Tag Archives: control

A Reflection on Control

This morning, I jogged around the lake close to my home.  The foggy cold paralyzed my senses momentarily.  But, once my blood felt safe to actually circulate throughout the entirety of my body and I could feel my ears again, I began to hear conversations from some people I passed on the path.  Since I am only an accidental eavesdropper, I caught just a few random words and phrases, but one sentence seemed to stick out.

An older couple walked towards me at a brisk pace.  They matched in their puffy down jackets, black jogging pants and gray beanie hats.  They leaned their heads in toward one another, while their arms pumped and their warmed breath smoked around them.  The woman spoke rather loudly to the man, probably from the physical exertion and of course the thick wool caps covering their ears. Just as they passed, she exhaled “the sad thing is, there is nothing you can do.”   Without context or any extreme inflection in her voice, I had no immediate emotion or image to anchor the words.  I guess there was a bit of concern in her manner, maybe a hint of frustration.  For the most part, the words appeared to have been thrown out there, more of a figure of speech or something to be said because there was nothing else left to say.

As I continued past the couple, I slowed to a walk.  My brain definitely tends to function at a slightly higher level when it’s not figuring how to conserve as much energy as possible while immersed in an aerobic workout (jogging) and not simultaneously providing a continuous stream of arguments against the benefits of the aerobic activity (jogging).  With the walking decision made, my thoughts turned toward the statement I had heard.  “The sad thing is, there is nothing you can do.”  Applied as a universal concept, I look at this sentence as potentially limiting and definitely just a matter of perspective.  Assuming that the latter part of this statement is correct “there is nothing you can do”, does that lack of control make it a “sad thing?”  Or does the realization that you have no control in a situation equal another emotional realization besides sadness, dependent on the circumstances? This could be anything from extreme anger to extreme tranquility.

Or does the realization that you have no control in a situation present a different perspective all together that suggests that “control” is conceptual, self created, system binding, defined inaccurately, a root of “how” humans are taught to think (along the lines of opposites – control vs no control).  Taking the perspective further, could it be suggested that we are deluded  to think that we have control and we only think we do because we don’t want to think that we don’t?  But are those two extremes of having and not having the only choices available to us?

I had asked in an earlier blog post ‘what can you control?’ and provided a possible answer, ‘you control you.’  Perhaps adjusting the definition of “control” would help to align the concept I was talking about before and the concept I am talking about now.  That is the concept of awareness, becoming aware of situations, intentions, and ultimately decisions.  This includes an individual’s involvement in that process, in order to engage one in one’s path, choices, actions and reactions.  The awareness concept addresses all of the details and hues of “control” as we may perceive the word, but without the lockdown effect of the word’s enactment.

So, released from a definition, the perspective is left without the influence of “control vs no control.”  The perspective is no longer in the same language, color scheme, style, landscape, etc since the normal definition of “control” wasn’t even in the foundation. That’s kind of refreshing.  The perspective does not need to go through the “control/no control” rigid filter to arrive at the initial understanding or direction.

Getting back to the sentence with this definition release –  “The sad thing is, there is nothing you can do” – the statement then becomes a simple awareness of the situation and a reflection of one’s choice within it. An act; a movement; another step on the path.

© M.R.Collier, A Way of Your Own, 2013

the frustration loop

the government shutdown.  posturing seems to be the new term and the favorite pastime.  the political figures have their agendas, whether they verbalize them or not.   frustration surfaces in the mainstream as does the realization that a large part of our lives is so greatly impacted and controlled by the decisions of a few.

And this is where the loop begins.  Frustration felt from the lack of control.  We, the people, cannot fire the politicians for not doing their job. We do not have the authority.  We, the people, cannot demand immediate re-election of our representatives in order to voice our opinion.  We do not have the unified confidence or means.  So we wait and watch to see what the few decide.  And we stew in our boiling pot, searching for the answer, the resolution, not to the political debate necessarily, but ultimately how to relate to this lack of life control.  Nothing immediately comes to mind; so the frustration continues.  We bite our nails and shake our head, there has got to be something to do about this, to make things better.  We rack our brains amidst the waves of betrayal, unbelievability and anxiety; how to create change. Nothing again, except another bout of frustration.  And this is the loop.

