How to Control my control?

For a long time, whenever I’ve gotten myself somewhere around some massive cliffs or gorges, surrounded by magnificent rocks that belittled my figure, I felt things. I felt fear and astonishment and awe and horror all indistinguishably mixed.

It’s hard to describe something so powerful. Often an image I had was, when, for instance, I stood below a vast cliff, that it would just crush me. It was as if anything could happen.

Looking back, I understand it was about the feeling of control. As a fan of having things in order I was a bit of a control freak. Faced with enormous sculptures of nature that I could only barely comprehend with my sight, I was utterly control-less around them.

It’s past tense. Not because all of a sudden, I’ve obtained some magic power which allows me to can control natural elements. It’s because nature forced me to awe and be humbled.

Obsession with control…

…it’s an illusion. You are not god, so it is not possible that you could predict or adjust every single detail. They are typically connected to factors way beyond your influence or even imagination. It’s a fear of something going wrong or not according to the plans. But that is always going to happen at some point. You can power it through a bit more chill than you would be if you fixate on things going exactly as you would want them to go.

… is annoying to people around you. You are probably trying to micromanage them, keeping them safe or persuade them about the best possible ways to do things (trips, photos, cleaning, your job, parenting… you name it). They are probably fed up with you by now, and you probably know it.

…its anxiety-provoking because it includes EVERYTHING. Here is the news. You cannot cover everything, clean everything, think of everything. It is simply not possible.

Redefine your perspective

Do you know that decision you’ve made a thousand times about getting some time off, but first you need to clean the apartment? And then the time passes by and you are too tired to do anything joyful? That’s what control does to you. It’s an immersed brake for your joy. It helps you stay miserable.

For me, a wake-up call (no pun intended) was a dream I had. Some lovely people invited me to join them on a nice trip. I was looking forward to it but never attended the trip. I was to busy checking my travel bags and organizing them properly. I never got to the trip and the fun part. I was also never happy with how my bags were organized.

I’m not a believer in sudden radical changes in one’s personality. But ever since this dream I have a good reminder for rethinking my priorities.

What makes you awe?

It’s a weird hack to address control with nature. But letting go a little is something you are most likely to be applying already.

You should stare at the rock. If staring at big rocks induces a panic attack, then find a smaller one. But whatever you do find something that makes you awe. Rocks are my thing, and yours might be water or skyscrapers or whatnot. Awing something big (actual size matters here) reminds you of your tiny insignificance. You are afraid of it, but at the same time enchanting. Embrace that indescribable feeling and go into the humbleness of being small.

Put things into perspective

Neil deGrasse Tyson tried to explain the scale of things in the Universe. In his educational series, he compares the size of the planets to the stars and galaxies and in one moment calls the Earth a small blue marble. Its size is insignificant already to medium-sized asteroids, not to mentions more prominent stars or even galaxies.

Regarding the Universe the whole Earth itself is relatively insignificant, not to mention one simple human life on it. But looking at it from an obsessive point of view, if things don’t go according to plans, catastrophe will happen. Can you toy a bit with this zooming in and out on your problems and the size of much much more important things?

It’s unconventional to try to calm down a control freak by telling them they cannot control things. But that is precisely what needs to be done. That said, proper dosage is essential, due to the previously mentioned possibility of a panic attack.

It’s freeing to loosen up a bit. Here is a comforting thought. Psychologically it is not likely you’ll become entirely out of control, which is probably your more significant fear. There is a scale leading from being a complete control freak to extreme phlegmatic. You can move a bit, but you cannot move all the way. So why not give it a try?