Life became remarkably easier for me when I started to understand that the only thing I have control over is myself in this moment.
Meaning that: the past, the future, and all other people’s actions, behaviors, thoughts, words, beliefs, and even how they choose to treat me are all out of my hands.
This is a pretty straight forward concept, right? I mean, obviously. But how often do we internally develop expectations of others and then get angry with them when those expectations are not met? How often do we get taken aback by someone being rude to us and we let it ruin the next hour or two of our lives? How often do we perseverate on events from our past until we’re sick to our stomachs, as if we can go back in time and change the outcomes? Or over think ourselves into a ball of stress over our futures?
The challenge isn’t just releasing the need for control, the challenge is accepting situations and people exactly as they are and responding accordingly instead of reacting out of emotion.
When I was first starting out with shadow work, this was the hardest shit in the fucking world. I was a high-charged firecracker that could be set off extremely easily. My anxiety made me feel the need to be in control of everything all the time and as such I was compulsively anal retentive. I had certain expectations and specific ways of doing and handling things. It was a struggle for me to go with the flow if my expectations or routine were upset. And when one thing went “wrong”, it always felt as though it led to a domino effect of everything else that could go wrong, too. It made me extremely difficult to work with and even more difficult to get along with. Eventually I had to look at the common denominator (me) in why all my relationships were failing and figure out what the fuck my problem was. There was no good reason for why I should be disrupting my own peace like that, let alone anyone else's.
I started noticing when I got frustrated; instead of reacting the way that I normally would, I told myself to go drink some water. Immediately, without hesitation, the minute I started feeling my face get hot or I caught myself swearing under my breath. Every. Single. Time. “Kyleigh, go drink some water.”
It became my mantra. The immediate redirection of thought/action ensured that I wouldn’t stew over whatever stupid thing I was reacting to and furthermore, I wouldn’t allow it to ruin the rest of my day. It created a pause; a timeframe to process, reflect and decide if whatever just happened was something I had reason to be genuinely angry about. It provided me a minute or two to take a step back and assess the situation before responding to it.
Other people’s behavior usually has much more to do with themselves than it does anyone else. A person’s responses are based within their own perceptions, past experiences, and truth.
Taking that into consideration, it would mean that how I had been reacting (snappy, demanding, abrasive, and mean) was actually me projecting my own inner bull shit that I hadn’t faced yet, and it really didn’t have anything to do with the person or situation at hand at all.
After realizing this, holding myself accountable for it, and forgiving myself- I decided that how I wanted to respond from that point forward had to come from a place of intention and align with the kind of person I want to be. And in order to do that, I was going to have to face my bull shit and be more persistent in shifting my mindset.
Now, my mantra is “focus on what you can control”. That one sentence brings me so much peace; I am released of any need for control outside of my own thoughts, words, actions, and behaviors in this moment. I can choose to be bitter or I can choose to be better.