Definition of a control freak:
'A person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves
and others and to take command of any situation.'
I’d like to tell a story that you might possibly find familiar, especially if you consider yourself a control freak.
Who doesn’t love going on holiday? The chance to experience different food, cultures, people, weather and possibly even a different language, are real draws for me. I consider myself very well travelled and my love of experiencing far shores goes back as long as I can remember. What has changed in recent years for me however, as my travels come round, is the countdown and preparation before going away.
Wind back a few years and my preparation for going on holiday was planned with precision, (I can hear my family groan). There were lists. Lists of clothes everyone was taking, lists of toiletries and lists of first aid kit items. There were lists for lists.
The suitcases would be out on the spare bed a week or two weeks in advance. Clothes would be equally divided, so that each suitcase had a few items for each of us, should a case get lost. My focus would be on making sure everything went as smoothly as possible and that I could cater for every eventuality. I might also add, that in the process I was quite bossy, stressed and unpleasant to be around.
Fast forward to the winter of 2014 and packing for the annual winter sun holiday. I packed a day or two before and might actually have forgotten a few things, but had a thoroughly enjoyable holiday. In fact I’ve been packing in a much more relaxed manner ever since, much to the amazement of my family.
This might not sound like much of a change, or for that matter something that is such a big deal, but actually what has happened to me over the last few years is that I’ve discovered something that has completely changed my whole way of living, and not just the way I pack. I didn’t ‘work at’ being a bit more casual and relaxed around packing to go away, rather it has been a side effect of some really major changes for me.
I used to think that my feelings came from the world ‘out there’ and believing that meant I would need lots of strategies to make sure everything was controlled as much as possible so I could feel okay, (hence the crazy packing schedule to get everything ‘right’).
I am no longer a control freak, well there’s not much point when you see through the illusion that controlling outcomes has no effect on how you feel. Feelings come only from thought in the moment. The irony is that the more controlling you are, the less chance you have of being in the moment and enjoying it.
That winter holiday was the nicest holiday I can ever remember. Not because of the hotel, or the food, or the weather, or because I’d packed the right clothes, but because I was fully present to my experience and really understood the inside out nature of how we really experience day to day life.
I cannot begin to tell you how much nicer life is these days. The story about the packing has just been a side affect of what I’ve seen having looked at this new paradigm in psychology. I didn’t set out to change that habit. I didn’t even see it as a problem for all those years.
My dear Mum recently said to me that to look at I haven’t changed a bit in the last 3 years, but I have completely changed, and that in all other respects I am unrecognisable.
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