I Was a Control Freak

When I was a kid, my riding teacher would tell me to relax on my horse, and I would think to myself Relax? Heck no. If I relax, I will fall off! And I would grip the reins tighter.

When I was struggling with eating disorders in my teens and twenties, I was sure if I relaxed around food I would eat everything in sight.

I worried that if I took a day off from exercise I would never get off the couch again.

I used to try to make everything OK when there was a family fight. My twin joked that I was the peacemaker. In truth, I just heightened family drama by inserting myself.

Now, after decades of trying to control myself and the circumstances around me, I have loosened my grip. And guess what? I have not fallen off or binged. I have an exercise routine I love and my family is doing great.

I discovered that this chaos I feared would be unleashed if I did not keep a tight grip on everything never happened. In fact, I realized that the best I can be for myself is kind and patient, not a rigid taskmaster. The best I can be for someone else is simply to listen and ask questions that help them find their own answers. Don’t control the outcome, just Be here now.

A friend of mine once said that often the wisest thing to do in a circumstance is Nothing. Wait until it shakes out. Usually things work themselves out.

I agree: things do work themselves out. When I try to control them, I just stress myself out and am rarely helpful.
This doesn’t mean we sit back and simply try to attract great things into our life. But there is a difference between being proactive and controlling. Proactivity is about my side of the street, but being controlling is when I decide how the other side of the street should look and I interfere to get it that way.

So this year, I am going to let things roll out with less input from me. I am going to listen more, talk less and stop gripping the reins so tightly.

And the earth will undoubtedly remain on its axis and everyone will survive just fine.