We feel it, we say it, we live it, we affirm it and
we teach it. . . life is stressful, right?
We’re so busy running on life’s treadmill,
worried about our kids, work, finances, world
issues, our health and relationships. Rushing in the
morning to work to meetings and more meetings to
home, tag-teaming or single handedly carting our
kids off to lessons, arenas and rehearsals, barely
catching our breath, living forever under the loud
tick-tock of not enough time. . . . Hurry Hurry. . .
going to be late! being an all too familiar phrase
that comes out of our mouths, and then, back home
for the routine of homework, showers, and lunches and we
flop into bed still wearing our stress suit which
makes it easier to get going in the morning because
we won’t have to change! Wait a minute, did we
Ahhh. . . the stressed-out life!
Oh, and just a friendly reminder, we have the
holiday seasons coming up soon, which some say are
the most stressful times of the year. . . ready to
scream yet? Well that’s probably not a bad idea,
quite healthy in fact, as long as it isn’t at
I’m giggling as I enjoy the funny, playful side of
myself today, despite the dreary dark weather that
is happening outside my window as I write.
remember when my days were just like this and the
stress I created accompanying my frustrations.
finally realized that I only had control over my
behaviours and reactions to others and circumstances
in my life, and no matter how mad I got, how hard I
blamed, criticized, judged or tried to motivate it,
I could not “make” the sun come out on a dark
As a recovering control freak, I can now admit that
it was hard to accept, let alone fathom, that the
only thing in my life that I was in complete control
over was me. I was so busy trying to “make” everyone and
everything outside of me, behave, do and be exactly
the way I wanted or thought they should be in order
for me to be happy or to feel good. I didn’t see
how out of control I was with the very thing that I
had complete control over!
Okay, are you with me so far? Some of you may be
laughing as you have identified your control freak
tendencies already and those of you who may still be
in the closet, denial or aren’t sure where you
stand on the control scale, if you’re ready to
hear it, just ask someone.
I now humbly admit as a parent, by trying to
“make” my children do anything I not only
created my own stress, but also robbed them of
finding the way to take responsibility for
themselves. . . an issue that many parents and teachers
share with me that they struggle with.
I can laugh now, although it wasn’t funny then, as
I conjure up the image of me on one side of the
bathroom door and my son on the other during one of
our shower power struggles. . . or the battle on the
homework front and the cycle of rewards and
punishments for expected grades to make me
proud. . . or when my disappointment in my kids was
evidenced by a condition that I didn’t realize I
suffered from called IROTES (Involuntary Rolling Of
The Eyes Syndrome).
I realized that the angrier and louder I got, the
less they listened and heard. . . the more I nagged,
the deeper they dug in their heels and I finally got
that I couldn’t flip the “take responsibility”
switch to the on position--that was their job.
as hard as it was, I let go. . . let go of control!
If your treadmill and stress level is anything
like mine was and you would like some relief, here
are just few tips. Let go of the things you can’t
control and control the things you can (you!).
a good laugh at and with yourself as you notice the
urge to comment to your daughter, “You’re not
wearing that, are you?” or insist that your son
get his hair cut because you don’t like it or are
worried about what others may think, maybe find
yourself slipping into the sergeant major role of
barking orders; catch yourself before you say,
“Because I said so!” or get frustrated having to
wake your kids up after their alarm goes off. I’ll let you in on a little secret:
have to get up because they know you’ll come in
and wake them, but once they know you won’t, guess
what? They get up on their own! This letting go
stuff is amazing!
We have many areas in our life where we create our
own stress, and even if you don’t have kids, I hope
you join me on the recovering control freak side of
life--it’s a lot more fun and a lot less
stressful for you and others in your life. You
may even have the chance to feel the benefits on the
way home from work tonight as you sit in your car
laughing at the traffic jam that you used to think
you could control!
Ahhh. . . the lighter side of stress!
* * * *
Jo-Anne Cutler is committed to making a difference
in the world as an awareness coach, author and
speaker, giving a voice to millions of children who
are in need. She discovered that, as a mother and
role model, she had continued cycles of unhealthy
behaviours that she was unknowingly teaching her own
children. However, once she became aware of how her
words and reactions impacted them and others in her
life, she made a conscious choice to change.
Awareness is the key to any change and Jo-Anne’s
passion for helping children find their voice and
for it to be heard ignited her vision: to empower
and inspire you to be the parent, teacher and role
model the children of this world need you to be.