Our need to control…
We live in a world of seeming chaos and we’re creatures of order. We like order. We like to make sense of things. We want to control things so we’ll know what to expect, so we can predict some kind of outcome. We have thoughts like, “people SHOULD…” do certain things or “people SHOULDN’T” do certain things and it throws us completely off kilter when they react contrary to what we think. We get thrown for a loop when life gives us something different than we expected.
“We live in a world that is beyond our control, and life is in a constant flux of change. So we have a decision to make: keep trying to control a storm that is not going to go away or start learning how to live within the rain.” – Glenn Pemberton
We don’t like uncertainty. We don’t like not knowing. Sometimes it’s even small things that make us uneasy when we don’t know or can’t control the outcome, we worry, we panic, we try to “fix” things. Sometimes we even turn little things into BIG things because of the chatter that goes on in our minds. We tend to go to the extremes in our thinking a lot of the times, especially in regards to our kids! Look at these examples:
My son has a new group of friends. I’m not sure how I feel about them…then we go to extremes – He might join a gang. He might make wrong decisions. This could RUIN his life!
My daughter saw a movie at her friend’s house that we didn’t approve…aka…Great, now she’s been “exposed” to this and it she can’t even UN-SEE it. I have to control what she watches because it could make her violent or negative.
My teen has just gotten up for the third time to refill her plate at our family dinner. She knows she shouldn’t eat that much food which leads to: I have to control what she eats because she might get overweight and unhealthy then she’ll have health problems her entire life.
My son yelled at his younger brother. That’s not okay. Those thoughts take a quick turn to: I have to control his actions and reactions to things because he might turn out to be a volatile person in society.
My daughter got a low grade on her math quiz. Thoughts: oh no! This isn’t good. I have to fix this or she might not get into college later.
Do you see how we go to extremes ridiculously fast? Our brains tend to think in very finite terms. Our teens do something and all we can see is this one outcome so we fear and worry and feel the need to quickly FIX the issue, their behavior, change the circumstance, whatever it is because the world really will fall apart.
Acting this way isn’t Heavenly Father’s plan. Acting this way, controlling, wanting to control the outcome, who does that sound like?
The adversary, right?
Heavenly Father doesn’t think finite or linear. He sees ALL the possibilities. It’s such a blessing that He doesn’t think the way we do. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” – Isaiah 55:8
He knew that we were going to do things on earth. We were going to make mistakes. We were going to make choices that will offer growth, learning, discomfort, negativity. But it can all still lead to JOY. All is NOT lost. Everything is going to be okay.
Step back and have faith in HIS plan. His plan is not born of a need to control but to offer freedom of choice.
This doesn’t mean we stop teaching and just let our teens run wild without direction. No, we’re in family units for a divine reason. Still teach, still love, still offer advice but know that they’re supposed to make mistakes and learn. They’re supposed to learn and gain experience. They’re supposed to experience the full spectrum of emotions – JUST AS WE ARE. Their choices provide US a way to experience the full spectrum of emotions as well – in a way that we couldn’t have experienced otherwise.
There’s a few things you CAN do that will offer you awareness, insight, and relief when these times happen:
Ask yourself these questions:
What am I making this mean?
Are those thoughts serving you? Is there an upside to thinking them?
How do you show up when you think them?
What am I afraid to feel?
What’s the WORST that can happen?
Worst feeling you’ll feel?
Ex: If my daughter gets a bad grade
What am I making this mean? That she may not get into college! That I should have taught her better. That I should have made her do her homework. That if I were a better mom I could have prevented this.
Are those thoughts serving you? No. They’re not helpful. They create FEAR.
How do I show up? Fearful, panicked, like I NEED to fix it. Probably not the most pleasant mother.
What am I afraid to feel? I don’t want to feel like a failure. I don’t want to feel disappointment or regret.
What’s the worst that can happen? That she may not get into college and that I’ll feel feelings.
Look at the worst case: She may not get into college? There’s JC’s that are awesome. So what? There’s also a LOT of highly successful people that didn’t go to college at all.
Worst case feelings? Disappointment, regret – feelings are just vibrations in your body – a FEELING – can you feel a feeling? Can you feel a vibration in your body?
Notice what’s happening in your mind. Notice where your thoughts are going. Ask yourself those questions -there’s so much insight, awareness and hope that can be found when we step back and breathe.
Second thing you can do is BREATHE and decide how you WANT to feel and who you WANT to be – in all circumstances and situations. Decide AHEAD of time so that you’re not REACTING but RESPONDING.
If you decide that you want to feel LOVE. I want to feel loving and be a patient mother. Then if my daughter comes home with a bad grade or whatever news it might be I don’t have to react – I’ve already decided ahead of time how I’m going to feel and who I want to be. Now all I have to do is ask myself, What does LOVE look like here? How can I access love? What would PATIENT mom do in the circumstance?
Responding is much better than reacting. It enables you to be the “agent to ACT and not to ACTED upon” -Elder Bednar
The last thing you can do to feel better, relinquish the need to control, and make this time peaceful for you AND your teens is to just have FAITH. Have faith in Heavenly Father’s plan, the plan that you were 100% on board with and shouted for joy at. The plan that allows agency, free will, and free choice. The plan that has a way back, that offers the divine gift of the atonement of our Savior.
President Monson said, “One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the JOY of trying again, for no failure ever need by final.”
1.)Don’t get to panic – it’s only going to contribute to the problem in the way you show up. Ask yourself questions to figure out what’s really happening in your mind.
2.) Decide AHEAD of time who you want to be and how you want to feel then RESPOND not react. Control the one and only thing you CAN control – YOU. You can control how you THINK, how you FEEL, and what you’ll DO.
3.) Have FAITH in Heavenly Father’s plan. Remember that they’re supposed to make mistakes. They’re supposed to learn.They’re supposed to experience life – just like we do and we’re ALL given the gift of trying again and again and again and again.
“How would your life be different if…you stopped worrying about the things you can’t control and started focusing on the things you can? Let today be the day…you free yourself from fruitless worry, seize the day and take effective action on the things you can change…How would your life be different if…you could control the outcome of your day, your week, your year? Let today be the day….you embrace the truth that you DO have such control to label every event in your life, and create an agreement with reality that empowered you and propels you to greatness.” – Steve Maraboli
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