Afraid and in control

The more scared we are, the more we need to be in control of everything. The more we need to dominate, and surround ourselves with people who are easily dominated by us. The more we need to have things remain where they are. The more we need to have the last word in every argument or discussion.

The more scared we are, the more against progress we tend to be. Because change scares us – it represents a lack of control. And not being in control can induce panic in the already-scared.

No, it doesn’t work. You don’t get less scared by exercising control over everything in your power. Because control is an illusion. There are in fact very few things in our lives we can actually control. The food we put into our mouths. The time we go to bed. How many hours we exercise. Who we say yes and no to. The clothes we wear. The car we drive.

Think you control all of this? What about when your child gets sick and you spend the night holding her hair back when she throws up every half hour? You don’t control your sleep schedule then. The food you eat? Well, that depends on your budget and the time you have to assemble and prepare what you want. The clothes you wear? Well, at school or at work, your options are limited. As for the time you get to spend exercising, ha! Isn’t it always one of the first things to go when the schedule gets unusually crowded? And for sure you can say no to the boss, but that might come at a steep cost.

So you can’t even control the things you thought you could control. What makes you think controlling other people and how they behave is possible?

Right. But when you’re scared, you don’t see it that way. You think if you can only get it all lined up right, you’ll feel better.

But you don’t.

Turns out there is only one thing we really have control over. It’s how we react to our circumstances. Do we get angry and bitter, or do we realize that some things will always go to hell and we should learn to make our peace with most of them otherwise we’ll drive ourselves insane with fear and rage?

People are fond of quoting the serenity prayer, and it’s a good one, for sure. But even it focuses on control. I’d edit it down to: please give me the strength to react to what I can’t control – which is most everything – with peace, resolve and serenity, that’s it, thanks.

Crab apples

Berries in the sun