Saturday, February 26, 2011

Control the Controllables

Today's lesson is centered on focusing what can and cannot be controlled. 

How many can truly say "I am happy"? 
How many can say "I am content"? 
How many can say "I am satisfied"?

And how many find faults in life?  Have a tendency to say "I would be happier if________ was different"?

It is so easy in life to blame our unhappiness and dissatisfaction on other people or things.  How often is the object of your unhappiness and dissatisfaction those who are closest to you? 
How many have said:
"Life would be better if my husband would clean up his mess"
"I would be in a much better mood if the baby actually slept through the night"

ME!  ME!  ME!  I have said these things plus many, MANY more ... way too many times.

When I feel myself getting into this "blame others" rut, I have to take a step back and realize one huge truth to the situation ... I can only control the controllables.   

And the only true controllable is ME.

As much as I work to guide my husband and teach him to clean up his mess, in the end, I have no control over him.  He is his own person and I have to remind myself that he's the person I chose to marry ... messes and all!

The same goes for Nathan.  Yes, he's only 2 1/2, but he is still his own little person in his own little body.  Neither of which I can control.  My job in life as his mother is to teach and guide him (hmm ... notice a pattern in the words I use to describe my husband and son?!) to do the right things.  But, in the end, I cannot control him.

Which brings me back to what I can control:  ME. 
I can control how I respond to what I cannot control.  

When I come home from a long day at work and see the house is messy, it is up to me to select the best response. 
a)      I can get irritated and yell at Shaun for not picking up. 
b)      Or I can be passive/aggressive (my absolute favorite) and make an elaborate scene of huffing and puffing around in front of him picking up the toys and mess ... intentionally walking in front of the TV 50 times ... making sure that every groan I exhale as I bend over my big belly is noted in his mind.  All the while, I know he's choosing his response ... which is to do nothing.  And who could blame him?  Responding to my passive/aggressive actions would just reinforce them.
c)      Or I can take a step back and remind myself that he too had a long day at work and ask him if he would help me pick up.  (9 times out of 10, he will help with no complaint.)

It is so easy to lose focus on this principle and blame my anger and frustration on others when in actuality, the anger and frustration is a result of my reaction.  

I used to be so frustrated and upset with my life and was the first to point the finger at my work, my husband, my dog.   I pretty much blamed everyone else for everything.  I spent the better part of my day feeling this way.  I knew I needed a change.  My life couldn't continue on this downward, unhappy spiral.  I felt lost.  But how could things change when I had no control over what made me so angry?

One day, I read an article about a woman who was unhappy with her husband and his attitude towards her and their marriage.  She sought counseling and the counselor told her to spend 1 week focusing solely on how she treated her husband.  The counselor instructed this woman to treat her husband exactly like she wanted him to treat her and to put on blinders and ignore any of the things he did that she didn't like. 

After reading this, I decided to challenge myself with the same exercise and that was a turning point in my life and my happiness.  By simply shifting my thought process and living by The Golden Rule, my marriage improved within a month.  After much soul searching, I realized how far reaching this experiment could go.   

This lesson strengthened the foundation of where my life is now.  I felt like my eyes were opened to a whole new world.  That's when the fundamental principle hit me in the face:. I can only control myself and my happiness.

So, I challenge anyone who reads this to spend one week (or even ONE DAY) and don't focus on your frustrations with other people.  Turn your attention inward and focus on your response and reaction to those frustrations.  Consciously remind yourself that you can't change those around you.  You can only change yourself.  You might be surprised with the outcome …

P.S. Please let me know if you do take on this challenge as I would love to know what you thought of it.

1 comment:

Lady Blachly said...

Amen sista. I try to stay conscious of this regularly b/c otherwise I can get so easily tempted into the "just because you work out of the house doesn't mean....." argument, which is just never ever good.

Gotta keep perspective because after all, we rule the roost (right?!?! LOL) and if mama ain't happy ain't nobody happy. ;)

Love the new header!