I Want to Be in Control of My Life, Is It True?

ground squirrel with a peanut
Being in control is a nice feeling, but it’s not always easy to maintain.

Last Week Was a Bit Chaotic

I unexpectedly needed to move the server for my website. It happened fast and without much warning, and it required a lot of extra time to complete the process. That means that it didn’t fit neatly into my disciplined schedule. 

And that meant that there were days when I did little meditation, or didn’t show up on Inquiry Circle to do my work, or got behind in my email, or didn’t do my exercises, or got to bed a little later and woke up feeling a little more tired.

It’s the Feeling of Being Out of Control

This was just a little example of how life can quickly go out of control. And it was not a major deviation. But I felt the stress nonetheless. Each part of my day has a specific purpose. And when I’m unable to maintain my routines, it can feel like I’m unable to “be myself.” 

It’s a funny thing to discover that “being myself” has become dependent on doing all the things I think are important to keep me balanced. On the one hand, this makes sense when you have a life full of moving parts. It is good to keep them all balanced.

But on the other hand, this dependence on keeping everything balanced is a vulnerability—an emotional vulnerability. With this mindset, things have to be going well for me to be okay, and that’s a precarious situation.

It’s Worth Questioning the Thoughts that Set This Up

The other day, I was literally sitting down late again to meditate after another unexpected phone call with tech support. I had less time than usual for my meditation and I was not happy about it. I don’t cry much, but it was that same kind of feeling in my chest. 

So before I started to meditate, I decided to do a quick piece of work. I questioned, “I want to be in control of my life, is it true?” And what I found in just a few short minutes was that when I believe that thought, I have no patience for deviations from my normal routine. 

I try to protect my life from outside influences. My life becomes smaller and smaller. I don’t want to expand, and expose myself to yet more chaos. I become frustrated and emotional when things don’t go according to plan. And I see images of what I could have had if all had gone according to my plan. 

Without the Thought I Would Be Free

If I was not thinking that I want to be in control of my life, I would be living moment to moment in a very free state of mind. I might still be setting up systems for myself that do give some control, but I would not be so attached to them. When chaos hits, I would be able to deviate from my plans and roll with the punches. 

On a deeper level, I would be as relaxed doing a tech support call as I would be meditating. In fact, the tech support call would be my meditation. I would not be missing out. I could literally flow from one activity to another in a state of peace. I would not be dependent on everything being under control. 

As I Saw This, My Heart Relaxed

This little piece of work showed me that it was just my thinking that makes me feel limited and trapped and stressed. If I’m not attached to things going according to plan, then I’m free to move with the chaos and work with it in a much more fulfilling way. 

It reminded me of when I was 20 and living in Costa Rica. The buses there scared many people because they drove so fast. But for some reason I was able to turn my fate over to the bus drivers there and let them drive as they wanted. 

I watched us going through some “crazy” driving situations, but I was happy inside. I was not trying to control them. I just trusted life. And it was actually fun! What if dealing with a tech crisis could be as fun as riding on those buses? It’s just a matter of how I view it.

What Are You Trying to Control?

And who would you be without this desire to control it? I invite you to write down and question your stressful thoughts about it using The Work of Byron Katie. 

Check out my availability and book a session using my online scheduling calendars (you can usually find an open slot just a few days in advance, or occasionally even on the same day). Book a private session here.

Have a great week

“Eventually, mind discovers that it’s free, that it’s infinitely out of control and infinitely joyful. Eventually, it falls in love with the unknown. In that it can rest. And since it no longer believes what it thinks, it remains always peaceful, wherever it is or isn’t.” Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy.

Further reading: How I Confuse Freedom and Control

About the author 


Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.

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