I’ll never forget, I was sitting in a training in Chicago and my best friend calls me up and tells me he just got cut from the Carolina Panthers. I could feel his pain, restlessness, and discomfort through the phone. Everything he had ever worked for and essentially ever known had been taken from him, the rug pulled out from underneath. As I sat there in silence, grasping for something to say, little came to mind. After about a minute (felt like an hour), I managed to stammer “there isn’t anything you can do or say at this very moment to reverse what just went down, BUT you do have the power to choose how you respond to this disheartening news.”
Perhaps the deepest need we have is for a sense of control. When we feel out of control, we experience a powerful and uncomfortable tension between the need for control and the evidence of lack of control.
The fact is, there are few things in life over which we have control. Even when we think a situation is within our grip, there are many factors beyond our grasp. At work, we are dependent on our team or the Partner on the job. In our personal life, partners and friends are motivated by their own feelings and interest. Our livelihood depends on the success of our jobs or investments. Our health is at the mercy of the Universe. To come to terms with our lack of control, we must realize that control is in fact, an illusion. We think control will bring us peace of mind, but it is only by accepting our lack of control and by letting go, that we find peace. This is clearly evident in the example I gave above. Once we learn to fully accept this concept, it is easier to thrive in life’s natural push and pull.
When the need to control something or somebody arises, ask yourself, “Am I better off making up an alternate reality in my mind and then fighting with reality to make it be my way, or am I better off letting go of what I want and serving the same forces of reality that managed to create the entire perfection of the Universe around me?”
Instead of trying to manipulate things you cannot change, work with what you can influence. As soon as we cease our attempts to own and control the environment we are in, we open ourselves up to the acceptance of new possibilities!
I will end on a quote I heard the other day from Steve Maraboli: “Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.”