In the course of twelve hours I had three conversations with three different people about control or the lack there of. During each conversation all the people uttered the phrase “I have to let it go” as in they had to learn to do that. Face it, control is a bossy bitch and she knows where you live. Letting go of trying to control things, especially things you have no control of is a scary, heart pounding exercise that is a test of wills between you and well, you. I know logically I have control over how I react to whatever happens around me, but I would prefer to have control of all things and all people I come into contact with. Clearly I don’t otherwise I would be Oprah. I do not have control over anything other than myself, not what happens but how I choose to react to it. I am convinced what happens is controlled and put into play through a game of craps in a back room somewhere in the universe filled with the eager and the aimless, mooks, malingerers, sketchy dudes in cheap sun glasses talking to tiny tee-shirted dog purse girls and a one eyed cat named Weinstein.
With that image in mind I can take a breath and release the notion that I can hurry traffic along, make my family and friends read the artfully scripted lines I have crafted for them or hit those damn mega million lotto numbers. What I can do is let it go, whatever ‘it’ is at the moment and look around to see what opportunity I have been overlooking because I am playing a game of ‘what if’ in my head. Just acknowledging I need to take a breath and pick up my head is a start. As frustration builds with any given situation here are a few very good questions I ask myself.
What do I want?
What do I need?
What do I feel?
Those three questions are a good way to take my temperature to what is going on. Then I can look at what I have control over in the situation and work with that. Again if I want someone to do or say something different than they are doing it that is not under my control. I can either remove myself from that situation or look at what is tweaking me about someone else’s behavior. If my reaction is bigger than the action at hand it means my reaction is attached to something else and I need to look at what is triggering it. There is usually a steamer trunk of baggage attached. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction whether it is hitting a ball or reacting to a loved one’s remark.
Letting go of controlling outcomes, others expectations and actions, my expectations, and sometimes-old belief systems that no longer serve can be freeing. It can also give that horrible free fall feeling of when you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat feeling as well. Having enough confidence that I can usually get out of any trouble I have managed to get into helps. So does uttering the phrase, “what the f@*&” strangely enough. There can be something magical about a well-placed cuss word. It also helps to remember that whatever the drama or issue I can take a step back and take a breath to see if it is something that will matter in 24 hours, a week, a year or be a deathbed regret. Having lost more than a few loved ones at very young ages gives me a better perspective of what is important. It is easy to lose that focus in the midst of trying to make something or someone behave a way I feel like I need to though. As soon as I start to realize my breath is becoming shallow, my head is buzzing without coffee, and I am doing mental gymnastics that would make a double jointed, seventy-two pound, nine year old Korean Olympic hopeful weep, I know I am out in the weeds.
Taking that breath, mumbling profanity, laughing at the utter nonsense that I can control anything other than perhaps mastering the art of making the perfect cup of tea is fiction. I am ok with that; I hope to do more with less this next year. So less prep work on the ‘what if’ plan and more walks, less replaying old conversation to figure out what that inflection on the last word really meant and more just asking for clarity. Knowing that if someone wants me to do, or know something they will tell me. I am not responsible for anyone’s but my own happiness and can trust everyone else will do as they choose or not. So this year it is a plan of more fun, more curiosity, more movement, more laughter, more stillness, and more love. All of this more can be achieved with less control, yep that’s right letting go. Go figure….