It’s so easy to control the ones you love and, especially, the ones you don’t. Control of yourself is something you shy away from. Men often tend to ignore the need for this relying, instead, on righteous indignation at what life has done to them. They think that if they change the world they will improve their lives.
I’m sure that if pushed you will accept that to change anything you need to start with yourself. On the first day when you looked at self-love you discovered that if your relationship is in difficulty you should always look at yourself first. When you accept that your situation starts with yourself you will go a long way to discovering the solution.
The Serenity Prayer, adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous, puts this issue in perspective. It combines the need to change yourself and not others with an ability to see the difference between the two.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
I spent many years working to change the attitudes and habits of others in my life. I created chaos by being so sure of how others should be.
It wasn’t until I went to Al-Anon, a support group for friends and family of alcoholics, that I discovered that not only could I not change others but that I made things worse if I tried to. Being well intentioned did not make it any better.
This behaviour was nothing more than an emotional cover for not looking at my own behaviour. My perception of the world came from my own emotions and needs. I created the world that was inside me, the world did not create me. I created a world where people did not do what I wanted, a world where things didn’t happen as they should. If they would only listen to me everything would be alright. I cringe, now, as I look back.
- This exercise requires an ability to be honest. Write down any initial thoughts on control so that you can come back to them and remind yourself where you started.
- How do you control, or at least attempt to control, the world around you? Do you control your family, colleagues or friends?
- What are, or have been the effects of this behaviour? Be honest about what you have created through this, what lasting consequences have there been for you and others?
- What habits, addictions or patterns do you have that are unresolved? How have you blamed others, or the world, for problems in your life?