This is another old one but with control freaks ruling the world, what can we do…..
Seems to me if people spent less time trying to take, be in and keep control and more time losing control, the world might be a much easier and nicer place to live in.
I was once on a ” just girls,” weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday. As I was loading the dishwasher after breakfast, someone said:
” It’s lucky my husband isn’t here to see how you’ve done that.”
” Done what?” I asked.
” Loaded the dishwasher,” she said, ” he’d just take everything out and do it again. He does it to me all the time.”
” Mine does that as well,” said one of the other girls, ” certain plates go in certain places and all the cutlery has to be sorted into individual areas”
” Mine can’t stand it if the plates are facing different directions,” said another.
Turns out, a lot of partners have a problem with letting go of dishwasher-control.
” Wow,” I said, ” in our house we’re just glad that someone has actually loaded the dishwasher.”
But dishwasher control is nothing to the battles for control that go on in the other parts of our lives.
It comes in many different forms.
There’s the overt, public, assertive kind of control: this is how it’s going to be done, no discussions, no questions, no arguments
There’s the covert, underhand kind of control: I know she asked you to to do differently but just do it my way because it’s better and no one will know.”
There’s the passive aggressive, quietly threatening kind of control: I don’t want to be a nuisance but I’ve been up worrying all night because I don’t really agree with what you’re asking me to do and I know my view isn’t important but I will have to seek further advice if you make me do it.
And then there’s the worst kind of control, the personal kind where you are too scared to show or admit how you really feel in case someone uses the information to make you look stupid or feel weak.
But it’s a constant and emotionally draining battle.
And it begins from the moment we’re born.
I sometimes wonder if the reason why the first noise we make as babies is a cry not because we are taking our first breath, but because we’re really cross that we’ve had no control over when we’ve been born.
Without consulting us, the warm, cosy uterus has expelled us into a cold, hostile world.
Who wouldn’t be mad?
Who wouldn’t cry and want to shout out ” hey, put me back in. Let me decide when it’s time.”
And that battle for control continues for the rest of our lives.
First we need to control our parents and siblings.
Then we need to control our friends and acquaintances.
Then there’s our work colleagues and our bosses.
And finally we have to control our lovers and partners and eventually our own children.
The more we want control, the more exhausting life becomes because there’s always someone who wants it more and will fight for it harder.
Yet the thought of giving up control, or if not giving it up, losing it for a little while, can be petrifying.
” I can’t do it mum,” says my almost 17 year old daughter, “I can’t just let go, The thought of not being in control makes me feel sick.”
And with all the lessons I have learnt in life, with all my irrelevant experience and unlistened to advice, with all the love I feel for her, I can’t show her how to do it.
I can’t show her how it can sometimes be alright to make yourself vulnerable.
I cant show her the freedom that comes with enjoying the moment without worrying.
I can’t show her how much fun it can be to drift without knowing where you’re going,
or how important it is to sometimes lose yourself in your dreams and be ruled by your heart.
The history of the world has been dominated by fights for control.
One country trying to control another.
One race trying to rule another.
One religion trying to dominate another.
The hardest thing to say is: ” let’s try it your way.”
The hardest thing to swallow is your pride.
But perhaps, if we spent less time battling for control and more time thinking about how to trust and value each other, then maybe the world really would be a better, less fragile place.
It won’t be easy but it might be worth a try.
So the next time you load a dishwasher, go wild.
Let the plates face different directions, the cups be higgledy-piggledy and the knives and forks be muddled together.
It’s a first step towards letting go ….even if the dishes don’t end up so clean!