So far 2018 has been one of the most challenging years that I have experienced in my 28 years of living. This year has been filled with a lot of self-hate, tears, and heartbreak. With that said, it has allowed me to do a lot of self-reflection, healing, and personal growth.
One of the most life-changing and challenging things I've learned this year is about control and why I need let go of it.
My whole life I've identified as a "fixer." I enjoy finding solutions to problems whether it's with relationships or work. In everything I do, I am always striving to make things better or make sure things are "good." I like helping people so if I think there's anything I can do to fix or make a person's day better you can be sure I'll do whatever it takes to make sure that happens. Honestly, I'm actually pretty good at it. Maybe for that exact reason, I rarely find myself feeling like there's not a way to fix something, and if I do feel that way it typically only lasts for a crying session or two. After that, I'll wipe my tears away and begin to brainstorm of all the possible outcomes to make things "ok" again. That's how my brain has always worked and how I navigated my life.
Or at least this is how I used to react to most hardships until I put myself in a position that caused me to feel like there's was no possible way to ever resolved the brokenness I was feeling.
The definition of control is "the power to influence or direct people's behavior or the course of events." I think we all seek control in many areas of our lives. We try to control our career path, relationships, and sometimes even other people to help achieve an enjoyable and fulfilling life for ourselves. There's absolutely nothing wrong with taking control of things. In fact, it's great to have authority over areas in your life to help obtain your goals. Control only becomes a problem when you start trying to control things that are not in your power to do so..
And that's exactly where I found myself without even realizing it. My desperate need for control disguised itself as a way of helping others and maintaining peace in my own life. When in reality, I was filled with anxiety and terrified that if I didn't hold it together and do everything right, and make sure everyone was happy my life would fall apart.
At one point it did seem like everything had crumbled beneath me when I put myself in a situation that I, of course, thought I could handle. It left me feeling for the very first-time unrepairable. I no longer could see the potential for positive outcomes, or the good that could come out of this situation. I was hurt, broken and ashamed with feelings of utter hopelessness.
Thankfully through a lot of counseling sessions and prayer, I have started to be able to let go of things that are not in my power to control and focus on what I do have a say over.
Here are some great reminders that I hope will help you (as they have me) when you are struggling with wanting to "fix" things that are out of your control:
You can't control the actions of others, but you can control how you react to them... and how they affect you. You may not like how someone treats you or even the decision they make, but you only have control over your life, not theirs. Don't let someone else's choices or actions steal your joy.
You are not a superhero or God. It is not your job to make sure everyone is ok and that everything turns out perfect in the end. That is far too great of responsibility for any human. It is a good thing to care and love others, but know when you've done all that you can for someone and leave the rest up to them. Otherwise, you will always feel like you are never doing enough or failing.
Focus on what you can control. Your thoughts, feelings, who you spend time with and what you chose to put your energy and faith into each day are all things that are in your power to control. I like how Steve Maraboli put it best. “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.”
Join the Conversation: What are some areas in your life that you need to let go of control?