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Podcast Episode 6 – Trying to Control

Apr 1, 2020 | Podcast

Welcome to Episode 6 of the Renew your Mind podcast. I’m your host, Diana Swillinger. Today we’re talking about a popular topic, control we’re more accurately trying to control. Stay tuned. I know this one is going to be super helpful.

DIANA: Hey. Hey. Diana Swillinger here. How are you all doing? I’m feeling pretty great today. There’s a few things I’d choose to be different today, but, you know, that’s okay. I can’t control it all. I’m managing my mind, and I get to feel great still. It’s actually my son’s birthday today. John the one who wrote my podcast jingle. I’ve been listening to him practice piano and clarinet upstairs all day, and I love it. Like I said, one of the perks of him being home from his college classes, I get to hear his music. So happy birthday, John. He says he’s not going to listen to my podcast anyway, but just in case.

Speaking of all the things that are, uh, out of control and my son doing college from home, we’re still in the middle of this coronavirus pandemic. So we’re really aware of a lot of things being out of our control, right?

The spread of the virus is really out of our control. We’re all doing our own part to physically distance and avoid unnecessary contact and work from home and all of that. But still, that’s just what one individual can do. So largely, it’s kind of out of our control for many of us. My husband was put on furlough out of his control. People have been getting laid off out of their control. Some people are working overtime or work is really challenging, and it’s out of control. Business owners were trying to keep up with business issues and keep businesses alive. Customers aren’t buying the same. There’s just so much going on out of our control.

So I think that’s put a spotlight on the situation where we realize things are out of our control. But if we’re really honest about it, even though we’re more aware of being out of our control, the reality is that our desire to control circumstances or other people is kind of an everyday issue. It’s not just when a pandemic is happening, like who gets cancer is out of our control. The weather is out of our control. Criminal activity or the stock market, all out of our control. How our bosses assign projects or who they hire, how they lead us, co worker stuff, how they behave, it’s out of our control. Whether the neighbor keeps his lawn nice or overgrown with weeds, out of our control. How your spouse talks to you is out of your control. Even your child’s behavior. In a lot of ways, it seems like we can manage and control our child’s behavior, but ultimately, out of your control. Can’t do anything about it. If they decide to have a fit and lay on the floor and kick their feet, it’s out of your control. Okay, I’m not going to get too far into the weeds with parenting, but still people get to do what they want. But when things happen that we think shouldn’t happen, or people act in ways that we think they shouldn’t, what do we often do? We try to control them.

If only we could control circumstances in people life would be awesome, right? Picture it. If I could get my kids to finish all their homework and get good grades, if I could get my boss to give me more freedom, if I could prove to my husband that all my intentions are pure, if I could stop my friend from judging me whatever it is, right? We think that we know a better way. And if we could get the other person to behave or think that way, then everything would be better. So are you ready? Here’s the part where I’m going to tell you the secret way to control all the people in your life so they’ll comply with the correct way to do things, which is your way, because of course, you’re the one who knows the way and they’re all going to follow it. Ready? Here’s how you could control everyone in your life.

Wait, hold up. I lied. I don’t have a way, right? You knew I was going to say that. You can’t. It doesn’t matter
how much you try. You cannot control the people. Do you really want to anyway? Then they would just be like robots who comply with the way you think life should be. And they wouldn’t really have their own brain and decision making. They don’t really want that. I know the way I’ve put this sounds kind of silly, right? I’m being a little facetious about it, but I’m doing it on purpose. Because if we really pick apart what’s going on when we’re trying to control their people or circumstances, that’s what it boils down to. We think we know the correct way for them to behave. We think we know what they should say, what they should do, and how they should do it all.

And if everybody would just fall in line, then life would be better. Then we could feel better. If everyone would just fall in line, what would you get to feel?
Maybe you’d have more peace, more contentment, more significance, more security. And we’re hoping we’re going to feel less icky stuff like shame, guilt, annoyance, disgust, whatever you name it. Whatever you feel. When you want to control somebody, either way, good or bad, whether you want to feel more of the positive or less of the negative, either way we’re putting responsibility for how we feel in the hands of everyone and everything else. So if everyone else is responsible for how we feel, it only makes sense we’re going to try to control them. Right?

