When my kids were little, I spent a lot of time in the Land of Crazy. It felt like the quality of my days was completely in the hands of my child. Would I get to have any “me time”? Depends on the nap. Would we get to run errands? Depends on her mood. Would I have a good day or bad day? It depends on how happy and cooperative my children are. I felt like I had so little control over how I spent my time. It was exhausting and robbed me of my ability to enjoy myself throughout the day.
I thought I was the only one who struggled with this until I was giving a talk to a room full of pre-school Moms and I showed them a photo of an organized play room. There was an audible sigh throughout the room as Moms fantasized about a beautifully designed toy room with organized bins. (Hmm…interesting I thought to myself. There is a Universal feeling all these Moms are longing for, what is the feeling they yearn for that they think a clean and organized playroom will give them?)
Control gets a bad rap. No Mom wants to be labeled a “control freak” or a “micromanager” but you also don’t want to be “out of control” or “always in control”. However, striving for control isn’t a bad idea. Having control over one’s life is a key indicator for happiness and helps blur the lines between work and play. The problem is, many of us try to control things we have no control over:
1. We argue with reality.
My house shouldn’t be so messy.
I am done with this cold weather.
You should get better grades than this!
2. We try to control other people:
The kids at school need to be nicer to my daughter.
The coach needs to give my son more play time.
My kids need to stop bickering.
My husband shouldn’t watch so much TV.
2. We try to change the past.
You should not have said that.
My Dad shouldn’t have left when I was a kid.
I should not have eaten that entire bag of potato chips.
3. We try to control the future:
People need to realize what an idiot Donald Trump is.
I wish my dog would stop peeing on the carpet.
I don’t want anything bad to happen to my children.
If you are trying to control something you have no control over, you’ll know it because it doesn’t feel good. You get frustrated, angry or annoyed because you are giving away your power. Overtime this leads to a pervasive feeling of helplessness and powerlessness. A big yuck for the human psyche.
The good news is that “gaining control” isn’t as hard as you think. Go to a room in your house that bugs you (my teenage son’s room comes to my mind, yikes!) and pick ONE THING you can take action on. Instead of waiting for someone else to straighten up the shoes, change the lightbulb or hang up the wet towels, make this yours, to own. Don’t take responsibility for the whole house, just create calm by taking responsability for one small. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, go look at your beautiful sock drawer and admire your handiwork. Build on your success by moving to another small area, preferably one that is small but really bugs you.
One thing we always have control over is our MIND. Notice how it feels to think the thoughts above, even if they are true, they create negative emotions in you. Increase your happiness and personal sovereignty by making peace with reality.
“I trust my teenage son to be messy.” “Kids are supposed to leave their shoes everywhere, that’s what kids do.” “I give Donald Trump permission to be an idiot.” “I can teach the dog where to pee.” “I’m pretty reliable when it comes to bingeing on potato chips.” “Girls sometimes are mean, and sometimes are nice.” “People say dumb things sometimes and that’s okay.” “It’s impossible to never be late.”
You can avoid The Land of Crazy by taking control of your actions, your emotions and your mind. Don’t dismiss control because it has a bad reputation. Controlling something you actually have power over feels, well, empowering!