Trying to Control Makes us MiserableBy Dr. Margaret Paul
April 18, 2011
Are you aware that trying to control what you can't control makes you feel anxious and unhappy?
Have you ever noticed how bad you feel when you try to control things you can't control - such as others and outcomes?
Larry consulted with me because he was often miserable - despite running a successful business, and having a lovely wife and two daughters, whom he adored.
It soon became apparent that Larry was deeply addicted to controlling everything - his own feelings, how others felt about him, how well his employees performed, what his wife did for him, how well his children did in school, and whether or not anyone ever took advantage of him. His primary intent in life was to be in control and not be controlled.
At the beginning of our work together, I informed him that in the Inner Bonding process, there are only two intents to choose from: the intent to learn about loving yourself and others, and the intent to protect against pain, with some form of controlling behavior. Larry could easily see that his intent in life was to protect against pain with his non-stop controlling behavior. He had never linked his misery to this choice. He could see the irony - that, in his attempts to protect against pain, he was making himself miserable.
An Important Question to Ask Yourself...
"Larry, would you be willing to try an experiment? Every time you feel miserable, ask yourself, without any self-judgment, 'What am I trying to control?"
Larry agreed to try this.
In our next phone session, Larry told me, "I think I'm on to something here. I'm amazed at how much I try to control and how bad it makes me feel. I've always believed that my anxiety and unhappiness was coming from something outside myself - my wife, my kids, my business, my employees, my friends or lack of them. I've believed that if only others gave me a lot of attention and did what I wanted, I would feel happy. It's very eye opening to begin to connect my unhappiness with my own controlling behavior. Actually, it's empowering! I think I've always felt like such a victim - others were not giving me what I wanted and needed to feel happy and good about myself."
"Larry, did you become aware of how you try to control your own feelings?"
"Well, I became aware that I am constantly judging myself and that this makes me feel awful. Is judging myself controlling?"
"Well, go inside and ask yourself what you hope for by judging yourself."
"I think I believe that judging myself will get me to do things right and then others will like me."
"So by judging yourself you are trying to have control over your behavior, in order to control others' feelings?"
"Yes, I think that's right. But it makes me feel miserable."
"Would you ever judge your daughters to get them to do things right so that others will like them?"
"Oh no, I would never do that! I never judge them. That's not loving to them… Ah, and I see that it's also not loving to me."
Larry not only learned to stop trying to control himself and others, he also learned, through his Inner Bonding practice, to open to learning with his personal source of spiritual guidance. As he learned to connect with himself and with his source of love and truth, he started to feel full and alive within. His joy and passion for life grew daily as he replaced his self-judgments with self-compassion and gentle caring for himself. Needless to say, his relationship with his wife, children, employees and friends vastly improved as well.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
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Tune into your body and be present with this moment. If there is sadness and loneliness, welcome and embrace it, bringing the love of Spirit to these feelings. Allow them to flow though you and release them to God, then invite in the love, peace and joy that is Spirit.
By Dr. Margaret Paul