I wish I had an eloquent speech I could give about control and how it’s not going to get you the results you want, but realistically there’s no easy way to put it. If you feel that you need to control everything in order to be happy, you will find that 100% of the time you are wrong. Many women, including myself at one point, feel that the only way to ensure their happiness in everything is to control everything in their lives. I’ve never met a single controlling person that does everything, controls everyone, and isn’t stressed out to the max or completely unhappy.
We control the relationships we’re in -
We control who our significant other can and can’t talk to, who they can hang out with, when they can go somewhere, and where they can go. I believe that when someone has been through some relationships that have ended in failure, it pushes us to feel that we need to control a relationship to ensure its success. Some women go through their significant other’s phone and email; some treat their significant others like children, giving them routines and deciding for them how they should do things. Overtime this turns the relationship into somewhat of a stressful dictatorship rather than a team effort. I could go on here but I’ll save that for another post -
We control our kid’s or stepchild’s lives -
So here’s the deal with kids - they’re irrational, irresponsible, unpredictable little people that could either be a blessing or a curse. It’s hard to control something that is unpredictable. While we can control their behaviors in terms of household rules, how they treat/speak to you, and for the most part their routine, we cannot control every single moment. For me, I have step kids and I only have them half of the time. This means that the other half of the time they are with their bio mom who, unfortunately for the kids, is also irrational, irresponsible, and unpredictable. Often times there are things that happen that I just have to step back from. I know I’m doing a great job raising them on my part, but I can’t always expect them to live up to my standards - they will make mistakes.
We control our households -
This scales beyond just significant others and kids. If you like to have control over everything, you will reflect these same things onto a friend or family member staying in your home. Currently I have one of my brothers staying with us until he gets on his feet. There have been moments where, just like with the kids, I’ve had to step back and let it be. For example, when I say I want the dishes done, the lawn mowed, or clean up your living space - I meant like now. Well, wouldn’t you know that if you want to live in a peaceful home then it’s not going to happen like that. My brother is an adult and, although this is my house, he is in charge of his own time. As long as he gets it done that’s all that matters, even if it’s later in the evening rather than when I wanted it done.
We control our jobs -
Typically people that have to control everything tend to also be perfectionist. We know that there may be 1,000 things to do, but if we want them done quick and we want them done right then we will have to do them ourselves. In some ways this is true, in many ways it’s not. You may experience burn out at work if you don’t allow others to help you. Yes they may be slow at it, yes they may do it wrong or they may not do it how you do it - are you ready for this……..IT’S OKAY! I’m almost sure that no one ever died from not doing things your way - in fact, you’ve never died from people not doing things your way. Think about that.
Don’t lose hope! There ARE some things you can control that will give you the results you are looking for. Such as:
Ultimately I could choose to get mad and have an unnecessary 30 minute argument with my brother about the lawn, or I could just trust that he will do it. Yes, I know it’s not that easy. Yes, I know it’s probably going to give you slight anxiety until it’s done, but you will find that if you let it be, you will be happier.
Your own actions.
I could get out of bed in the morning and, before I’ve had a chance to pee, I could wake the boys up, get them dressed, take the dog out, feed the dog, make Dex breakfast, stay on top of Vince to get ready, pack Vince’s lunch, freak out because I need to get dressed - oh wait I haven’t peed yet…. I know this one sounds familiar. This was me every morning at one point and by 830 I was ready to call it a day. Even though we have a really seamless morning routine it’s still a lot of work. You know who could help me - Carlos. And wouldn’t you know that the kids can dress themselves without me standing over them. It’s better to do the morning routine as a team than to be the coach all the time. I saw this on one of my kids’ papers from school - “Many hands make light work” - this is so true.
While there are many unpredictable things in our lives that we cannot control, we can control some things. I can choose to hike every morning because that’s what I want to do. I can choose to take up a hobby I enjoy because that’s what makes me happy. Maybe I’ll go back to school because I want a career change. These types of things are for ourselves, therefore we can control them.
The past couple years I had to adjust to bonus mom life, adjust to a new place, find a different job, make new friends, and create a home I could be happy in. I lost myself in all this. I became someone who lived to make sure everyone else was happy, all while convincing myself that this would make me happy too. Learning to step back and share the driver’s seat has made a huge impact on my sanity. Now I’m trying to take back a little selfishness and take care of myself. If I am not a strong foundation for myself, then I cannot hold more. As I said before, no one has ever died because they didn’t do things my way. Life should be enjoyable - you can make it that way.
Picture by Pablo Garcia Saldana.