Out of Control

The only thing you can really control is how you react to things out of your control.” Bassam Tarazi

Being out of control is extremely difficult for most of us. An unexpected break-up, a child’s emotional pain, a seemingly never-ending difficult financial crisis – situations that make us feel out of control and enormously stressed. Our first inclination is to blame ourselves. We wonder, “What did I do to cause this?” “How is this my fault?” “I must be so unworthy for these things to keep happening to me.” Our negative internal dialog churns and we scramble to find a solution so that we can escape the discomfort and pain. And when we’re done blaming ourselves, we inevitably look for someone else to blame – a spouse, an ex or even the Government. But, thoughts like these only perpetuate our feeling of being out of control. Rather than push against pain, times like these call for greater acceptance. Acceptance of things we simply cannot change. Yet, acceptance is hard for so many of us because we’re stuck playing a tape that in our head that can be as old as we are. Perhaps as a child, we were blamed for things that had nothing to do with us. Maybe we were called a jinx or told that a black cloud followed us around. Whatever our story, most of us turn to that old tape to try and explain away the darkness we might be experiencing. It’s easier for us to blame rather than accept our circumstances because we feel like we must “do something” in order to change them. In reality, the best thing we can do is those moments is control is our reaction. Instead of looking for fault, we can try and trust. We can look for the lesson and wisdom of the moment instead of pushing away the pain. And although it seems counterintuitive, when we lean into being out of control, we feel calmer and more satisfied. Why deliver another blow to our self-esteem, when we can find strength to rise above our challenges.

Weekly Path to Peace: Be out of control.

  • What is your reaction to being out of control? Do you feel physical tension in your body? If so, where? What do you tell yourself when things don’t work out? If your first inclination is to blame yourself, just spend the early part of this week noticing all of the ways you blame yourself or even make others wrong. Notice the discomfort you have with being out of control and the ways you try to exert control over the situation.
  • For the second part of the week, let yourself feel “out of control”. Look for the lessons or wisdom in the moment. Lean into the pain. Remind yourself that things are currently out of your control and that this too may lead to something bigger, greater or more important. Instead of trying to control what is happening, remind yourself to trust that everything may not be as it seems.

As you begin this week, rate your level of happiness, self-esteem and self-confidence on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not satisfied and 10 being very satisfied. Notice where you are Sunday evening after you do this week’s peace practice to see if there is a change.