tell me YES or NO. Certainty of timing. Certainty of income. Certainty of… you get the point.
My whole life (or since I was a teenager) was about building a secure life (read certain).
One of my lightbulb moments was going back to visit the people in my office (the last corporate job I had). I was wondering if I had made the right decision to pursue my own destiny as an entrepreneur. The very wise receptionist there said to me: “nothing in life is certain. people always assume they’re secure in their job. but it’s just an illusion. life can change in a second.”
How right she was.
All that my control freakiness brought me is sleepless nights, stress, anxiety, unhappiness. Would you stay in a relationship like that? I had deliberately picked an ‘uncertain’ future i.e. what other people would consider as uncertain. I knew it was time to get comfortable with uncertainty.
The world IS uncertain
It is unrealistic to demand certainty in a world that is tentative and uncertain.
Determine what is in your control, determine what action you need to take. Realise what is not in your control and let it go.
Easier said than done, I know.
Recently, I got thrown completely off track. Life got in the way of my best laid plans. My partner’s mother died suddenly (she had cancer but the mode of death was sudden and unexpected). I wanted to be at my partner’s side and support him.
Stressful times and drinking more than usual to cope with it, take their toll on our energy, drive and motivation. Suddenly, a month later, I found myself at a low. The old me in a bid to control things (and outcomes) would have forced myself to carry on with my plans regardless of my low energy or how I was feeling.
Instead, I forced myself to take a step back, look after myself and recover. So, I could attack my plans stronger than ever. It took a week to get back to myself. And I had a very important insight during that period. One that affected the way I manage myself and the work that I do.
In fact, I accepted that maybe this was entirely the way it was all meant to be. None of us know exactly what’s in store for us. If we try and control everything to a T, we don’t leave room for something even better than we expected to happen.
Yes, so what if the world ends if I don’t do this now? Or what if it doesn’t? What if by slowing down, I realise something of crucial importance? That helps me get to where I want to go faster? What if something even better than I planned happened instead?
When I finally got all my ducks in a row, I realised they’re not even my ducks. Let go of the illusion of control. Jeanna Sayre