The Control Paradox

Feb 09, 2022

The Funny Thing

The things you can’t control, what’s going on around you, dementia, what other people say or do, schizophrenia, and the weather are things you can’t control.

But those are often the things you get the most stressed out about. You usually can’t control whether you get sick, injured, or abused. Those things are either outside of you or happen to you.

Seriously, I had a patient that was the ultimate health foodie, gardener, exerciser, and happy person, and she had a stroke.

Those are things you can’t control. Worrying and freaking out about them is pointless.

Here’s what you can control:

  • What you think about your loved one(s). 
  • How you feel about your character. 
  • How you act and behave. 
  • The results for you.

But most of us don’t even notice most of our thoughts, can describe how we feel, or see that our actions result from our emotions.

Some people believe that we should control our feelings and not let them guide our actions. But they eventually will after the willpower droops and the motivation puffs away. It’s our emotions that carry us and create our behavior and results.


What That Means for You

You create your life uniquely and powerfully. Your ability to control your outcome, no matter the circumstance, is your gift in this life. You get to decide who you want to be.

Victor Frankl was a WWII Holocaust prisoner who noticed that some of the guards risked their lives to be kind, and some of the prisoners were nastier and meaner than any of their captors. Same circumstance, different personal outcomes for each man.

But many of us believe our life is beautiful one moment because we’re lucky or the sun is shining, and miserable the next because we have rotten luck, and the wind picks up just as our birthday party at the park is getting started and it starts to pour. 

Yes, there will be challenging people and circumstances, maybe even limiting. Physical roadblocks can halt our external freedoms.

But you are never powerless when it comes to your thoughts, feelings, and behavior in any circumstance. 

You always have control over your thinking, emotions, actions, and results. It’s true that many of your thoughts come unbidden into your consciousness, but you get to decide whether to keep them or not. Try them out for a bit, and if they make you miserable, ditch them.

This practice is incredible because if you don’t like the results you’re getting in your life, you can change them by changing you

What Do You Want?

How do you want to act when the going gets tough?

  • Will you help people or wallow in self-absorption?
  • What do you want to create, and what do you want to let go?
  • Do you want to make money, travel the world, learn to windsurf?
  • Can you be happy with your body just as it is?
  • What are your fondest dreams and hopes?
  • How do you want to nurture your relationships?
  • Do you know how unconditional love feels?

I don’t think any of us do, and we’re all at different places on our path to unconditional love, but it’s something most of us want.

Maybe it isn’t something you need or want, and that’s okay. Maybe you just want a dog. Oh wait, that IS unconditional love.

Even you cat people know dogs are balls of exuberant puppy love. Or maybe you want a cat. Or a turtle.

Perhaps pets aren’t in your vocabulary since it’s challenging to leave town. Do you want to become a painter or start a non-profit? Whatever it is you want, you have the power to create a dream and strive for it.

Some dreams never come to pass. But thinking about them is glorious. How do you want to feel right now? Can you imagine living your dream?


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