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It seems to be a part of human nature for us to want to control situations in our lives and the lives of others.  After all, we want to be helpful, to help others by making sure that situations work out well for all involved.  And sometimes it seems to us that the only way that we can make things turn out okay is by taking over and controlling that situation ourselves.

I see parents do it with their kids in college:  by calling their kid every day and "checking in on them," they make their presence--and their expectations--constantly clear.  That's supposed to "motivate" the kid.  Other parents try to give advice on every topic under the sun to their kids, fully expecting the children to follow that advice to the letter.  This is called micromanaging, though, and it's usually more indicative of the parent's fear of failing the other person than it is of the kid's need for such constant input.

We simply fear being out of control.  We fear watching things and events spiral out of control, harming us and those people we love.  We fear facing a situation in which we have no control, and we fear situations reaching that point, so we try to "make sure" that nothing in our lives ever gets that far.

This fear, though, comes from a lack of confidence or faith in life and in God, whatever you perceive God to be.  Life has been going on for many, many years without our input, and it's been going along fine.  In fact, it seems clear that life has a harder time doing its thing the more we interfere with it.

We're not willing to let the river flow as it will--we want to make sure that we control the amount of water that's flowing, the direction in which it flows, and when it stops and starts flowing.  If we can do that, we can make sure that the river never will overflow its banks, and we can be sure that no one will be hurt by the river.

But the river's not under our control.  Our kids' lives aren't under our control.  My spouse's life isn't under my control, nor is my neighbor's nor my father's or mother's.  When I try to control them and fail at it--as I ultimately must--I'm building frustration and aggravation into my life as well as theirs.

It's admirable to want to save other people pain and suffering and aggravation.  But their lives are up to them, and it's not my responsibility to control them.  I can be there to help when I'm asked for help, but if I interfere without asking, I'm not doing anybody any good at all.

Trying to control life is a losing battle from the beginning.  It's important that we step back and see whether our influence (not control) may be helpful or useful in a given situation, but if we constantly try to make sure that everything turns out fine, we will fail time and time again.  Isn't it important to use our strength and power in situations in which we truly do have influence (in our jobs and relationships, for example, focused on our own actions) rather than in ways that are doomed to be wastes of that energy?


Ask not that events should happen as you will,
but let your will be that events should
happen as they do, and you shall have peace.



Remember this:  When the uncontrollable things or people in our lives
are making us miserable, it is because we allow them to do that to us.
They canít keep us on that roller coaster if we decide to get off.
How do you get off?  By choice, by a decision of your will, by much prayer,
and by the power of Godís Spirit within you.  It takes determination
on your part, but if you donít let God supply the power,
youíre not likely to be able to do it.

Mary Whelchel

The sun will set without your assistance.

The Talmud


If you want to run the show, God will let you.  If you want to pull all
the strings, thatís up to you.  If you want to insist that what you
are doing is the way it should be done, even when you are not
getting anywhere, go right ahead.  God will let you run yourself ragged,
if you choose to do so.  Unfortunately, you may not always be aware that
you are in Godís way. . . . God has no need to prove to you what God can do.

Iyanla Vanzant


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We don't want to give the controls to someone else; we want those
reins ourselves.  We want to get our way.  And we get upset when
things don't work out. . . . When we try to control someone else or
events beyond the scope of our power, we lose.  When we learn to
discern the difference between what we can change and what we
can't, we usually have an easier time expressing our power in our
lives.  Because we're not wasting all our energy using our power to
change things we can't, we have a lot of energy
left over to live our lives.

Melody Beattie

The only way to become less controlling is to see the advantages of doing so.
You have to see that you can still get your way when it's necessary, yet you
will be less personally invested.  In other words, less will be riding on other
people being, thinking, or behaving in a certain way.  This will translate into a
far less stressful way of being in the world. . . . In addition, as you become less
controlling, you'll be a lot easier to be around.  You can probably guess that
most people don't like to be controlled.  It's a turnoff.  It creates resentment
and adversarial relationships.  As you let go of your need to be so controlling,
people will be more inclined to help you; they will want to see you succeed.
When people feel accepted for who they are rather than judged for who you
think they should be, they will admire and respect you like never before.

