Saying No to Control

Certain people thrive on the knowledge that they are driving at their maximum capacity at all times.

For some, it can be an incredibly satisfying feeling to know that they’re successfully juggling a career, family commitments, fitness goals, good health, a thriving social life, and other responsibilities. Being constantly in control is a thrill, but it also can be incredibly exhausting and somewhat perilous to both our physical health and our mental health.

The problem with trying to juggle too many goals and commitments at once, is that inevitably, we can’t sustain it forever, and it leads to burnout. It’s something that creates anxiety within us, beginning in a very subtle way - with a desire to establish control over our lives, our bodies, and the world around us, and appear at the top of our game at all times. However, this anxiety is allowed to persist and grow as we try to maintain control over too many variables  - we fear losing what control we have, and we also fear not having enough. We expect excellence, and fear failure; there is no room for middle ground, outliers, or changes to our plans.

Let me ask you this, when we become dependent on our external successes for validation, what are we deriving our value from? Being relentlessly busy and achievement-focussed may come with a sense of pride and satisfaction, but it often comes at a very high price in the long run. Does it give you the space to craft a healthy and healing relationship with your body, and a schedule that allows you to be the best version of yourself that you can be? Are you showing up for yourself, and for the people that you love? What life will teach us time and time again is that the more we grasp for control, the less we will often get. The better we get at being open and willing to change, quite paradoxically, the more in control we will feel when life throws us a curveball. The better we get at managing our own expectations of ourselves, the less likely we will be to end up burned out and unhappy. The better we get at extending kindness and compassion to ourselves, the better we get at extending it to others, too.

It’s important to take a step back occasionally and take stock of our values. It can be helpful to check in with yourself and reflect on whether or not the things we are filling our schedules with are meaningful and adding value to our lives. If not, what are some small changes that can be made that build a different system? Are you making time to nurture your relationships? Making time to move your body?

Are we listening too much to the rhetoric of ‘hustle’ and ‘no pain no gain’ instead of learning to be attuned to the subtle messages our body sends us about what it wants and needs? Are we basing our self worth and identity on success and superficial things, and forgetting that our worth is inherent, and actually not related to achievement, appearance, or external recognition? You are just as worthy in your highest peaks as you are in your lowest valleys. Regardless of your ability, capacity, or appearance, you are enough. You have always been enough, and you will always be enough. Learn to listen in - to your thoughts, your body, and your intuition. Listen to the messages they send you, and don’t avoid the lessons that slowing down can teach you, or your body will most certainly do the teaching, and force you to slow down eventually.

To borrow the sentiments of Brené Brown, ‘we mustn’t ignore the calls of life, because if we try to silence the ringer, we’re only asking the universe to turn up the volume’.

Arohanui xx

Michaela Latimer