Here is a fact that all of us control freaks already know: control can actually be a slippery thing. For a while you control everything in your world. You are definitely in the driver’s seat. But after some time passes, it starts to control you.
How do you know if this has happened to you? There are some really good, reliable clues such as tension, anxiety, headaches, stomach issues, feelings of overwhelm and helplessness, etc. And depression can often be the dark enemy of those who feel their lives are out of their control.
As an A-Type personality, I know all about this. You see, I learned from the master, my mother, at a very young age. I already had her genes, and I soon also developed her habits. (She loved to clean things with toothbrushes.) But then I took it a little further. By the age of five, I had learned to take toys OUT of my room and INTO the living room to play with them. That kept my room clean, just the way I liked it. (Although it drove my parents a little crazy.)
Fast forward to my teenage years and I would often sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag with my head between my stereo speakers. This both kept my bed made at all times AND lulled me to sleep at night. (I had to have just the right environment to sleep. This included music and a fan blowing in my face.)
All of this worked fine – for a few years. But then I became an adult.
When I moved out of my parents’ house I discovered something incredible. No one cared what I wanted or how I wanted it. Period.
As life carried on and I developed more responsibilities, it became exhausting trying to control everything in my environment. Husbands, kids and dogs don’t always cooperate with house tidiness, bosses don’t necessarily care if you want the holidays off, and people on the street are sometimes jerks – and no one will make them apologize to you, either.
And there is nothing you can do about it.
SO WHY KEEP TRYING?
This is SUCH a simple concept, but I am embarrassed to say that even with a degree in psychology, it took me years to get it.
My husband, on the other hand, was born with this concept pre-stamped on his brain. He categorizes everything as “something I can do something about” and “something I can’t”. Can you even imagine how simple this makes his life?
For the first few years of our marriage, I would sometimes get upset because he was NOT upset. How could he not care enough about this to get fired up about it? Looking back now, I realize he was on the right path all along.
I have finally learned to stop being a control freak and let life happen. This could only occur after I gave up the need for everything to be perfect in my life. But when I finally did that – It felt as if I took this massive weight off my head and set it on the ground beside me, then just walked away.
Here is how I did it:
First, I learned to categorize things like my husband. It takes only seconds to categorize something as important or not, then act on it (or don’t) accordingly.
Second, I write down several things each day that I am grateful for. This really stifled my urge to control everything because I could see how many things were already going great.
Third, I engage in daily meditation. I know you have probably heard or read about this, but I will reiterate it: meditation will change your life. It calms your mind and body, releases stress, and pushes your mellow button. It is very difficult to feel like a control freak in that condition.
Fourth, I made the conscious decision to let things be not perfect. All that need for control and perfectionism was not making my life better, so I decided it was time to change the way I was handling things.
So now there are days that my bed doesn’t get made, the kitchen sink stays stacked with dirty dishes, and our Yorkies make friends with the dust bunnies living under the furniture. And sometimes I’m late for an appointment, an inconsiderate person cuts me off in traffic, and our gutters are overflowing with leaves.
These sort of things will probably continue to happen in the future.
But everyone at our house is happy and healthy. What else could I possibly want or need?