I love being in control – having things just right and knowing that they’re going to stay that way. There’s nothing better than the knowledge that if I plan carefully and get the people around me to do things right, everything will go perfectly.
And that is a summation of the illusion of control. The belief that by controlling the people and circumstances around us we can make things work out “right”. And who defines “right”? We do of course. Those of us who love control also believe that our vision is the correct one.
It’s taken me decades to realize the emptiness of that belief. To understand that it’s all an illusion, that we believe things are in control simply because they’re going as we want them to. When things go smoothly, we relax, sitting comfortably in the certainty that our planning and preparation has worked. When things don’t go as planned they’re suddenly “out of control.”
Honestly, it makes me tired just to read this post. All that energy put into trying to arrange the unarrangable. The truth is, while our efforts do contribute to positive or negative results in our lives, we can only improve our chance for success, not guarantee it. Most of us can’t pass a test without studying for it, but we’ve all encountered the unhappy truth that studying alone doesn’t ensure an A.
Pursuing the belief that we can control the universe is distracting, wastes our energy and (take it from me) can be extremely annoying to the people around us. The antidote, I think, is trust. Trust that others also know what they’re doing. Trust that catastrophe won’t befall us if we let go of the reins and let life take its natural course.
And trust in ourselves and the knowledge that if things don’t work out “right” we can handle it.
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