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Releasing The Illusion Of Control

Jun 1, 2004
It's amazing how easy it is to convince ourselves that we're in control of everything in our lives. When it comes right down to it, what we eventually learn is that we are in control of only two things: our own thoughts, and our own actions. We can fool ourselves into thinking that we can control our spouses, children, friends, employers, etc. But are we really in control? We can plot, manipulate, connive and cajole in order to get our own way, but ultimately the other person makes their own decision. We didn't force anything to happen. We may have encouraged it, but we didn't cause it.

For most of us, our attempts to control the people and situations in our lives don't come from pettiness or greed. Most often, it is pure fear that drives us. If we can't control what our loved ones do, they might hurt us, reject us, betray us or abandon us. Handing our heart to someone on a silver platter is a tremendous act of faith and love. If by chance that heart gets tipped onto the ground and trampled, it's a feeling we don't forget easily. Once we've been betrayed, it is very difficult to trust again. We don't want to experience that sharp pain again, so we try to control the situation and prevent it from happening again. But we cannot control the actions of another, no matter how desperately we might want to.

It's important to differentiate between control and power. Just because we are not in control of our loved ones, does not mean we are powerless in our relatioships. When something happens that is out of our control, we are then faced with a decision. How do we react to this situation? What do we want to do about it? While we couldn't control the actions of the other person, we can control our own actions and responses.

That's the problem for many of us, we're trying to control the wrong things. Remember the Serenity Prayer?

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

If you continuously find yourself struggling with the circumstances of your life, perhaps a little introspection might help you decide if you're trying to change things that are out of your control. If you can shift your focus a little bit and concentrate on the things you are in control of, it can have a domino effect in the other areas of your life.

Release your fear of powerlessness. You are not powerless. You actually have much more power than you realize. Power over your own fears and emotions - which by the way, are usually what get us into the most trouble.
Knowing that you are never truly a victim in your life can be tremendously freeing. Remember that you always have a choice.

Releasing the illusion of control can be frightening, but remember that it's an illusion. You were never in control of these things to begin with. You just tried to convince yourself that you were.


Nov 11, 2004
I liked that article because it is very true. Fear is what drives us to do things that would hurt ourselves and others. Or struggle with fear is a lifelong one and it is one that will take humans a long time to try to get over. Or...maybe not get over, but perhaps to not let fear control us. That's basically what it boils down to.


Jul 8, 2005
dorset uk
I am ninety-five and experience has taught me two things first it is the quality of life which counts and second is that sheer luck plays an important part in what we can do and what is really important.

Our quality of life largely depends on what we 'briing to the table' our personal values (habits of thinking about ethical matters) which largely decide which options we take. Not entirely because when emotions are involved (as they are with most inter-personal relationships) our more logical thoughts tend to be over-powered. It is those personal relationships which largely determine quality of life and we need to work at maintaining them and extending them as much as we can.

For many their religion provides a useful guide to the best social behaviour. Most of the main religions call for tolerance of others views and behaviour but there must be a limit even to that virtue because some behaviour is so anti-social that it cannot be tolerated without a risk to the cohesion of the group. Just where the line should be drawn varies according to the consensus in each group. Where groups migle such as inevitably happens with migration then tricky assessments have to be made and in some cases the interaction of differing values will almost inevitably lead to conflict. The degree of such conflict will depend on the wisdom of the leaders of the groups and the size of the group.

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