Are We Really in Control?

What would you do if you were granted the power to control 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 direction of our lives, is something that most of us seek. Having a sense of control empowers us. Conversely, when it appears that we don’t have control, we may begin to feel 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. Stated more clearly:

  • 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 live our daily 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 on circumstances for which 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 emotional 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 interpret 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, we should control our desire to control. Learn to either accept or let go of the things for which we have no control so that we can focus our energy on more gratifying pursuits.

Personal Reflections:

  • Do you notice a pattern within yourself of trying to control the uncontrollable?

*Image: Aleksan Ghojoyan

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