Friday, December 11, 2009

The Illusion of Control

In Southern California, the weather has turned cold. I took a short drive last night and wood smoke permeated the crisp night air. So, I’m sure folks around the U.S. would say 40 degrees is cold?—that’s shorts and tank top weather where I live! Well, be that as it may, when you’re not used to the cold (just two weeks ago it was 85) drastic temperature drops take time to get used to. A lot of things in life take time to get used to. Changing jobs, friends, residence and other things can really feel uncomfortable. But as uncomfortable as change can seem and as painful as it might feel as you’re in the thick of it, know this…without change there can be no growth and nothing new for you to think about, do or participate in. We humans are so funny. We like our $4 coffee, we like our homes to feel like summer in the winter, we adorn ourselves with designer items we cannot afford to fit in with everyone else buying designer items they cannot afford to fit in. We like our lives just exactly the way they are often, including the people in our sphere of existence. We don’t want to change our commute, our routines and the company we keep. We go to great lengths to manipulate and control. Yes, I know…those are strong words but those two tactics are employed by people who do not like change and have been hurt by it. It’s okay, I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. What I’m saying is manipulating and controlling things and people to keep your sense of being okay is just, well, exhausting. The really crazy part is we put so much energy into such endeavors and get very little pay off.

Don’t believe me? Have you ever tried to get the guy going 30 in front of you in a 45 zone to move faster? Your blood pressure starts to go up and then you notice everyone else has boxed you in too. More stress comes to the fore and then what…well, if you keep pushing and keep going trying to manipulate and control your environment in that moment what do you think will happen? Heart attack? Road Rage? Nothing? You could be right on all accounts but one thing is for sure, you’ll expend a whole lot of precious energy and time in negativity with little to no pay out. If there is any pay out at all, it would be only an illusive egotistical boost for a moment that is certainly fleeting and then will create a desire for more ego feeding to feel good. It can be a vicious cycle that goes on in the background mostly unnoticed like the hum of the fan inside your computer.

So, why does any of this matter? Where ya going with this Jaie? Well, here’s my thought. I wrote about this the other day…stress, to me, equates to being in a moment and doing things I really do not want to do…I have a deep desire when I’m stressed to manipulate and control my environment to make me feel less stressed. So, what’s wrong with that?, you might think. Well, we cannot control our environment indefinitely. We can make small strides by intimidating others to cooperate with our desire but that will only ever be short lived because once those folks are outside and away from our intimidation, they’ll snap right back to being who and what they are and maybe wreak more havoc with our serenity again and we’ll expend even more energy to try to re-fix it again! Then we go home to our family or friends grumpy and snappy and not sure why we don’t feel so hot and then hey, maybe the universe in that moment—since you’ve sort of got a negative energy thing going anyway, will decide to leave that little IRS notice in your mail box, a bill you forgot to pay on time or one you did pay on time and got a late charge anyway!

So, like attracts like. Unless you want to get into an argument about magnets…but, if you’re thinking negative thoughts, victim thoughts, etc., the universe delivers more until you cry UNCLE! But it sometimes won’t stop there. Sometimes while the negative things are going on, you’ve got to proactively think positive and trust that things will soon go your way. You have to decide at some point that if your own need for manipulation and control and going about it by struggling with the external things and people in your environment you mistakenly think you have control over is really what is making you crazy and stressed out, it's time to change. What if you knew that alleviating stress was a simple as changing your perspective about what you’re doing or facing? Do you know that takes by far less energy and is much less draining to pull your focus and attention inward to your own thoughts and actions and change them instead? So, you have to pay rent and your job makes you feel bad a lot! You can’t quit but you really hate it. How do you think your days, weeks and months are going to go at that job? Probably not really well. And you might have some measure of success with threats, intimidation, goofing off, blowing people off etc. but that all backfires on you when you least expect it. If you change your attitude and thoughts and accept where you are and what you’re doing, you’re no longer swimming upstream—you’re no longer engaged in something you hate to do and taking that out on people—you’re controlling the one thing and only thing you truly have the power to control—YOU.
Food for thought! Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend.

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