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The Cost of Control

How important is control in your life? What lengths do you go to make sure that you're in charge of your environment? We all want to be in control of our own lives, but things don't always go as planned and life happens. We can try to manage our days to make sure everything runs smoothly but we can't always predict or prevent bad things from happening. Sometimes the more we try to tighten our grip on control the greater the likelihood that it will slip away. Being in control in professions where there is little room for error like surgeons or pilots is important, but problems arise when those people attempt to bring that level of control into their homes and relationships. Control is not all bad and certainly we want to take charge of our health, finances, work responsibilities, and other important commitments. We get into trouble when we try to control, fix, change, and rescue others, especially when they didn't ask to be helped. Control is the most common destroyer of relationships. Both parties often vie for control even though they may approach it differently. And controllers tend to have more stress and conflict in their lives, no surprise. But control can come in many different forms.

Most people think of a controlling person as being aggressive, loud, obnoxious, arrogant, and hypercritical. While that is certainly one form of control, it can come in many different shapes and sizes. Passive-aggressive people can be very controlling as they attempt to manipulative others. Some people exert control by withholding affection, money, time, or love. Others control through persuasiveness, intimidation, or nagging. Sometimes control is accompanied by verbal, emotional, or physical abuse. Surprisingly, control can even take on the form of caretaking. Someone who likes to take care of others exerts control, sometimes with good intentions, by deciding what help they provide along with when and how they give it. Help is offered but with strings attached. Control in relationships can be damaging and destructive. It often leads to frustration, anger and resentment. Ultimately, it results in detachment and disconnectedness.

Of course there is no easy solutions or quick fixes to managing our need for control. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. We can practice delegating and relinquishing control to others. When we worry incessantly over the same things, we can write a list in a "can control" box and a "no control" box. We can problem solve the first box, but the second box requires us to let them go since we have no control over them. Release the items of worry from your brain by giving them to God or by tearing up the list.

Recently I was selected to give a TEDx Ocala talk which will be November 2nd at the UCF campus and my topic is "Rethink Control." If you'd like to hear more on this topic and have an interest in attending a TEDx event with about 11 other speakers then sign up on their website: and enjoy a fantastic day. I'm so excited and honored to be selected and look forward to sharing stories, solutions, and insights to help others who struggle with control. I hope to see you there.

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