The urge to control everything in my life had been deeply rooted in me. It was innate in me and had its influence on both my personal & professional lives. Although this situation was far from ideal, I took it as it was for a long time. Gradually as I got older, I could see the resulting consequences more frequently.
It is not that I did not know where this characteristic of mine came from. I could see a significant link between my high tendency for controlling and my high level of perfectionistic strivings. I have always strived to do my best for everything. To minimise the chance of things going wrong, I tried to be on top of things. Although I realised that it is impossible to have everything under control, I still wanted to keep things within the lines as much as possible by ruling out external factors the best I can. On a personal level, to maintain the highest quality of life has always kept my desire to control alive. My profession has nurtured my need for control even more. As online marketing consultant, I have been dealing with the dynamics of the digital world since day one. Because everything in the online marketing industry was already fluctuating enough, I have always tried to lay a foundation as strong as possible to ensure growth to client companies by building on experience and data.
There was a day that I broke in tears, because it was all too overwhelming. When on the one moment you try so much to have everything tightly under control & hold everything together but on the other moment the feeling starts creeping in that you are actually gradually loosing grip. I can tell as no other how frustrating this can be. That day was the turning point for me to really start taking concrete steps to reduce my need to control significantly.
I drastically started to cut on the list of things I need to control. I got myself a big piece of paper and just as during a brain storm session, I jotted down everything that popped up in my mind as things I thought I need to have control over. When I finished the list, I went through each item with a red pen. I asked myself two questions: “Does the specific thing on hand bring me added value or happiness? (In other words, is it worth for me to care about it in the first place)” and “What is the worst thing that can happen if I lose control over the object at hand?“. After I have tested every item on these two conditions, I was left with only 8% of what I started with. It felt like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Every time when I feel the urge to control rises, I bring out this paper to tame the control freak in me.
By consciously working to reduce my need to control, I feel that I am now less exhausted and at the end of the day I am left with more energy. I started with this practice around the same time that I was working on my ability to let go of things, persons and situations that no longer served me. These two practices have strengthened each other. Most importantly, they have brought me closer to the realisation of these two principles:
- Everything in life finds its natural inclination. The more you try to interfere with it, the more it will backfire. So just let it be.
- To not have everything in control is what makes life full of unexpected and valuable lessons which you otherwise would not have or to a much lesser extent.
Have you also dealt with a high tendency to control? What did you learn about giving up the need to control? I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time!