Have you ever felt like you always had to be in charge? Do you feel like things are better when you decide how they turn out? Do you find yourself asking “why do I need to control everything?”
It’s something a lot of people deal with, but I have good news: there’s a reason why you do this, and there are ways to resolve it.
The Need for Control
Life can be tough. There are so many things that can go wrong, and so many ways we’ve been hurt. People we care about cause us pain, and things that we want are snatched away.
It’s not easy to deal with the hurt and disappointment life can bring. As kids we learn how to deal with it as best as we know how. Often, we find ways to control our lives to avoid this pain and disappointment. We can often push it farther by trying to control others so they don’t hurt us or cause us pain.
At some point we end up asking ourselves “why do I need to control everything?” The answer is simple: because control makes us feel safe.
But are we really safe, or do we just feel that way? The fact that you’re reading this means you know the answer. It’s all an illusion, and the more we fight for control, the less we find happiness, joy, and contentment.
There’s a better approach, but first, let’s see what control looks like.
The Face of Control
In relationships, do you find yourself requiring other people to act a certain way or are you okay with them being themselves*? When things don’t go your way can you go with the flow or do you get angry? Do you often find yourself telling other people how to live their lives or are you able to step back and let them figure things out for themselves?
Control simply looks like you have all the answers and you know how everything is supposed to be. It looks like a shield you wear around yourself to protect yourself from harm by making sure everything happens in a particular way.
But life doesn’t work like that. Life is full of people who want to make their own choices, both good and bad, and full of unexpected situations we can’t predict. In this type of situation you may ask yourself “why do I need to control everything when I simply can’t control anything?”
The better question is how do you learn to let go of control? By employing three simple steps within your own control.
The Cure for Control
If you want to make your relationships better, your stress level lower, and your days happier, you can wean yourself off of control with these simple steps. The great thing is that you control how you employ them and when.
- Pay Attention: The first thing you do is just pay attention. Notice when you try to take control. See the reaction others have when you do it. Think about what triggered your need for control, and determine how you feel (safe, scared, worried, etc). Sometimes just paying attention will have a huge impact on your need for control.
- Look For the Adventure: Have you ever had a surprise that really made your day? Have you ever tried an ice cream flavor that totally blew your socks off and became your favorite? Sometimes letting go and going with the flow can reap huge rewards. At least once a week, let go and just go along for the ride.
- Start Small; Go Big: At first, simply let go of small things. Maybe someone else can pick out which fruit to pick up at the grocery or where you go to eat. Over time, try bigger and bigger things. Let other people plan the entire trip to the grocery store when you’re ready to live with a few mistakes and enjoy the adventure that will add to your life. There’s no rush. It’s better to be patient and change over a year or more than to get frustrated and give it all up.
You can change your inner dialogue from “why do I need to control everything?” to “why didn’t I give up control much sooner?” if you just pay attention to what you’re doing and why, expect some adventure, and start small, ou can take control of your life by giving up the control.
It’s your life. Make the most of it.
* This does not include acting in a way that is harmful to you. If people are mean, violent, or closed off, you have every right to expect something better.