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BlogMindset & Personal Development

The Need To Control

By April 26, 2021May 30th, 2023No Comments

I’ve been trying to tune in (instead of avoid the pain and discomfort) when I feel frustrated, rushed, not enough, and/or disappointed. I have been looking for patterns that cause all of the aforementioned feelings of suffering.  The common pattern?  Something happened that I wanted to control and it didn’t go the way I planned.  We all have clinging desires to control people, dogs (haha), our schedule, the outcome of ANY goal, or even catching every red light on the way to the grocery store.  

How do you balance having expectations but not getting too frustrated or ruminating when it didn’t go to plan?  

As humans, we are always looking at current inputs to predict the future- it’s what keeps us alive!)  You’ve already heard about controlling the controllables (focus on what you can control and set goals based on that). It’s normal to want things to work out.  It’s normal to look at a current trajectory and anticipate what is coming next (thank you, dopamine).

Trying to detach from the outcome, even by a little bit, doesn’t mean you don’t feel pain when it doesn’t work out.  I like to think that it’s what you focus on when things don’t go to plan.  

Some examples:

  •  Bike Race/Ride: legs don’t feel good, flat tire, lost, had to skip or miss planned event.
    • It’s okay to feel disappointed, but recognizing that the preparation to do this event (the identity you have because you prepare/train) is more important than the event., Plus, there will be more events!
  • You didn’t get the job/promotion
    • Rejection can be a great motivator (I get rejected ALL THE TIME!)
    • Maybe something better is coming along
    • I want to do my best because I care about my actions. I want recognition, but I can still find fulfillment in my work
  • Your dog isn’t what you envisioned
    • Looking for things that you do appreciate about your dog
    • Acceptance that what you envisioned isn’t going to work out (personal example…my crazy dog will never be an off-leash trail dog)

Bottom line: Finding joy in the task for the sake of the task itself in the present moment helps decrease suffering and attachment to the outcome.  That’s the key to intrinsic motivation and fulfillment.  You can still care about the outcome, but you also can “win,” when something outside of your control changes the desired outcome.

A life without suffering doesn’t exist- heck, we seek it out with some of our personal athletic challenges!  It’s how you choose to respond to that suffering (and training yourself to do so) that matters.  As a side note: cognitive work like I mentioned is great. But a mindfulness practice so you can quickly notice your thoughts without getting lost in them helps too!  Acceptance, self-compassion, and equanimity are things I’ll always be working on, and I love the challenge (even when sometimes it hurts!)

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