Control Freak

Oh yah, that’s me! Ahead of the pack. Grippin’ the leash. Steady trot. Knowin’ where I’m goin’.

Seriously, our golden retriever, Benji, pulled me along just like that. Back in the day he was in control of walks – and a bit more – like the end of our queen-sized bed. Just holler the word “walk” up the stairs and he’d come tumbling down in a frenzy. Actually our secret code was “w – a – l – k” spelled letter by letter so he won’t know what was up. Frequent use of the code messed up our daughter in first grade. When the teacher asked how to pronounce the word “walk”, she proudly reiterated “w – a – l – k!”

I’m more like Benji than I want to admit. Even as a kid, I wanted to control things like the weather. If a gloomy, rainy day dampened a family outing to Rock Lake, I wilted. When neighborhood roughies vandalized my “dad and brothers made from scratch” playhouse, I was appalled. How dare they pour water and dirt (as in mud) all over my spotless, everything-in-its-place space. Grrr…

Freaking out over stuff really came to the fore after I got married. I absolutely had to get all the cleaning done on Friday night. Zero flexibility! No matter that I was on the job all week but was I going to be caught vacuuming and washing floors on Saturday? Not if I could help it. And hubby? Probably gritting his teeth like that yellow lab and barely hanging on! Finally, one evening on the way to our Friday night pizza joint (and I was talking about the cleaning that had to get done) it dawned on me that I was a workaholic. I needed to be in control of weekly household cleanup done in a certain way, at a certain time.

Any other control freaks out there? Now granted, being organized and seeing details midst the big picture of what needs to be accomplished, has it’s merits. And, boy, has that administrative skill provided success in career endeavors and keeping family life reasonably right side up. But it’s prompted plenty of less than peaceful situations, internally and externally. Talk about stress!

So, what’s helped me ease up or let go a bit of this control concern? Here’s at least two hints.

1. I’m not really in control of anyone but myself. Hard to swallow, I know. As this fact gradually lodged in my psyche over time, freedom emerged. More peace, less stress. Recognizing that control of my thoughts (which precede words and actions) was possible and desirable made a big difference. Defaulting to grumpy, know-how-it’s-done rhetoric was not stirring up happiness vibes, in me or anyone.

2. Get a grip on the truth there will always (as in forever) be people and things that feel out of control. Messy bedroom (my preteen daughter), sink full of dishes, 30-page paper to write, six inch stack of reports to grade, 50 pages of educational theory to read…. There’s always something! I’ve come to own the thought that there is a right time and level of energy for everything I need to accomplish. Yes, I keep a “to-do” list and calendar and there are moments when I just need to stop and make it happen, but overall, I intuitively trust the when and how will be revealed all in good time.

I’d love to hear your “control freak” story or share what’s worked and what hasn’t worked for you. Your turn!!