A Different View Of "Control" Issues

I am the calmest when I have a plan that I can manage on my own. It was enlightening to me when I figured out that statement isn’t really about the plan. It’s about the “manage on my own.”

I figured this out when I set out to move from Kentucky. I had been a roommate for two years, sharing expenses with a friend and living at her house. This was a good situation, but her upcoming marriage prompted me to figure out what was next for me. I decided to come home to Maine.

I didn’t know exactly where I would end up living, so it made sense to put my household in storage. I’d already pared down from a three bedroom but found that even my one bedroom household had more than I needed. I followed my own advice for deciding what to keep and did another sort as I packed.

There was a palpable feeling of satisfaction as I pulled down the door of the storage unit and placed the lock.

In this unit was everything I would want when I was ready for my next home. Nothing excessive. And not in someone else’s home. My household was ready and waiting for the day that I needed it again. I had control of this.

Next, it was time to pack the car. I was planning to be at least 4-6 months staying with friends and family that I hadn’t seen for too long. I would use this time to figure out exactly where in Maine would be the best place to relaunch my business. I was bringing only the essentials. Anything that made the cut would have to fit in my little car and cartop carrier. Living would have to be as simple as possible.

I had completely edited my possessions but was a bit nervous to see what wouldn’t fit if I’d chosen wrong. I had some items that I left to pack last. Things I wanted but didn’t absolutely need. I would let go of whatever wouldn’t fit. Loading day finally arrived, and I packed every inch of that car to the max! But as I closed the last door, and checked the stability of the carrier, there it was again – that feeling of control. I had everything I needed. It was in a car that I owned. And I could choose to go anywhere.

I drove away, excited to begin this new stage in my new life. And I drove away incredibly calm.

I’ve often heard people talk about “control issues” as if control is always negative. If I were trying to control someone else, yes, that’s not my aim. I relax when I know that I’m in control of my own life; when I know that I can handle the worst that life could throw at me. And it’s not that I’m always looking for bad things to happen. Quite the opposite, I’m a very positive thinker. But control over the things that I need gives me the satisfying sense that I can take care of myself. And that calm has freed me to this next adventure.

This understanding has given me a new tool. When I feel myself getting anxious, I look at the things I can control - what resources I have - and I focus first on that. Calm is a good place to start anything.