But maybe not the way you think…
I’m something of a control-freak. I take over my kids’ projects when they have trouble. I do my husband’s chores when I think it’s taking too long. I yell at other drivers when I’m commuting to work. And when I see someone doing something incorrectly I start to twitch. My fingers flex and it takes quite a lot of willpower to keep myself from grabbing it and doing it myself. Like I said, a control-freak. But does controlling everything around me bring me any joy?
No! Controlling not only takes away my joy, and it causes numerous other problems as well.
My problems with controlling behavior:
- First, when I do everything myself I get crabby. I start to feel like I’m the only one who does anything around the house and I get resentful because no one else is pulling their weight. And I feel this way even though I’m the one who took the chore off of them in the first place! It’s irrational behavior, and takes away my joy.
- Second, when I take over everything I start to feel like I’m responsible for everything. Like if I didn’t keep track of this stuff, it wouldn’t get done. So my to-do list grows and grows until I feel totally overwhelmed. Again, no joy.
- Third, when I do other people’s work for them I’m doing them a disservice. I’m effectively telling them I don’t think they can do it themselves. This steals some of their self-confidence, but the theft doesn’t stop there. I’m robbing my husband of a chance to feel he’s helping out around the house, that he’s contributing. I’m robbing my children of future independence because I’m telling them when things get tough, I’ll step in and fix it. And I’m stealing the chance for all of them to feel proud of themselves for accomplishing something. So not only am I sabotaging my joy when I take over, I’m sabotaging theirs.
So it’s pretty obvious that being a control freak is no good, but like all habits, it’s hard to stop. When I get too crazy I remember a scene from the movie 28 Days. In the scene Viggo Mortensen is trying to teach Sandra Bullock how to throw a strike.
“…When you lock in on the strike zone… …it’s looking about the size of a peanut. And you think, ”Damn. l gotta get that little ball in there?” You’ve psyched yourself right out of the game. The strike zone, the call… …the count, the batter, forget all that. You gotta think about the little things. The things you can control. You can control your stance, your balance… …your release, your follow-through. Think about those little things and only those little things…. You know? l mean…. Because when you let go of the ball… …it’s over. You don’t have a say in what happens down there. That’s somebody else’s job.“
The trick is knowing what I CAN control. I CAN’T control my husband, or my children, or my boss. I CAN’T control traffic. The only thing I CAN control is ME. I CAN control how I treat my husband and kids. I CAN control how I react to my boss and traffic. I CAN control how I think, and squash any negative, self-defeating feelings that crop up. I CAN ask for help if I need it. I CAN present a pleasant face to the world instead of a scowl. And what I CAN do is take charge of my life instead of blaming others for my unhappiness. When I blame someone or something else for my problems I give up all of my control. And when I have NO control I am helpless. And when I am helpless I cannot find joy.
To find my joy I must take control of me. I must take responsibility for what I think and how I act, and I must make an effort to make my life better. Thinking isn’t enough, I need to DO something. Even if it’s just a little thing, like a smile. Just the act of smiling can elevate your mood, and it can be contagious. When you smile at someone else, 9 times out of 10 they smile back, and the good feeling spreads. So today, even if you can’t bring yourself to do anything else, smile. Smile at other people, and if you can’t even bring yourself to get out of the house, stand in front of the mirror and smile at yourself and say, “I CAN do the little things, and little things can change my world.”
My little thing this weekend will be working on my To-do List. I intended to talk about that in this post, but the post got too long and I had to break it up. I’ll post again soon with details on the importance of a To-do List, and maybe an update on how mine is going! Hope you all have a great weekend!