Thursday, January 22, 2015

On Taking Control, & Letting It Go

For the first time in what feels like weeks, I have found myself at a moment where my work queue is not a frenzy, and my brain is not too sick of computer screens to even think about here I am!

I have wanted to blog sooOOoo many times over the last couple of weeks, on sooOOoo many thoughts on my job outlook this year (clock is ticking on my current contract with increasing speed), adventures I've been having, random observations on life and society, SkyMall magazine, that Christmas tree I never yet blogged about (oh but I will.....timeline be damned), my new workout focus/routine that is going better than maybe any prior efforts I've made in that realm, books I've been reading, my upcoming Italy trip (so soon!!!!).....and on and on.

It will all come with time.

Right now, I want to talk about control.

As in, how much control we have over our lives.....and how much we don't.

I was spilling some thoughts to my sister this morning, about my career and my dating life and so on, and I kind of verbally stumbled across this common thread that's woven through all of these situations: the idea of control.

Fact: In every situation, there are things we can control, and things we can't. I think a lot of our emotional/mental conflict in life is caused by failing to recognize that and not living harmoniously with it.

I feel like a real hippie for using the word "harmoniously." Moving on....

FOR EXAMPLE.... With exercise, I can control how often I work out and how diligently I stick to a plan and how carefully I avoid junk food (see: not as carefully as I usually should, haha). With my career, I can work as hard as possible and network and give it my all. With dating.....well I don't know, I'm always doing something or other to further my cause. haha. In all of these situations, there are things I *can* control....

....and then there are things that I can't. On the exercise front, I can't control my body type or the speed at which I see visible results or if I get sick or injured or so on and so on. In job world, there's things like headcount and timing and other candidates and etc. that I have zero control over in regard to my own hiring processes and longevity. With dating, half the game is always in the hands of another human, and there really is no controlling that at all (nor should we want to -- who wants to talk someone into being with them? negative, ghost rider).

These are the facts. Things you can control, and things you can't.

I think where we run into problems (or I do, at least) is when I mess up the balance too far in either direction.

Sometimes I think there's nothing at all that I can control, and I feel helpless. I start to feel like a victim, and like nothing is going my way, and that everything is out of my hands and my efforts don't matter at all.

And then sometimes I think I can control everything if I really just try hard enough, which is inevitably futile and frustrating as I fail at fitting people and situations into the boxes and decisions that I want them to fit into. It's a losing game.

Good news: there is a balance. It's somewhere in there. It looks something like a circle, I think, with one half saying "things I can control" and the other half saying "things I can't." And between those two halves, there's a big fat line that says BOUNDARIES. And I think a large part of my happiness and peace of mind revolves around learning to respect that boundary and choosing to live peacefully with it.

Look, I drew the visual for you guys on a napkin. I'm so giving and artistic:

(why did I not draw it as a yin yang? hashtag regret)

I feel most in balance when I can clearly recognize this reality, and choose to live with it instead of constantly fighting against it.

In any given situation, I try and recognize the things I have control over, and then I do them as best I can (while carefully avoiding guilt if my reality doesn't meet my expectations). And then I also recognize the things I can't control......and learn to let them go. And that is a process, it really is. But in the moments when I can do that, I feel really good. I feel light, and free, and confident, and secure, and empowered. And it's kind of a priceless feeling to be able to feel empowered, regardless of what is or isn't out of your hands, in the end.

Just a few quick thoughts. And now back into the fray! (Not like the band.) (Maybe like the band.)


Kailee said...

Gah, thank you SO much for this post. I needed it like crazy today. I'm happy you blogged again!

sydni said...

that's a really mature way to look at things... it's a lesson that i am constantly learning [and having to re-learn over and over and over again haha]

Priscilla said...

Excellent post. I recently heard about this little technique in a stress management meeting. I took the time to write out what I can control and can't control. That's about as far as I've gotten because I'm still angry with the things I can't control. I try to really focus on the things I can control. I like your drawing with the boundaries line. I need to add that to my thoughts and drawing.

FWIL Sentimental Blog Content said...

Have you thought of making prints and selling them? Of course they still need to look like napkins.