Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On.

Good evening, Dear Reader. We’ve been riding out “the winter storm that never was” for the last couple of days here in the Show-Me State. My WTForecast app has had fun telling me how cold it is, but other than wind, a little freezing drizzle, and cold little slivers of ice hitting my face, I’m still wondering where this thing is and if it is coming at all. I hope it doesn’t, but you know…Mother Nature doesn’t ask me. She’s kinda independent like that. And certainly more in control of the weather than I.

While I sit here wondering if we will see snow this week, I decided to forge ahead on a new series focused on the things we are letting go of this year, as outlined in this post from January. I’m going to spin the “Topic Wheel” (Kinda like the Pitch Perfect Riff Off scene) to see where we land today. While I’m doing that…

Grab a drink. Settle in. The topic for February is…

Songs about sex!

Kidding. Clearly, you didn’t see that scene. Anywho….

I’ve chosen to write about letting go of “The Illusion of Control”. I think this is going to get good and interesting because I’m thinking about me and my fella. He, the ISTJ, and I, the INTJ, think very much alike and we are also two individuals used to being in charge. To add to that mix…if you believe in this sort of thing…he’s a Leo and I’m a Virgo. In other words, we are both independent, determined, logical, and used to things going a particular way. I’m convinced, watching the two of us work through a decision about dinner or the next road trip, that the world is run by INTJs and ISTJs. We decide, we plan, we get going. Boom! How anyone else gets anything done without those two personality types is beyond me. But, as much as I like our similarity, there are times when one of us just simply has to yield to the other. You can have too many head chefs in the kitchen, right? Sometimes I’m right. And sometimes he’s right. The key is affirming that to the other.

For me, this yielding thing doesn’t come naturally. I’ve been operating under the Illusion of Control for so long, that it’s been hard to let go of that constant fear of losing it. And for those of you who think I just made that title up, The Illusion of Control is a real thing. It was named by psychologist Ellen Langer and, according to a highly credible source (Wikipedia), “The illusion of control is the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events, for example, when someone feels a sense of control over outcomes that they demonstrably do not influence.” (Kinda like the character Marty Byrde in Netflix’s “Ozark”.)

The thing is, though, when it comes to my fella…I trust him. I mean, I’ve trusted him enough so far to say “okay” to a lot of things I wouldn’t have before. If you’ve been reading any of my stuff over the past few years, you know that trusting anyone is not easy for me. But there’s somethin’ ’bout this boy. Swoon. As independent and in control as I seem to be most of the time, it is refreshing to stand back and watch someone else run the show. And he does it so well…I just let him do it. I don’t think he’s going to steer me wrong, most of the time. Case in point, the way he asked me out on our first date went like this…

Him: “How do you feel about a real road trip with a semi stranger to go on a quest for whiskey?”
Me, in my head: “Girl. Don’t do it. It’s dangerous. You don’t even really know him. He used to be cop. You know cops are cray-cray.”
Me, out loud: “Um. That sounds terrifying. When do we leave?”

It’s been odd, trusting this guy, because unless my anxiety is yellow-level or higher, I have been able to just…breathe and let go. (Be all in, you know?)

So, we find ourselves here tonight, Loves. And I’ve got a few things that I can offer you as you take the step toward letting go of the Illusion of Control. One of my favorite bloggers, Leo Babauta, wrote his own take on this topic here which is a great read if you want something a bit more Zen. If you’re ready for a little spicier version, most likely sprinkled with cuss words, then please continue…

  1. Trust the process. I’ve said this for years. I’ve even said it to some of you. But it is absolutely true. The Universe only unveils your life’s plan in little segments at a time because It knows that if you knew the whole story upfront…you’d cash out your chips and never finish the game. As hard as it can be at times, I encourage you to have some faith that everything is working out exactly the way it is suppose to in the exact perfect timing for which it was meant to happen. That terrifying road trip guy? He asked me out four years ago. And we met for lunch. And that was that – for various reasons. Something just didn’t click then. And why does it click now? Who the fuck knows. It just does.
  2. Stop petting your peeves. Seriously…sometimes we can be our own worst enemies and we continue to do the same things over and over again expecting a different outcome. Some would say that’s the definition of insanity. And here’s the kicker: You are absolutely choosing to do that. So? Stop that shit already. I have a real life example of this nonsense for ya. There’s a perfectly good highway that takes me from my hometown to the next town over…except I absolutely hate merging onto that highway. I don’t like the drive. I don’t like the traffic. I don’t like seeing the two million square foot “church” on the side of the road…I just don’t like it. So, about mid-December, I started going a different route. I head out by the lake…around the bend…cut through the country…and arrive at my destination calm, cool, and collected. Sure, it takes me few minutes more but since I’ve stopped petting my own peeves, I am simply happier. You, too, can choose differently.
  3. Change the lens. I’ve recently taken up photography and I’m learning what different lenses do for a photograph. The same goes for your life. If you continue looking at your life through the lens of what you think it should look like, you won’t be able to recognize how it could actually look if you looked at it differently. My son believed he only liked cheeseburgers (Plain!) from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Sonic. I’ve told him over and over there are better burgers and he just would not buy it. Until someone else encouraged him to try one at Freddy’s this week. Someone, besides his mother, told him – and I quote – “I think these burgers are really great and I think you’ll like it, too“. He tried it because the lens (person suggesting it) was different.

So, in closing, here’s the deal, kids: You can’t control every aspect of your life. I think even the dumbest of folks understand this at their core. And you are not dumb. You are a fucking rockstar. In fact, you are so much a rockstar that all the members of Aerosmith wish they were you.

So…just take a breath. Inhale the good shit. Exhale the bad shit. Spin the bottle. Just like that fateful childhood game…the outcome may not have been what you thought you wanted but it might just be better than you ever expected.

Leaving you, as always, with a quiet and calm song by Jimmy Buffet. I personally think this song pairs well with a crisp Chardonnay with floral undertones, but alas, I’m on the wagon for a few more weeks. Enjoy the song and have a glass for me. 

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