By: Staci Stallings
Recently a friend and I were discussing life, and we talked about how people want to control others. I think that control is a subtle form (or maybe not so subtle form) of living on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We think we know what’s best for ourselves and those around us, and we spring into action to fix the situation or to control it so it turns out the way we think it should. Of course, others often have their own ideas about how their lives should go.
Witness children for example. When they are little, if they are compliant, you can generally get them to go along with the program. However, the older they get, the more they get this crazy idea that THEY are supposed to be in charge of their lives.
My oldest went through this stage from about 11 1/2 to 13. I was at the point that I didn’t think I could take it for another six years. Then, all of a sudden, she hit her stride, figured out what she wanted and how best to get it without wrecking things for everyone else, and the storm passed. Her teenage years have really been very uneventful in terms of control. I know she’s in control, and she’s doing a great job of it.
But it’s hard to relinquish that control when you really don’t think they can handle it. Same is true for spouses, parents, co-workers, friends… We want to run everyone else’s lives. Which is strange because we’re also very good at completely messing up our own!
However, when control doesn’t work, we shift quickly to judgment and then to out-right criticism. They are not doing what we want them to so first we try to control them, then we judge them, then we criticize, then shame and guilt if none of that works. If we keep gorging ourselves on that Tree, we will end up very bitter, hurt, and lonely. The truth is, no one likes to be controlled, judged, criticized, guilted or shamed.
When someone is going off the rails, that is often the time they need the most compassion, not a nose-in-the-air.
In this season of light, I challenge you to put down the judgments, shelve the control, and learn to just be… be a friend, be kind, be love.
You might be surprised what comes of it.