The Illusion of Control

Two weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch working when it suddenly dawned on me that I might not have any luggage. Ordinarily, this is not a big deal since I rarely take big enough trips to require more than a carry on. However, the kids and I are leaving for Turkey next week. So as soon as remembered we might not have any luggage, I panicked. I ran into the garage and my fears were proven right.

No luggage.

I ran right to my savior, amazon, and it took me only four minutes to start hyperventilating. I hate shopping. I mean I really hate shopping. When I was about to have David and needed to buy some baby essentials, I started weeping. My sister had to talk me through each item on the phone all the way from Turkey. Shopping is not my thing.

Anyhow, I started looking at the luggages and had no idea what the right size would be. After stressing, panicking, and even crying a bit, I picked one and bought it.

Ten days later, it came and it was way too small for three people and two weeks. So now I was a little over a week away from my trip and I still had no luggage that I could use. And I had a piece of luggage that was useless that I’d paid for. If shopping puts me into a frenzy, you should see what having to return items does to me. Instead of letting the despair consume me, I just went and bought another one that was two sizes bigger. I ordered 2-day delivery to ensure it would be here in plenty of time.

And then the obsessive clicking began.

I am not sure if I am the only crazy person who does this but when I order something I really want or need, I find myself going on amazon 20, 30, 40 times a day and checking order status. And when it finally changes to “shipped,” I then go to the ups/fedex site and continue my obsessive clicking there. I need to make sure it’s moving across America. I start thinking about the worst case scenario. UPS will lose my package. I will not get it on time and will not be able to go on the trip. It will come and be broken. Something will go wrong. The stories go on and on in my head. As if I can control the outcome with my sheer will. As if worrying will ensure nothing goes wrong.

This issue with having to control the outcome happened to me so many times this week that I decided the universe was trying to send me a message. The car needed last minute repairs and smog check for the DMV, the planned schedule at work turned topsy turvy due to a last minute issue, etc. etc. Each time I thought I had a plan for how things would go, something new (albeit small and inconsequential in the scheme of life events) came up and I found myself close to breaking down.

At some point, I just got really mad at myself. My need to control things. My desire to have it all be done “NOW” and not hang on my mind or my to-do list. The way I would let something as dumb as smog check or luggage really take over my day and weigh me down. I just kept coming back again and again to this need to control and clench tightly.

What I was reminded gently is that I do not have any control. Things happen. It’s neither my fault nor my success. All I get to do is show up and do the best I can and then I release it. The rest of it is not up to me. That’s the hardest part for me, remembering that it’s no up to me. And that I can just go on and live my life and when the next thing comes up, I will deal with it then. Life is not about constantly making backup plans. It’s ok to have one occasionally for the stuff that matters. But, even then, the excessive worrying is pointless.

So that’s my lesson for this week: release, release, release.

There’s no such thing as control. It’s all an illusion. And these small instances are perfect reminders and preparation for more substantial ones. The more I can learn to practice releasing now, the better off I will be in the long run.

Oh, and, the luggage arrived right on schedule, of course. It was a little bigger than I’d hoped but it will do perfectly for the trip. And the car is all fixed. And life continues to unfold every day so the best I can do is show up and welcome it all.

4 comments to The Illusion of Control

  • Fi

    I’m with you on this Karen, and letting go of control has been the theme of my last 2 weeks. I’m getting better at “handing it all to the divine” as my meditation teacher calls it. A hard lesson to learn for a Virgo like me…still, the first step is being aware of it. From then, we can only do our best.

  • Yes this has been a problem with me in the past too! I’ve learned to use my manta “Let Go and Let God” which I’ve used alot over the last year or so. As soon as I start feeling panicked about things or wondering what’s going to happen or what I should do, I just repeat my manta over and over again. As for the shopping frenzy….. I’ve learned that if I want something NOW, to just go to a store and buy it! no trying to figure out what to order, doing the research, comparing prices, sizes, etc. and then waiting for it to come! I just go to the store. The town is 30 miles away and I hate spending the gas money, but it’s the easiest for me. I’m HANDS ON and want to SEE what I’m buying! But if I do order something online, as soon as I hit the final button to send my order, I just let it go from my mind. When it gets here, it gets here, and if there’s a problem, then I will deal with it when it comes up. I don’t worry about it before-hand. Like you said, we really aren’t in control of that part of it anyway so why worry about it? One thing I do (or did do when I was in an ordering frenzy online), was to make a list of what I ordered, when and when expected to be received. Then as I received it, I could mark it off the list. If I found an item that didn’t come, then I would deal with it. It worked well for me.

    Love your posts and seems alot of your life’s issues are mine as well! Take care. Marilyn

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