“Being in control of the situation” is something that most Americans are proud of. Whether it is a housing deal, a health care situation, or any number of other major decisions that we have to endure throughout our lifespan here on earth, we like to feel that we are in control of the outcome. This feeling is especially prevalent when we are making major life changes. Moving from our home to an assisted living facility may be one time when our grasp on control feels like it is slipping. Enduring a health crisis might be another time. And each time that we are faced with these feelings, we have a choice about how to deal with it. Sometimes, inadvertently, we choose to deal with these feelings poorly and can cause a great deal of stress and strain on our loved ones or those trying to help us. Some people have been noted to become mean-spirited, manipulative or just plain difficult simply because they don't know how to communicate their feelings. So, here are some tips on how to get through the seeming craziness of a situation beyond your control without losing your dignity and grace.
- Recognize what IS within your control. Perhaps you are dealing with cancer, or diabetes. The fact that you have one of those diseases is not, in fact, within your control. The things you eat, the treatment course that you choose, and the environment that you decide to stay in ARE within your control. Make peace with what you are incapable of changing. Perhaps one of your children is wanting to sell the homestead that they inherited. If it is their belonging, it is not within your control. Boundaries can become blurred when we are sentimental about things, or when we feel another person is making a poor choice. You can talk to them about your feelings, but then you must let it go. It is, after all, a material possession & your relationship with them is much more important than that.
- Investigate WHY you feel the need to be in control. This can be a difficult journey. If you find yourself consistently struggling and grasping for more control in your personal relationships, you might need to do some self-evaluation. Often this is caused by past wounds that have been done to you, and times when you have felt very much out of control. The problem with coping with the past in this way is that you can tend to become someone who manipulates current situations with extreme control because you're unwilling to deal with those past wounds.
- Work on letting go of the things that do not really matter. As you begin to do this, you will begin to realize that others around you are fully capable of making good decisions. Even if they do not, it is not necessarily your responsibility to take charge of it. If people around you are used to you usurping control, it may take them a bit of time before they understand that you're letting go.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, letting go is an extremely healthy thing to do. There are actually very few things in life that we have control over, anyway. You might find a great sense of peace & freedom when you've laid down the burden of always having everything together, organized, & perfectly planned. That freedom & peace can translate into things of lasting value, things like relationship, love, trust & genuine laughter. So, as we age, let it be with grace & dignity. Let our aging be the kind that makes people want to remember us with joy, instead of grasping for nice things to say about us once we're gone.