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  • Writer's pictureSusie Pitts

Control...Word UP! How it plays out in our lives right now.

Consider for a moment the word C O N T R O L. It is not just merely a word. It’s a concept and behavior, we have defined it, we manifest it and we use it every day of our lives.

Let’s go back in time. From the moment you are born control plays a role in your life. Your parents put you on a schedule to make sure you have food on a regular basis so as not to under or over feed you. By the time you are around 3-5 you become “potty-trained”. Now, most of us can’t remember when that happened but somehow or another our parents teach us to hold-on until we can get to the bathroom.

Further into our progression on the timeline we are given a set of boundaries to live by such as not acting out when we don’t get our way when we want the candy bar in front of us at the grocery check-out line. Tantrums are not allowed especially in public places.

As we enter school, we learn to play with others without being selfish, we learn to share. We are taught to sit at our desks and be in control of our bodies and minds while the teacher is talking. Our parents pick out our clothes for us, they pack our lunches, they tell us what TV shows we can watch, they tell us if we can spend the night with a friend, etc. They are in control of our lives. The control “to do” list is long. By the time we are in our teens, we have had enough of mom and dad controlling our lives, so we rebel. Of course, we rebel, we have had 12 or 13 years of someone else telling us what to do, how to act, what clothes to wear, what schools we will attend, etc. And, so it goes for the rest of our lives only now, as adults we can be the ones in control. Or are we? I think we struggle with this umbrella of control on a daily basis and particularly now with what is happening on a global scale.

A few months ago, I wrote about our world as being caddy-wampus. It’s been turned upside down and shaken to the core. The control umbrella that has sheltered us from the rain is inside out. We are no longer being protected. Our world leaders’ control much about our lives, with rules, and laws, etc. They have had to regain their footing to ensure our world economies do not fall completely apart. Our local leaders have had to step up to the plate and make sure they set guidelines for us to all stay safe while we endure the isolation, loneliness, and financial uncertainty of this pandemic.

I am merely observing and asking questions about this word control as it is at the forefront of my mind. I’m turning inward and asking myself about how control works in my life? At what point is it a determent to me, my loved ones, and my friends? How do I manifest it? What are the positive aspects of control? If I am being controlling about a situation, why? What is the outcome of being controlling in that moment? It comes down to being cognizant and mindful of my thoughts and actions. That means I have to have the ability to be mindful of my own behaviors. Being mindful takes practice it’s something my colleague and friend Trey and I have been writing about for a while now. (There is a book forthcoming on living mindfully). I must take a look at it, sometimes it’s not easy to admit I’m trying to control a situation. But because as of late I am more aware and mindful of it; I am indeed recognizing it for what it is and observing how it is playing out in my daily life. That is the first step in change. Acknowledge it then you can slowly address it.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to discover what this word control means to you.

How does control play out in your life? Do you even know or recognize that you are being controlling? How is that working for you? Really examine all the different aspects of it, the good, bad, the ugly. If there are many situations that have an ugly outcome, then what do you need to do to not repeat it the next time you are faced with the same or similar situation? What would it take for you to slowly begin the process of letting go of control issues that are, and have been areas of contention in your life? What have you learned from being "controlling"? What would happen if you practiced a new way of being and living? What happens for you when you feel out of control? Does your pulse race, do you feel out of sorts, does your breathing quicken, do you begin to panic? Is "control" one of your many life lessons? What if you committed to practicing mindfulness and awareness of this thing called "control"? Not for one moment do I think this task is an easy one. After all, we learn these ways of being over our lifetime. But, what if? What if you connected to your authentic self and began to take the time to learn about that part of you that has been a blessing and a negative? Can you allow yourself the space and time it requires to become conscious in moments of "losing control" of a person or situation? Why do you need to control you, them, etc.? What do you get out of it? So much to consider – it is definitely a word, concept and action worth evaluating.

A wonderful therapist and teacher proclaims that, "nothing changes... if nothing changes... if nothing changes." I think it is indeed one of our collective life lessons.

How is control or lack of it playing out in your life? Are you willing to let go of it when appropriate and experience moments without that construct?

Susie Pitts – Grief and Bereavement Practitioner

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