Posts Tagged: control problems

Taking Back the Control in Relationships

Good Morning to the Shiniest Stars in my Universe!

I received a lot of feedback on the last post about when things in life seem out of your control. It must have hit a nerve, (wha??? life feeling out of control?? Never!!) so let’s dig in a little more.

Relationships have the power to uproot our hidden control issues. You know, like the way your spouse drives the car, loads the dishwasher and disciplines the kids. It’s not the way YOU would do it, and you may even feel compelled to comment on it (No, not you!!) How do you feel when your teenager walks out the door looking like she just got out of bed (because she did)? or your husband spends a bunch of money without you knowing (no, that never happens)? Or your co-worker throws you under the bus during a meeting (with the boss)? How do you respond to these assaults to your better self?

The better part of you wants to give people freedom to feel how they need to feel, do what they need to do, and be who they need to be. You want that freedom for yourself, and you want to give that freedom to the people around you. 

But what if the way they live out their freedoms causes you pain, embarrassment, or hardship? What if the way they live out their freedoms, takes some of yours away?

This is the rub, isn’t it? When do we respond, and when do we let it go? When do we stand our ground, and when do we step aside? When do we exert control, influence and power, and when do we give it up?

These are tricky questions that I don’t have figured out all the way. What I can tell you though, is that answers are in the relationship. Instead of distancing ourselves from the people who hurt us, we must first draw closer in to the relationship. By confronting difficult conflicts, asking the right questions, and pursuing understanding, we send the message, “This  relationship is important to me and I want to strengthen in.”

Your teenager’s bad breath, bed hair and dirty sweats aren’t the problem. It’s the embarrassment you feel when other people see her. Your husband’s surprise spending isn’t the problem, it’s the betrayal you feel that you weren’t included. Your co-worker’s statement isn’t the problem. It’s the fear you feel that he may be right.

Embarrassment, shame, betrayal and fear all are feelings inside of you that you can deal with. Once you recognize the feelings inside of you, you have the choice how you will respond to those feelings.Trouble happens when you try to control the people in your life (external) instead of the feelings inside ourselves (internal.) People are not for controlling. People are for loving. 

Relationships are for keeping. Bonds are for strengthening.

We try to control others through lecturing, pouting, yelling, nagging, withdrawing, punishing, and labeling. We falsley believe that our world will fall apart when we give up control of other people. But the opposite is true. Once we give up trying to control others, we free them and ourselves to be who they truly are. We allow God to have His way inside of us, and inside of them.

This doesn’t mean you should stop setting limits, boundaries or expectations. It just means that you won’t get so bent out of shape when someone expresses his/her will, feelings, or needs. You accept them where they are at. You accept the world as it is, not as you want it to be.

This “acceptance” stuff is not easy. It requires God-sized strength. Recognizing that God wants to change our “internal situation” before he wants to change our “outside situation” is brutal. But God knows that the power comes when the inside is changed, not the outside. God knows that real happiness is possible in our internal world regardless of what is going on in our external world.

Controlling people is so… yesterday. Today is your day to focus on controlling the insides instead of the outsides. When you do, you’ll find that you communicate your needs, boundaries and expectations much better. You’ll find that your relationships get stronger instead of more distant.

For instance, to your scroungy teenager, you’ll say, “Oh geez, I’m feeling pretty embarrassed to be seen in public with you. I realize that’s my problem, and I will handle that. But I want to talk to you about this when we get home. I want to understand why the changes?”

With your spouse, you’ll say,”I’m so hurt that you spent that amount of money before talking to me. I want us to be partners, but when you do that, I feel unimportant.”

With your co-worker at the meeting you’ll say, “Boy, that’s not the way I see it. My experience of what happened is this…”

The hardships you face are meant to bring you into a surrendered relationship with God, yourself and others. Once you face the problem feelings inside of you, you will be able to decide with confidence how to respond to those conflicts with others.

Help for When Things are Out of Your Control

Hello friends! The topic of “Control” has come up in my life lately-  like changing the things we can control, letting go of the things we can’t, and knowing precisely where the line is between the two. These words are easily repeated in the serenity prayer and oh so hard to carry out. Here are a couple of examples where control becomes an issue for all of us.

Sickness. If you’ve ever suffered with a life altering illness, you know that the line between control and surrender is blurred. How and what kind of treatment should you pursue? When is it time to rest and when is it time to fight? What behaviors are driven by fear and what behaviors are driven by wisdom?

Kids sports. Your kid’s sports are supposed to be fun learning opportunities to improve skill and ability. But you know and I know that watching your kids from the bleachers can be an overwhelmingly powerless feeling. You are powerless over their safety, their attitude, their performance, their coach’s decisions, or the other kids on the team. How much pushing is ok? And what if they get benched or get a concussion or get ignored by their coach? When should you step in and how? How much control should you exert?

Unemployment. You try and you look and you interview and you ask around. You submit resumes and queries and then you wait. You feel completely powerless over the “when,” the “what,” or the “how.”  When is it time to give up and re-tool? How much pestering should you do? There are so many things out of your control, it’s nearly impossible to control your insides. 

The Paradigms we hold affect the way we handle powerless feelings and situations that are outside of our control. The most important decisions in our lives depend on where we draw the line between what we can control and what we need to let go.

Take a look at the differences between a Controlling Attitude and an Attitude of Letting Go. The more you can control your inner life, the less out of control things will feel in the outer life.

In every situation that feels outside of your control, take a look at your paradigm. Where can you give yourself a voice, some strength, some options? You are more powerful than you think, because God’s strength is always there for you. Force that strength through the funnel of love- love for yourself, God and for others.

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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