Richard Carlson
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff--100 of the Best


Control is never achieved when sought after directly;
it is the surprising result of letting go.

James Arthur Ray



Befriending life is less a matter of knowledge than a question
of wisdom.  It is not about mastering life, controlling it
or exerting our will over it, no matter how well intentioned
our will may be.  Befriending life is more about
harmlessness than it is about control.

Rachel Naomi Remen


The control humans have secured over nature has far outrun their
control over themselves.

Ernest Jones


Who overcome by force have overcome but half their foe.

John Milton


Our tendency is to run from the painful realities or try
to change them as soon as possible.  But cure without
care makes us into rulers, controllers, manipulators.

Henri J.M. Nouwen


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We all want control.  We don't just want control over our own lives; we want
control over everyone else's as well.  It would be so much better if everyone
else would just be like us and do what they want them to do.
   "If only they would listen."
   "If only they wouldn't be so mean or foolish."
   We try anger, guilt, withdrawal, criticism--all methods of control to get them
to fall in line.
   You may be able to get away with controlling children until they leave home
or for as long as you pay the bills.  It's a contract:  I'll give you money if you
let me have control.
   That might be okay with employees because you are in charge of their
paychecks.  It's okay with pets because you provide the food and shelter.
   It's not okay with anyone else--friends or relatives:  You can tell them what
you want, you can hope that they get the drift, but you have no control over
what they do or say.
   When you get angry or hurt, check whether you're wishing you had control
over someone.  Peace of mind requires you to let go of that desire.
   Choose acceptance over the illusion of control.
   Let go.  Choose peace.

Jennifer James
Success Is the Quality of Your Journey

If you can't control your peanut butter, you can't expect to control your life.

Bill Watterson
The Authoritative Calvin And Hobbes


Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them
to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.

Thomas ŗ Kempis


You must learn to let go.  Release the stress.  You were never in control anyway.

Steve Maraboli

Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what
you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't.

Life, the Truth, and Being Free


You have no control over what the other person does.
You only have control over what you do.

A. J. Kitt


You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you
select what clothes you're gonna wear every day.  This is a power you
can cultivate.  If you want to control things in your life so bad, work
on the mind.  That's the only thing you should be trying to control.  Drop
everything else but that.  Because if you can't learn to
master your thinking, you're in deep trouble forever.

Elizabeth Gilbert
Eat, Pray, Love

Probably the wisest words that were ever uttered to me.  Came from
a therapist.  I was sitting in her office, crying my eyes out. . . and she
said, "So let me get this straight.  You base your personal
happiness on things entirely out of your control."

Laura Munson
This Is Not the Story You Think It Is

Control in modern times requires more than force, more than law.
It requires that a population dangerously concentrated in cities and
factories, whose lives are filled with cause for rebellion,
be taught that all is right as it is.

Howard Zinn
A People's History of the United States


It's funny, in a human kind of way, how we can convince ourselves
that we're in control at the very moment we are beginning to lose it.

William Moyers

Most of us crave control.  We think we'd find lasting happiness
if only others would do what we want.  But wringing our hands
over their independence won't change anything.  On the contrary,
addressing our own behavior, our own thinking, our own attitudes
can encourage the very behavior we tried to demand all along.

Karen Casey

Being aware of the difference between what we can control and
what we can't is critical for day-to-day happiness.  There is no
point in banging our heads against a wall.  Once we understand
what we can't do, we can then make the most important
decisions about what we will do.

Richard Carlson
Easier Than You Think


We see how, using love as a pretext, individuals seek to control and
dominate.  There are many examples of the forms this domination can
take:  a husband trying to dominate his wife; a wife trying to control
her husband; parents who want to keep their children under their
thumbs; parents who become emotional hostages to their children's
blackmail, etc.  Of course, this is not love, but something darker and
selfish.  Love is used as an alibi to hide our weaknesses
and our emotional dependence.

Happiness One Day at a Time