A lot of times, people don’t complain to get advice, they complain to connect with someone. There’s something called a “yes, but” conversation, and it’s when we state what’s wrong but disregard any advice about how to fix it. We do this because we don’t want help. The same is true with control.
Most people cite “losing control” as one of their most fundamental fears. Really, that perceived lack of control is a defense mechanism, one that helps us avoid accepting how much control we really do have. There are very few things in your life that you don’t control – like when a family member passes, or a company collapses and you lose your job. Those things are hard, but they don’t have to be defining.
When you start really thinking about what you do control, you start to realize that the circumstances aren’t the question. The question is: what are you going to do now?
Because you control what you read. You control what you put into your body. You control how you respond to the people around you, and you control who you allow into your life. You control how you respond to injustice. You control the job applications you do or don’t send. You control how much time you spend online.
You control your hygiene and style and whether or not you exercise. You control what kind of treatment you will tolerate. You control what you’ll do at work today. You control whether or not you try. You control whether or not you try again. You control when you decide it’s time to “give up.” You control whether or not you learn from your mistakes, you control whether you see breakups as punishments or opportunities to find someone better. You control what you post online. You control who you follow. You control what you write down. You control not what you think, but what you believe.
You control how you treat the people closest to you. You control whether or not you schedule your time and set reminders. You control the tidiness of your home. You control whether you learn to cook. You control not always how much money you have, but whether or not you manage it. You control what field you work in. You control what matters to you. You control how long and how often you will apply for work in a new one if you aren’t happy or aren’t making enough. You control what you do on a Friday night. You control what you do to your hair. You control whether or not you listen to the sound advice of people who know better than you. You control the amount of time in which you will allow yourself to be complacent. You control whether or not you become the person you always wanted to be.
You control what you say. You control what you do with feedback – and everything is feedback. You control the big picture, even if you don’t control the road bumps along the way. You control whether or not you go get help, even if you don’t heal overnight. You control your self-image, even if you disagree with how others see you. You control what you think is possible, by virtue of going out and seeing what is. You control your sphere of influence.
What you don’t control is other people, but you don’t need to. All of the things that built real meaning, and true happiness, like purpose, and community, and self-image, and grit, and resilience, and love? That’s self-generated. That’s all on you.
Instead of belaboring what you can’t help, try working on what you can. Maybe what you’ll find in the end is that you were never really scared that you’d lose control, but that you never found it in the first place.