226: Understand This Tricky Paradox of Control In Order to Improve Your Life

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #226~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify Imagine you are walking upon a balance beam in a gymnastics center. Imagine your core is tight, your shoulders are back, your chin is parallel with the beam and your legs are engaged. And your eyes are focused not down, but at your desired destination – the […] Listen now or continue reading below.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #226
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Imagine you are walking upon a balance beam in a gymnastics center. Imagine your core is tight, your shoulders are back, your chin is parallel with the beam and your legs are engaged. And your eyes are focused not down, but at your desired destination – the end of the beam. 

In this moment, you are engaging your full body and mind. You are breathing deeply and steadily. You are keeping your heartbeat calm and external noise and distraction is being ignored. With each step, it is thoughtful, it is with intention and your posture reveals confidence, yet ease. 

In good time, you reach the end of the beam without any significant wobbling.

I share this image with you because the key to control is to let go of trying to control it all. More precisely, the key to control is to recognize the only detail you can control is yourself, and everything outside of your being needs to be relinquished. The weather, the words and behavior of others, the outcome of a vote, whether someone – a boss, a potential friend, a date – will choose to return our call or offer us a job – is beyond your control.

So often we expend an enormous amount of time, worry and energy on trying to control others and outside circumstances that we no longer have energy to tend to what would make the most significiant difference – our emotional being, our mental muscles, etc. 

One of the few sports that is purely within the hands of the athlete as even the weather is not a factor is gymnastics. There are others such as swimming and figure skating, but today I’d like to use gymnastics because we’re talking about balance without any accoutrements. It is purely the body and the mind working together.

Knowing what is in our control is important to navigating daily events that we cannot predict. 

  • How much you express appreciation verses complaining and worrying
  • Knowing your emotions and why you feel them – check out Dr. Gloria Wilcox’s Feelings Wheel to narrow in on the specific emotion. (I talk more about how to use this wheel in the audio version of this episode).
  • Come to be aware of what triggers positive and negative responses. (Again, use the Feelings Wheel to understand why.)
  • Recognizing when you want to react and knowing when it would be best to instead not respond when requires of you to take some distance, collect your thoughts and then engage if it is necessary.
  • Understand what drains you
  • Understand what refuels you
  • How you manage your time
  • How you take care of your health – food, exercise, and mind
  • What you choose to learn and seek out per your curiosity
  • Decide to show up in a way that you feel proud of
  • Invest time into developing skills that will improve the quality of your life you wish to strength – relationships, communication, a technical skill, a social skill, a new craft that engages your interest
  • Solidify a way to move healthily through tense moments – do you forgive or do you harbor anger, do you move forward or do you remain in the past and stew?

When we understand that we cannot hold on tightly, but instead need to exude clearly our boundaries, but also the peace we have with ourselves, we free ourselves from worrying about being hurt by a partner, mistreated by a boss, or ignored by a child. 

There is no guarantee that we won’t be hurt, that people won’t disappoint us, but what it does do is put the ownness on each of us to front-load. What I mean by front-loading is we need to step into any relationship, situation, community, etc. without assumption of how others will behave. Instead we need to step forward with a clear understanding of how we will handle ourselves, how we will invest in building relationships, how we will invest in strengthening our mind so that when our thoughts are swirling, we can recognize this and understand we were triggered and now is not the time to speak, or conversely, I am prepared, I am calm and I am ready to speak with clarity and confidence knowing that not everyone will agree, but I shared what you feel needed to be known (just as an example).

Losing our balance will occur even to those of us who invest in controlling what we can and letting go of what we cannot. In those moments, we need to not blame the circumstances so much as our ability to be ready to handle it. For example, if we have said “yes” to too many events this week, and the seventh of seven outings during the week finds us short-tempered, exhausted and/or hyper-critical of others, if we are in tune with our emotions, if we know the difference between being well-cared for (self-care), we need not blame anyone outside of ourselves. This is just life’s way of reminding us that we need to be conscious of our needs, understand the importance of saying no out of not only self-preservation, but self-care so that when we are involved, we can do so well and add a positive contribution. And when we model this, we help those that look to us care for what they have control over as well and not project their frustrations and exhaustion onto others. 

When we burden others with the responsibilty of making us happy, we are being unfair to them. But on the flip-side when we take responsibilty for developing the skills we can finesse so that we can enjoy our days and thus our lives no matter what is going on around us, we strength and put at ease those in our lives and model how to weather difficult patches as well as savor the goodness that life wants to share with us each and every day.

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Petit Plaisir:

~My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander

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6 thoughts on “226: Understand This Tricky Paradox of Control In Order to Improve Your Life

  1. This week’s petit plaisir is right up my alley. I love starting my days early, when the world is still dark and quiet. I’m usually up between 5-5:30 – weekends too – and either getting in my workout or sitting quietly with my dogs, a book, and some espresso. I’m rarely in the office before 8:30, and it’s worth it to me to have that time for myself in the morning.

  2. What a refreshing reminder of what is and isn’t in my control. It’s fitting as just this weekend I came up with a schedule of how I would make my day work. This schedule means I’m taking my lunch break and I get home on time to walk my dog. I find I’m at my best in the morning. Everyday starts with yoga and meditation followed by a delicious breakfast and a calm getting ready for work. By starting the day off with the things I love means I can give and be present for those I come in contact with.

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