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Thriving even when your life feels out of control

Oh no! What happens next? Thoughts on thriving when your life is out of control.

There’s a very strong chance I may possibly be a control freak. However, as I’ve mentioned a million and one times before, I am without a doubt, two people. When I say I’m a control freak, there’s so much that doesn’t apply. I’m a go-along to get-along kind of girl for the most part. If I’m with a group of people and they decide on wanting to go someplace for dinner, that might not be my choice, no worries. I don’t give two hoots. Let’s go have fun. I’m a pleaser at heart as well and I like the people around me being happy. If I can aid in that, then I’m happy to.

However, when it comes to me personally and my environment, I am a control freak to the “Kathy Bates in Misery” degree other than I promise to stop right before breaking anyone’s legs.  I’m one of those weird people who take great pleasure in organizing their refrigerator. Labels facing out, please!

I also can’t start writing until the area around my desk is organized and clean. I can’t even begin writing if I know my kitchen is in any kind of a mess. This doesn’t bold well by living with my grown daughter who doesn’t share my love for the orderly. God love her, she’s a slob.

My boyfriend shares my obsessive compulsiveness for labels out, among other things. The good news is, I think he’s worse than I am. He’s certainly more organized. You know, it’s the little things that make relationships work.

That Betty side of me also doesn’t mind letting go and being spontaneous. I may or may not have recently illegally entered a particular professional race of some sort which I will not name specifically. It was fun.

Yet, here’s my problem.

I want to control things I have no control over.

Can I tell you how much I hate that?

More specifically I want to control the future. I am the queen bee of “what if”. What if I lose my job? What if I lose my home? What if I’m never able to retire and I have to become a Walmart greeter? What if I get sick? (A lot of my friends have.) What if my kids face disappointment, heartbreak, or worse, become New York Yankee fans?

When I find myself heading into a place of “what if”, this is how I reel myself back in.

  1. I stop trying to cross a damn bridge that is miles away. – You’ve heard the old saying don’t cross a bridge until you get there? I’m notorious at attempting to figure out how I’m going to cross the said bridge when it’s nowhere in sight. This is when I bring myself back to the current moment. Am I a Walmart greeter today? Nope, then why are you worried about it?

2. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu  – Once I’m back in the moment, I look at what I can do at that moment. What “one step” in that exact moment will propel me to the things I really want in life? What steps can I take right at that moment that will move me toward my goals? Even if I haven’t fully reached my goals, if I’m just taking a step in the direction toward them, I can’t begin to tell you how much better I feel. My world feels less out of control at that moment.

3. Oh yeah, you can’t control some things, like other people. – This past week I quite literally had my ass handed to me at work and it left me feeling so broken. It all came to a head one night when I finally decided to stop working around 8 pm after having been at my computer for a straight 14 hours, and opened a bottle of wine at my boyfriend’s house only to break his very nice bottle opener. (Haven’t told him yet, but I’m headed out to find a replacement immediately following this post!)  This led to what I like to call a “full-on meltdown”. Betty style. My friend Karen called me right after this moment and asked how I was. Through a massive amount of tears, I told her I can sum it up in one very simple event and then proceeded to tell her about the wine opener.

I explained how I felt like I always try and try and try so very hard to take care of his stuff and somehow I always end up breaking something. Now mind you, for all the things I’ve broken at his house, he’s never once been upset about it. He always tells me I matter more than things. But I’m unusually hard on myself. I want perfection. Why can’t I achieve perfection?? And I equated the wine opener to my work. I try and try and try but am still met with harsh criticism and it breaks my heart. My friend Karen’s response was priceless. She said simply, “stop trying so hard.”

You may very well indeed be doing everything right. Some people will still find a way to try and “make you” feel like you are simply nothing but a waste of space. You can’t control that. When that is happening you MUST come to the realization that their behavior lies fully with them. You can control your reaction to it and choose to not believe their version of you.

And also, sometimes, you’re gonna break shit.

4. Gratitude out the wazoo. – Lastly, my go-to for when I’m feeling terrible. I start thanking God for all of it. I thank him for the difficulties at work because I have a job. I thank him for people who try to make me feel terrible. I thank God for having an amazing boyfriend with stuff I can break. I thank Him for my life and for breath and for bills and for difficulty and for my children and for my friends who are patient beyond belief and always lend an ear when the meltdowns come. Gratitude takes us away from living in a space of fear. They simply can’t coexist. It’s one or the other.

So when the “what ifs” rear their ugly head, CAREFULLY open a bottle of wine and work your way through the list. I promise it will bring your heart back to a place of peace. Peace and wine, what’s not to love?

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