Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Control vs Calm

Letting go of the need to control your environment or others is very liberating. Experiencing the need to control (or more accurately 'co-dependency') is very common and almost feels natural. Except it’s not. It becomes very tiring instructing someone how to drive safely when you are a passenger, or trying to give someone advice on doing something in a way you think will work better. Realistically, it is not up to me to coach others on how to work more efficiently or to use their time productively, or to advise others on how to look after their health, or to try and pass on what works for me onto others. That is not my business. Nor is it my business to think others are incapable of handling themselves. And now that the thought has sunk in it is extremely liberating.

The need to feel as though I have control over situations stems from my childhood and was further nourished as an adult when our family went through a very traumatic and difficult time. The feeling of fear that stems from lack of control is stressful, draining and is never satisfying. There is no end to it, no matter how much control you do actually gain or have over situations. Once you feel you have control over a situation you simply move onto another situation. Like I said, draining.

This compulsive behaviour in me reached its peak after experiencing great emotional pain and stress, sadness and a strong feeling of helplessness. It was only natural for me to crave a feeling of control over my surroundings. No control only brings about pain and suffering, right? Not necessarily. I thought though, that if I had control during those difficult times the things that took place would not have taken place. This of course was not realistic. Everything seems easier to control and navigate in hindsight. Whether I was in control or not I would not have had the ability to change circumstances brought about by accident or someone else’s actions. I get that now. But it took me a few years. In that time I over-compensated by trying to have control over all other areas around me.

Somehow the penny dropped for me this week. I sat in my monthly therapist appointment and my therapist said four words that I have not heard in awhile. She said ‘You are very calm.’ Calm. For a person who has spent the better part of the past 7 or 8 years wound up, manic, obsessively worrying and anxious, the word calm evokes some enormous gratitude and  comfort. I feel calm. I am calm. As a result I realise I don’t even need or want control over everything anymore. I am essentially handing back control to other individuals and not taking responsibility for their actions any longer.

Time to sit back and enjoy my moment, and let others enjoy theirs.

{Image source: Pinterest}


  1. That's brilliant.
    I 'get' the tendency to control.
    Not so much others, but my environment.
    I also have found that this need is exacabated when facing a crisis, grief or stress.
    It's a beautiful feeling, that contentment to 'live and let live'.
    I'm glad you're in such a calm place.

  2. Live and let live, that's it. That is my new mantra! Love it!

    It's a great place to be Shar, definitely nicer than other places I have been in the past. Very grateful, though it has taken a lot of work on my part. It is amazing what the mind is capable of. :)

  3. Wow. I LOVE this Peggy. Somehow, I can strangely relate to everything you say here. I would definitely say I'm a control freak kind of person. I even realise this and know I have some issues with it. I've considered speaking to someone professionally about it too, but haven't yet done so. I agree also, that the control compulsion stems from something traumatic, it's a defence mechanism. Thanks for sharing something so raw and real xo

  4. It is a defence mechanism Julie, you're right. I read that alcoholism in a family system can encourage co-dependency. Kids learn the behaviour from their parents, particularly if one parent is alcoholic and the other is trying to maintain control (in a co-dependency type of fashion). I can imagine this is quite a common cause.

    I know therapy isn't for everyone but it really works wonders for me. After all these years I can say I am light years ahead of where I would be had I not sought professional help. I think of her as my life coach now, she just supports me along my journey. :)

    I am still a control freak deep down inside, I just know when the time comes to let it slide. It's not easy though! xo


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