I’ve had a few conversations with friends that have started out with “there has got to be another way to think about this.”  The ‘this’ has usually resolved itself into a full blown frustration loop, like frustrations with the government shutdown, or encounters with sexism, or crazy people expressing themselves with guns.  For myself, when I become stuck in a loop, I feel the energy bubbling over, with no productive direction for this building energy to be funneled; at least productive in the sense that the direction would alleviate the pressure from the cause of the frustration.   So, how to avoid the loop to begin with and put energy towards a more productive path?

I have noticed that my immediate response is usually to reach out and change or solve whatever is causing me the frustration.  I look outside of myself to effect change.  But when I encounter an issue, a concept, a culture, an event beyond my control, then the frustration loop begins.   What if the first step was something else altogether? Another method of thinking, or a different way to process information and come to solutions, resolutions or even just an understanding.  I wonder if our society is buried so deep in normal processes of thinking (stereotypes, belief in opposites, understanding through differences, one reality, blame, ‘one man to save the world’ storyline) and our culture perpetuates this current ‘how’ in thinking, that it would be extremely challenging to impact or be aware of how we develop our perspectives.

So, how do I think about the government shutdown without entering the loop?  I honestly don’t know.  But I feel like it is all about the first step.  Instead of reaching outward for the answer, maybe the first step is to reach in.

a ratio of one to one

Sometimes I simply spin in circles, trying to find the best way that I can to help, to assist, to fix problems, or find solutions to problems where I may not be in the position to help directly.  But the problems arrive one after another, and the reality becomes frustrating and my response slows, dizzy and finally falls jaded and exhausted. Starving children, slaughtered animals, rampant child abuse, elderly neglect, and violence against others based on religion, on power hungry egos, on unrelenting fears, on the need for profit.   They spin and I spin to chase them.  Where is the answer? What can I do to directly impact all of the issues, all at the same time and make the cruelty, pain and power struggle stop?

I remember what my grandma had told my dad when he was younger and he relayed the same words to me – ‘Realize what you can control. You can control you.’  So, I thought about this for a while.  Okay.  Control me. Concentrate on myself to have the most rippling impact on others. Lead myself.  Take responsibility for myself, my attitude, my actions/reactions, my words, my awareness, my positive/negative mood, my intentions, my energy.  Motivate and inspire myself to be the best me possible.  Live as though I were a role model for myself and for anyone who may resonate with me.  Makes sense, but is that enough?  Well, more enough than spinning in circles.

For example, if I monitor my intentions in a situation and decide to smile with positive possibility and to act with a warrior voice of confidence and these actions resonate with even one person out of how ever many witness the situation, this would be a one to one ratio, a 100 percent impact.

In mid-September 2013, another person decided to kill others in a mass shooting.  During some of the news coverage, there was a live press conference with the chief medical officer at the hospital trauma center that cared for the wounded and casualties from the shooting.  Dr. Janis Orlowski gave the status of the patients, relayed how many  had died and then, unexpectedly voiced her opinion on the violence that continues to spill out of the seams in this country.  Her words received some news coverage attention and when asked, she assured the media that her words were spontaneous and from the heart regarding how she felt about the situation in our country.

I resonated with what she was saying and how she presented her opinion.  This, to me, is an example of the one to one ratio.  When the doctor gave her opinion, maybe it was not only what she was saying, but how she was saying it.  From the heart, with positive intention, with no agenda other than a frustration with the violence against innocents.  Was she making a political statement about gun control?  She said that she was not, but even if she was, the political is all about the personal.  Through her honest delivery and intention of her point of view, there rings a truth.  And even if she reached one person and only one, she has affected essentially 100 percent.  She is one person, the recipient is one person – one to one – complete.