Every day of my life, I am fighting for control. I cover myself in layer after layer of pattern in order to heighten my sense of comfort; it creates the illusion that I am in charge. I pout and complain when things don’t go my way because I am hoping the people around me will feel bad and give me back the remote.
And as the world burns to the ground, I stubbornly persist in thinking that if things went just a little more my way, everything would be much better.
I’ve wasted so much time trying to control others. It is a devastating symptom of victim mentality. I ‘need’ others to change in order for me to be okay. And so, I hurt them, I demand absurd things from them, I throw passive-aggressive little tests at them. I do all I can to manipulate them into the change I need them to make in order for me to be okay. It’s a bit of confused irony. I want to take control of others because I can’t be better unless others change.
Not only is it irony; it is foolishness.
There are only three things I can control. It is the same for all of us. Three things. For one tiny human on this massive planet.
I can control my choices. We’re all quite addicted to blame. I was babysitting a toddler once and we were at a fast-food restaurant playground. In a moment of panic, I lost him. After some searching, he was huddled in a corner, underneath a play area. There was another little boy and a little girl playing happily nearby. After much coaxing, I finally got an answer to why he was sulking. “She pooped my pants!” he screamed suddenly, crying and pointing to the little girl. I was confused.
I sometimes act with the same absurdity. I don’t want to take responsibility for my actions. I don’t want to get in trouble. I don’t want to be embarrassed. So, I try to dictate control of my choices to someone else.
Secondly, I can control my attitude/perspective. When we first got married, I caught myself telling a friend, “My wife made me so angry this morning.” It’s a lie we use constantly. The truth is, my wife cannot force me to be mad. She can say or do something to trigger me, but my attitude is a response under my control.
In the same way, I can choose the perspective I adopt. Is this situation a hindrance or a possibility? Is it stifling or a chance to grow? I’m not talking about ignoring the reality. Feeling the true weight of situations is a must. But not at the cost of ignoring the entirety of the story. We need a more holistic approach to our attitudes.
Lastly, I can control who I trust. If someone does something to hurt me, I need to reassess my trust in the person.
That’s it. That is the entire list. Everything in the world I can control. The Trifecta.
One of the reasons we are power-hungry control monsters is that we are created for personal responsibility. Within these three things is the power to change me, the power to change the world. These three things are the harbingers of freedom. They are the catalysts for deep internal change and proper external influence.
If we can learn to grasp, to really take hold of these three things and to let go, really release, everything else, we have discovered a key to living and leading in peace, purpose, and increased effectiveness.