Have you been feeling a sense of restlessness lately - that feeling of not knowing if you should plan ahead because things are changing on a daily basis (COVID problems..) or a spiral of thoughts that go from what do I do today to what if things never change? Trust me, you’re not the only one! But have you taken the time to reflect on where this feeling comes from?
“The reason many people in our society are miserable, sick, and highly stressed is because of an unhealthy attachment to things they have no control over.” - Steve Maraboli
We LOVE that feeling of being in control of things don't we? We are experts at creating a well-organized timeline of how we want things to work out for us. And sometimes, it's not us that sets these timelines for us. I don't want to generalize things but, I know one thing we LOVE doing is comparing ourselves to others and it starts from a young age. We get compared to our peers for school grades and as we get older we get compared to others for how soon someone graduates, how quickly they found a job after graduation, how much someone else makes in comparison to us, and it goes on! Do you notice the pattern here?
Two things that stay consistent throughout our lives is comparison to others and wanting to rush into the next step of that timeline we created to get that satisfaction of checking a box off our list. This is a behavior that is rooted deeply in our upbringing. If your caregivers were in control for the majority of your life, it's very likely that this trait passed on to you as well.
So, guess what happens when things don't work out according to this timeline of ours? A feeling of lack creeps in. We start to feel anxious or uncomfortable that things aren’t happening as they were supposed to. Questions like “Where did I go wrong? Why can’t things work out for me? Why does everyone else seem happier than me?” constantly run through our mind. We end up feeling less successful if our lives don’t match this timeline we or someone else create for ourselves. So if you can relate to this on some level so far, I truly hope you are willing to change the way you perceive your need to be in control.
Don't take me wrong - having goals is a great way to successfully accomplish tasks. But these goals should be created for things that we have complete control over. For example, a project we’re working on or a goal to control the way you spend.
Unfortunately, not everything in life is completely under our control.
When a situation doesn’t pan out the way we want to, our only way to avoid stress and hurting our well-being would be to let go of the need to be in control of the outcome. The only thing we have control over is our behavior and mind. If the need to be in control has always been a part of you, it's not something that can change overnight. But from personal experience, I can tell you that it's possible and oh my, does it feel good once you let go of wanting to be in control of everything. We need to stop being so hard on ourselves and let things happen as they're supposed to.
Figure out what you’re trying to control. Does this need to be in control all the time come from you or from the pressure of satisfying society’s standards of success, or fear of not pleasing people around you?
When I let myself imagine the best version of myself, I realized it didn’t require me to attain any of the things I was constantly reminded of achieving with a sense of urgency. I practiced the idea of letting loose of the grip I had over my wants and let things flow. And meanwhile, I've learnt to stay consistent with making sure that I wake up everyday feeling grateful for my health and the ability to maintain calmness and inner peace.
Once we realize that no matter how much we try, not everything can be controlled or rushed, we will attain a level of calmness and acceptance that everything is happening to teach us something and will eventually work out in our favor.