One of the major challenges in relationships, especially primary relationships with parents, children, and partners, is to fully accept our lack of control. While we can influence each other, we do not have control over others and others do not have control over us. The only person we have control over is ourselves. So I have come up with a "Relationship Mantra" that I have found very helpful. Say this to yourself when someone is behaving in a way you don’t like or when someone is trying to control you:
"I can't control them, and they can't control me, but I can control me."
Using this mantra reminds you that saying or doing ANYTHING to try to control the other person is a waste of time - things such as blaming, complaining, arguing, fighting, threatening, defending, explaining, teaching, caretaking, withdrawing in anger, the silent treatment, and so on. These behaviors actually end up feeding the very behavior that you don't like.
By saying this mantra, you are also reminding yourself that, no matter how hard the other person is trying to control you, he or she cannot control your thoughts and feelings, and only has control over your actions if you choose to let them by being compliant. If someone is controlling your actions through physical violence, then you need to seek help and find a way out of the relationship.
Let's take a look at what the mantra means regarding controlling yourself, as it means one thing to the wounded self and quite another thing to the loving adult:
If you are operating from your wounded self, then controlling yourself means judging yourself, to get yourself to do things "right," generally with the intent to have control over how others feel about you. This is NOT what the mantra is about! It is also not about controlling your feelings through your various addictions.
- Controlling from your loving adult is about using your free will to choose your own intent each and every moment. This is ultimately what we have control over - our intent to be open or closed, loving or unloving, learning or protected, surrendered to Spirit or trying to control others and outcomes.
When you say this mantra to yourself, you are empowering yourself to let go of spending your energy trying to control how the other person thinks, feels and acts - which is what you can’t control - and instead putting your energy onto your own thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Imagine how much energy is freed up when your focus is on the loving actions you can take for yourself, rather than on how to get the other person to think, feel, or do what you want! How often have you gotten hooked into trying to change the other person, only to end up feeling badly inside? By saying this mantra to yourself, you remind yourself to:
- open to your Guidance:
- bring love and compassion to yourself:
- either move into a true intent to learn, if this is appropriate - or lovingly disengage:
- do a brief Inner Bonding process;
- and then, do something that brings you joy.
I hope you start to practice "The Relationship Mantra" every time you are tempted to react to another's behavior that is touching off your feelings of loneliness and helplessness. Rather than protecting against these feelings with your controlling behavior, you can remind yourself with "The Relationship Mantra" to take loving action on your own behalf. You will be amazed at the changes this brings about in your relationships!
Heal your relationship with Dr. Margaret Paul’s Intimate Relationship Toolbox, a 12-week online course.