Our wellbeing is dependent on it. We really just try to control people because we want to feel better. And it
makes sense. It does. This is where I want you to give yourself grace. I’m always asking my clients give
themselves grace. It totally makes sense that we try to control their people. We’re humans. But there is a problem with it, okay? The problem is you can’t actually control people. I know this is true because I’ve tried and I know you try, and it might seem like it works. Sometimes people comply, don’t they? Mhm. But in reality, we have no control over other people. Think about it. Tell me about a time when you’ve tried to control how your kids behaved, get them to behave differently. You’ve tried to convince your spouse to think differently about you or a friend or a coworker or whoever. And then everyone fully complied and everything was rainbows and daisies and wonderful and life was perfect. That doesn’t really happen. I’m being a little sarcastic today. Sorry.

Usually people just don’t do what we’re trying to get them to do. So here’s what we do. We feel uncomfortable. We feel some of those icky emotions. So then we try to control the situation or we try to control people and it doesn’t work. So we’re feeling icky and then we’re just adding on frustration and resentment and judgment or whatever else it is.

We just compile it and it doesn’t work. We end up feeling worse. So I’m going to give you an example here loosely taken from past experiences of my life. So if any of my friends listen and they think this is you, it’s not. It’s kind of just a conglomeration of how I used to try to get through some situations. Imagine I don’t call my friend as often as she’d like, and she thinks that means I don’t care about her. And she tells me that if you cared, you’d call more. Okay? She actually says it. Now my mind starts freaking out. My brain might do something like this. Like, no, that’s not true. I do care. Something’s gone wrong. This isn’t okay. I don’t like how it feels. It’s uncomfortable. I feel ashamed. I want to change her thoughts about me. And I want to do it like pronto.

Did you hear what I was saying there? Did you catch it? Did you catch what my brain’s doing? My mind and my brain are going to work very quickly to alert me something’s gone wrong. It starts telling me my friend is wrong about me. And I start thinking I’m not a good enough friend. Or at least I’m sure that’s what my friend is thinking. And I feel shame. There it is. Shame does not feel comfortable. I don’t prefer to feel shame and instinctually. Before I can even be reasonable. My brain goes to work to keep me out of feeling shame. Or it could have been other negative emotions or uncomfortable emotions like fear, helplessness, anxiety, regrets, guilt. These things pop up really fast with our thoughts. And then we try to stop feeling that way by controlling the other person or controlling the situation. So the next thing you know, I’m frantically trying to excuse my lack of phone calls and make sure my friend does not think I’m a bad friend. Right?

Because that is bad. It’s uncomfortable. I want to control what she’s thinking and how she’s feeling and explain it all away right away. It might go something like this. Okay, friend, you have to understand I’m busy at work. I’m taking care of my parents. I’m volunteering. The kids are keeping me busy. See, think about all the stuff that’s happening in my life. Change your thoughts about me. Don’t make it mean I don’t care, because that causes me pain in a scenario like this. I’m thinking I feel bad because of what my friend told me. She told me she wishes I’d call more. And I think that makes me feel bad, but that’s not it at all.

I’m, um, actually feeling bad because of stories that I’m allowing in my mind. And it can happen in an instant. But essentially, I’m thinking that my friend is questioning my character. I’m thinking that I’m not good enough. Boom. I say boom because that’s the thing that always comes up. I’m not good enough. The source of my pain is my thought that I’m not a good enough friend. I m think her wanting me to call more is the source of my pain. That’s why I’m trying to change that. But it’s not. It’s the story my mind is creating about it.

When I make my friend responsible for my pain, I’m not taking responsibility for my m own emotions. I’ve given away that power and that responsibility to the other person. And now I’ve made how I feel dependent on her. That’s where it gets scary. That’s where we try to control. Because now the only way I can feel better is if the other person changes. And let me tell you, when I think the only way I’m going to feel better is if somebody else changes. I’ve acted pretty crazy and desperate trying to get the other person to think differently or feel differently. The reality is, it’s not the other person that’s making us feel bad. Any emotion we feel is actually coming from the thoughts we have about their behavior and what we make it mean about us. If you think about it, this is awesome news. The thoughts we allow and the stories in our minds that we’re making up, uh, that’s what’s causing our pain. That means we have control over it. That’s awesome news. We don’t need to control their people to feel better. We need to control our own minds and our thoughts. We can learn to do that, right? Nobody has to change for us to feel better. That’s a
relief.

