When you try to control everything, you enjoy nothing, sometimes letting go actually means having control. I’m sure the moment you have read this, you feel confused; how can letting go of control actually mean having it? Surrendering to what is, letting go of what was and having faith in what will be is the crux of our blog today.
Each person’s level of control differs and is primarily based on Extrinsic factors: The person your environment has molded you into or Nurture has endowed you with. This environment can be your family, friends, education, culture or your own interpretation of past life events. Based on these factors we design our own reality of control. For most of us this reality is kept in check when we believe a situation is working towards our expectations. However the real trouble come’s when we set expectation (whether real or unreal) about the present or future that does not seem to materialize. Its then that the little control monster living inside comes alive and decides to take measures that end up making the situation worse.
Let’s take a step back to evaluate why this happens; why do we hold on to things thinking ‘if I hold tight enough, it will come true’? Holding on to things and not surrendering to what is only creates a future that’s more messed up and validates your need to control eve n further (then we have a nervous breakdown). It’s when we reach the absolute bottom and our life has spun so much out of control (control being the very thing we were trying to do in the first place) that we realize, things can’t be pushed or controlled.
Say today I had the power to get whatever I wanted and all I want is an elephant, but the room I have is just big enough to sustain me and I’m not aware of that. What do you think would happen to me, my room and the elephant if this desire came true just because I wished it? Well I would get crushed and my house would be in shambles and in all probability I would blame the confused elephant for all my troubles. In reality I can’t wish things into existence, so I end up controlling my life and thoughts so much just to bring that elephant into reality. My control ends up tunneling my vision and clouding my judgment. All good things do happen with time and everything does happen for a reason. So there could be a reason behind me not getting my elephant that I may currently not be aware of.
Control is basically persistence without evaluation or introspection. So if you feel like things are not working out and people have started calling you obsessed or a control freak, you need to step back and evaluate yourself. When one door closes another opens, but if I’m so fixated on that one door I don’t see the opportunity of two elephants waiting for me behind the next.
So let me tell you 4 facts that a control freak like me accepted in order to become a recovering control freak:
• Fact 1: no one has control over the outcome of any situation
• Fact 2: No one can control how the other person feels, thinks, says or behaves
• Fact 3: Fear, uncertainty, self-doubt, ego/pride and lack of trust is food to
the controller inside.
• Fact 4: You only have control over what you feel, think, say and behave
Steps to becoming a recovering Control Freak:
1. Address the Causes of control taking over: Having working parents, I was
taught long ago to be self-sufficient. I started working after the age of 15 and looked after myself more often than never. Where on the positive side it made me a grown up faster and progress in my career at a very early age, it also showed me that I was the only one who could get the work done. It made me believe that ‘it was me against the world’ and only I could make my own reality. This actually made me lose trust in people and exponentially increased my pride and self-worth. So along with that, my fear of being obsolete increased as well; I used to think to myself ‘If I let go, what’s my purpose’. Each one of us would have experiences that made us into control freaks we are today. But its only after I addressed the causes of my insecurities, that I realized most of it was in my head
2. Ask yourself what would happen if…: My husband who then
was my boyfriend of many years asked me ‘What would happen if you let go?’. So I narrated a list of situations that would happen if I surrendered my control. His only response to most of them was “Really?”. I was still not convinced that my control was wrong. But when you have someone asking you ‘Really?’ enough number of times, you start asking yourself the question “What would happen if..?” before taking an action. Hence m y next step becomes really important: A buddy to remind you that you would still be valued even if you let go. Life carries on and your reality expands from a tunneled view to something that actually helps you grow as a human being.
3. The buddy system: It has taken me 5 plus years to become a recovering
control freak. This recovery would not be possible without a great support system who reminded me regularly to let go. It was not just my husband that helped me; my boss and even my team. I am sure any manager reading this must be wondering, ‘How can your team help you let go of control’. It is difficult only for 2 reasons: 1. Perception of losing one’s position and respect 2. Perception of not being required. At the end of the day, it’s a perception that stops you, because if it were a reality we would not have teams, organizations or the need for friends and family. But let me tell you one thing through experience: respect, position and being required is earned and not forced upon. The moment I allowed myself to let go, they stopped fearing me and we actually could call ourselves a team.