Your Desire For Control Is Super Normal and Totally Absurd

I get it, we all want things to go a particular way. We get this image in our heads about how things might go, we dream, or we imagine. Part of what makes us so incredible is our ability to imagine, plan, and execute.

Just look at the pyramids, the Suez canal, the vast and complex organization of vaccine distribution. Sure it’s problematic but it’s incredible all the same.

So your desire for control is totally normal. Nothing could be more human than a desire to have things go a certain way.

And of course, it’s also totally absurd. Life with all of its wildness, its complexity, its variability laughs in the futile attempts to control it. And even if you make an exception for the wildness of nature, people are just as challenging.

We can hardly get our partners to load the dishwasher the way we want or even agree on the right way to put flowers into a vase. Much less get people to love us the way we want or listen to our well-reasoned arguments about how stupid they’re being.

At the foundation our desire to control is a desire to feel safe. If it goes this way and if it looks the way we want, we will feel good and we will feel safe.

We long for this because being in control gives us the taste of what we imagine God or the gods might feel. A sense of sovereignty and domain.

The irony is that we then go wonder at nature, which has been placed in a way we never could have imagined. A miasma of rock worn down by rivers, trees growing from seeds thrown about by the wind. We love nature for its wildness, but struggle when that wildness enters our lives.

Wildness in society is called instability, insanity, and it is crazy making.

Perhaps we’d all be better off if we could relax. Let the flowers be placed in the vase a different way, allow the ants to crawl on our balcony with awe, accept that some people in their wildness don’t need to change, though we may need to spend less time with them.

Perhaps we can understand that our desire for control is normal and not make ourselves wrong for our urges to have things be a certain way, and at the same time, perhaps we can relax just a bit and let go of things needing to be a certain way.

There is a freedom in sitting in this tension that embraces our human desire and laughs at the comedy of it all. This is a freedom brought to us by equal parts, faith, surrender, and humor.

It’s a freedom that is the punchline to the joke that we were created with a deep desire to control in a world that mocks even our most basic attempts to control anything at all.


The 5 Simple Steps to Facing Fear

Litany against fear- From DUNE a book by Frank Herbert
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye and see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.“
Whenever we try to change our lives fear arises. Sometimes it arises because we stumble on the path: “I gained a pound back. What if this is where it all falls apart?” Sometimes it arises because the future is unknown: “If I transform into someone new, who will I be?”  Starting a new exercise practice, changing the way we eat, taking a new fitness class can all be a catalyst for fear, but it doesn’t have to derail us. There are ways to practice with fear and use them to connect with our hearts desire.
Everyone and I mean everyone gets afraid from time to time. Some people are better at hiding it, denying it, or compartmentalizing it, but everyone experiences fear. Resistance to fear is the first barrier to facing our fear.
We want to deny that we are afraid. Most of us are afraid that we will fail, fall flat on our faces, be embarrassed, gain all the weight back, lose the girl/boy, become a source of shame for our family/friends, get terminally ill and die alone and unloved. We try not to think about it because if we do it will come true, or perhaps we’re afraid that we will see it is already true.
Just say to yourself. I’m afraid.
Where do you feel fear? Is it a tight feeling in your chest? Is it butterflies in your stomach? Are you clenching your jaw? Squeezing your fists?
No matter where you feel it, try to go into the sensation. What is the texture of it? What color is it? Is it related to any other part of your body?
Take a piece of paper and describe it in as much detail as possible. If you notice yourself thinking of the content of fear, stop, and go back into your body.
Don’t stay in that fear response forever. It can be very tiring. Instead do something grounding.
  • Things that people find grounding
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise
  •   Taking a walk outside
  •  Eating a piece of fruit
  • Focusing on the bottoms of your feet
Most fear arises from wholesome desires. Our strategies for dealing with fear or the desires that cause fear can be unwholesome, but the fundamental need underneath is usually wholesome and universal.
We want to be loved, appreciated, accepted, and acknowledged. We want to be free, autonomous, joyous, playful, and independent. We want to contribute, nurture, and be part of a community. We want beauty, peace, ease, clarity, order, and predictability.
We might not need all of these at the same time. We might have different ideas about what these would look like, but everything on that list could be needed by anyone.
Try to see what that wholesome desire is for you. Your fear often arises from not having these universal needs addressed.
Often we reject and criticize the part of us that gets afraid.
Imagine if you were a child who was afraid.  Now imagine a parent or teacher criticized your fear, mocked it, and rejected you because of it. Would you feel safer?
Forgive yourself for being afraid. Forgive the part of yourself that is afraid. Visualize yourself as a child. Or if that’s too hard, visualize the part of yourself that is afraid as a child.
Then comfort them. Tell them what you would tell a child that is afraid.  Imagine holding them in your arms patting them on the back. Try putting your arms around yourself and rubbing your own shoulder. Say “it’s ok to be afraid.”
We all experience fear. Fear can be a door into our own hearts and the hearts of others if we are willing to stay with it and walk through it.