Listen, we create a lot of tension in our lives when we don’t control what we can. And we try to control
what we can’t. Got that? I’m going to say that one, one more time. We create a lot of tension in our lives when we don’t control what we can and we try to control what we can’t. So what’s actually in your control?

Here it is.
Everything falls under these three main things. You can control what you think, what you feel and what you do. What you do encompasses all your actions and words and communication and all that stuff. M, you can control what you think, what you feel and what you do. Where we get into trouble is when we forget to manage that. And instead we get so focused on trying to control what other people think, what other people feel, and what other people say and do all of that that I just said is really their business. It’s not your business, it’s their business. Mind your own business. When I was a kid and other kids would pester or bully or whatever, one of the phrases we said all the time was mind your own business. Or sometimes it was mind your own beeswax. I don’t know where that comes from, but that’s a good one to remember. Mind your own business. But you have to remember what your business is.

You got to be clear about it. Other people’s thoughts, actions, feelings, not your business. If you walk around with a list of how you think others should behave and then you try to control or manipulate them and then they don’t comply, you are the one who is suffering because all those feelings you are trying to, um, avoid by controlling someone else, you still have all those feelings. And then on top of it, you’re angry and frustrated when they don’t comply. Or like I said, maybe they do comply. I know some of you listening ah, are practiced at, ah, getting others to do what you want. And I know sometimes they comply and it seems like it’s going good. But trust me, they are managing their own thoughts and feelings about you being all up in their business.

Mind your own business. And here’s what I recommend. I recommend you let go of the list of ways you think that others should behave. I’m going to do a podcast on that one. Actually. I’ll do it soon. I have a whole thing about the list. That’s what I’ll call it. I’ll call it the list. So I won’t talk about the list too much right now. But just imagine in simple terms, you have a list of how you think others should behave. What if you drop that list? Drop that list and take a look at your own business. Ask yourself why you wish they would change. That’s what’s really behind it. If the other person did it your way, how do you think it would make you feel?

Figure that out. Then you can do the work on your own thoughts because you know what’s driving it. Then you can take back control of your own emotions instead of depending on others behavior for you to be okay. Because that doesn’t work. Okay? Some of you are thinking about this caveat, so let me say for sure. You can make requests of other people. You can ask your spouse to take out the trash. That’s not controlling. That’s making a request. You can ask your friend to call you when she’s going to arrive late to lunch. You can ask your neighbor not to park so close to your driveway. You can make the request. It’s fine.

Just don’t attach your own emotional well being to the request that you’re making of other people. When others don’t comply or don’t behave as you think they should. Don’t make it mean anything about you.
Don’t make it mean they don’t care about you. Don’t make it mean they think less of you. Just don’t make it about you. It’s not about you. Don’t attach your emotional happiness to what other people think or do when you don’t make it about you, when you mind your own thoughts, and when you take responsibility for your own emotions, you will begin to free yourself m from that desperate need to control. And that’s a huge step in the mind renewal process. That’s a huge piece of learning how to feel peace and contentment regardless of what life throws your way, regardless of what is happening around you, regardless of what other people are doing. That’s possible.

As always, if you want a place to process through what you’re learning here about control or anything else we’ve been talking about here on the podcast. I have a Facebook group just for podcast listeners. It’s just getting going. It’s a great time to join. Um, we’re having good discussions over there. If you want to learn more skills or catch a free webinar. I’m doing a webinar on Control. If you’re listening to this, when the podcast comes out, go to my podcast page and the sign up is there. And there’s also free coaching session with me.

Hey, I’m here for you, so head on over to Rympodcast .com. All that great information is there. I’d love to connect with you. And that’s it for today. So until next time, take care.

As an advanced certified Life coach, I help Christian women trying to live their best lives, but they still feel
unsatisfied and stuck. I teach thought management skills that work so you can enjoy joy life again and step into who God has created you to be. Don’t forget to head on over to Rympodcast.com to get my free resources or a free coaching call.

 

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