Controlling – Mind
Have you noticed how mind out of habit jumps to control people or situations that are best left alone, even if temporarily. The mind wants to control the weather, the traffic, the direct reports, spouse, kids… It even wants to control itself – nonsensical but true. And in the process it creates resistance, conflict, broken relationships and unhappiness.
For Least Resistance – Ask, Where Do I Have Leverage?
The real challenge is to discern when having control helps and when it gets in the way. When do we have control over circumstances and when they are (at least temporarily) beyond our control? This is elusive but really important. In a recent coaching session, a rising leader who had successfully implemented a number of important initiatives for his organization, seemed frustrated by the “slow” pace of transformational changes he wished for. He was contemplating leaving. It was not until he recognized that rather than pushing for the speed of change (that seemed outside of his control), where he really had leverage was in creating trust. The more trust he built, the more senior executives supported his initiatives and the more things moved his way.
When Giving Up Control, Is Getting Control
There are times that giving up control may just be the right thing. For instance if we over control our direct reports, we may become autocratic, micro-manger and develop a command style of leadership that can stifle creativity and motivation.
To be a controlling parent or spouse leads to poor relationships. While one may need to exert some control on their children for their own protection and safety, however, as they grow up one would like to transfer that responsibility back to them, if not, we could come to be seen as over bearing and too protective.
We may want to control our food intake to avoid over-eating. We may want to control our workload to prevent burnout and while driving we want to control our speed to avoid speeding tickets.
Similarly, at nighttime when retiring to bed, we may choose to control the light, the temperature … to prepare an environment conducive for rest. To enter sleep though we need to loosen up and let go – no amount of controlling or pushing would help. They would actually produce the opposite effect. It is much like learning to float on the surface of the water and learn to swim. By letting go of control and struggling, we naturally rise to the surface. In martial arts it is often taught to let go of any control (mentally and physically) and be totally in a state of spontaneity and oneness with the opponent, as any attempt to control will create tension, physical stiffness and will slow one up. By letting go of control – we gain control.
The World of Emotions – What We Resist, Persists
It is the same with emotions. By letting go of the urge to control or resist and instead being open and curious towards the felt sensation of the emotional phenomenon in the body from moment-to-moment, we allow the emotions to pass through us. Any attempt to control an emotion makes it stick. What we resist, persists. By letting go of control – we get control. From your point of view:
1. What emotion/s do you think precede the urge to control?
2. In what situations letting go of control is gaining control?