ARE WE REALLY IN CONTROL?

[Image via First Baptist Church Los Alamos]

What would you do if you came to learn that you have control over everything in your world? Would you rejoice? What if you learned that you have control over nothing? How do you think your feelings would change?

Well, I have come to accept that I have control over both everything and nothing. You are probably wondering how I can have control over both.

Control, the power to direct or determine the script of our lives, is something that most of us seek. Having a sense of control empowers us. When we sense that we don’t have control, we can end up with the feeling that everything in the world is random, thus creating a sense of powerlessness.

A key step toward understanding the concept of control is to first determine what we can and cannot control. Since I believe the mastery of most things comes through achieving balance, I accept that I control both nothing and everything.

  • I control NOTHING that originates outside of myself.
  • I control EVERYTHING that originates from within.
It is very important to know our scope of control because we expend tremendous amounts of energy as we go about our lives. Continuous non-productive expenditures of energy will eventually deplete our inner resources, leaving us susceptible to the ills of stress. We should, therefore, seek to focus our efforts where we can realistically affect an outcome.

Learning to relinquish control of the events for which we don’t actually have control is an important step toward inner peace and health. When we expend energy on things that are outside of our scope of control, not only do we have a sense of powerlessness, but we also create a situation which invokes stress due to the extended effort to find control. Letting go of the desire to control uncontrollable things keeps us from focusing on things for which we have no control, and places the focus on the things that we can.

I can control:

  • How I act
  • How I react
  • How I interact
How I act includes all the actions I choose to take, including the words I choose to use. How I react simply refers to how I choose to perceive and respond to external events. How I interact refers to how I relate to others and the environment.

Knowing what we can and cannot control is essential because as we go about life, we are constantly faced with a commingling of controllable and uncontrollable events. For example, I have control over what I give, but not what I receive. However, when something is offered to me, I have control over how I react to it, as well as whether I will accept it. Focusing on the controllable aspects of this interaction fosters a sense of empowerment, positively affecting my overall sense of control.

The lesson here is to free ourselves from the burden of trying to control the uncontrollable. In other words, control our desire to control. Learn to either accept or let go of the things for which we have no control so that we may focus our energy on more gratifying pursuits.

Do you notice a pattern within yourself of trying to control the uncontrollable?
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14 thoughts on “ARE WE REALLY IN CONTROL?

  1. T. Lewis says:

    I can really identify with this jounal posting of control. It is a world-wide human issue that we are all faced with on a daily basis. Going forward with the concept of balance, and in effect placing control/non-control in this equation, results in the true presence of peace of mind. Consequently, in my world, peace of mind is priceless. Thanks for another truly inspiring journal input.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment :-)

      I agree with you regarding the value of peace of mind. I think we should do whatever we can to foster peace in our lives, and one thing that is certainly within our control is our own thinking. Whenever we discover habits that are not conducive to that end, we should work to correct it. I work on this daily.

  2. Himanshu says:

    Well! We say “I am controlling,” but sometimes I feel we just pretend to control something but in real, something or someone is controlling us within or outside. But anyway its very nice written. Enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing. Keep posting.

    • I can understand your feeling, Dev. Sometimes it seems that many things are controlling us. It’s worth it to take the time to identify what it is that we CAN control versus what we cannot, and then focus our efforts on it. Thank you for reading and commenting :-)

    • Hi, Nayla. I’m glad that you found it thought-provoking. Even if people don’t agree, I love when something can at least challenge our thinking. Thank you for reading :-)

  3. Great Blog! I love this post :D
    It is true that people seem to get wrapped up in controlling what they can’t control, and it’s such a simple yet ground-breaking thought, to realise that we can only control what comes from within. Good insight.

  4. I truly enjoyed reading this post. This sentence resonated for me:

    Learning to relinquish control of the events for which we don’t actually have control is an important step toward inner peace and health.

    I strongly agree. Without a doubt, change comes from within and struggling to attempt to control externals which are entirely beyond our control is futile and harmful.

    I am a Buddhist and I know my attachment (craving desire within) to witness or to be a part of specific outcomes, as well, as my aversion to other outcomes is the cause of unhappiness within me. I know that when I attempt to control matters that are beyond my control I affect others in harmful ways too. But when I accept what I cannot change and go deep within in I enable myself to focus only on changing what I can, i.e. my thoughts, my words, my actions. Only then can I empower myself to accept the truth reality presents me with. Through meditation I can quiet my demanding monkey mind that seeks to control and transcend it. Then I can stop the craving to have things go my way and experience deep and abiding peace. I extend that experience by remaining mindful in my everyday life. I consciously choose to be graciously accepting of the things I cannot change, and empowered by the reality that I am changing the only person I can – me.

    Thanks you for this post. I appreciated the sentiments expressed in it very much.

    • Thank you, Timethief. That sentence was the one single lesson that has changed my overall outlook and the way I manage the events in my life. The moment I stopped focusing on uncontrollable external elements, I felt a sense of peace – which is why I used the word “burden” to describe it. I embrace the truth that both happiness and suffering comes from within, so there really is no reason for me to exert so much effort on trying to control what originates outside of myself.

      I’m glad you identified with this post. Thank you so much for reading :-)

  5. This post is gold. Really. It almost seems like there is nothing else to write about because of how important this is. I can see the fruits of your deep thinking and analyzing skills. I’ll be thinking about this, thanks!

    • Thanks, Steven! As I mentioned in my response to Timethief, this is something that has made a significant difference in my life. I’m pleased to see that it resonated with you, also.

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