Letting Go of Control

Most of what I teach came to me in the guise of difficult lessons. I’ve had to learn some of them over and over.

Letting go of control is one. Does this scenario seem familiar? You ask someone to do something for you and, while they are doing it, you are coaching them (Coaching is too nice a word for it; you are actually telling them how to do it!) The other day, I asked my partner Allen to find a rental car for our trip. As he was on the phone with the rental car company, I was interrupting his conversation to feed him information I thought he might overlook.


So what is this control all about? It’s far too easy to say, “Well, it’s a matter of trust. You don’t trust others to do it right.” Certainly that could be one component but, in this case, I DID trust him to do it right. I think there’s something stronger at work here.

In analyzing my behavior, I had to consider just how often I do this. The answer, my friends, was not pretty. Over the years, my track record has improved, but I still do it more often than I’m comfortable with. As I look at myself, I realize that the reason for any improvement is because my self-esteem has grown. What’s the connection?

Consider, if you will, that people who are the most controlling actually feel the least deserving of receiving assistance or support from others. When I behave in a controlling way, it’s because I feel uncomfortable having asked someone to do that task for me and, because I’m uncomfortable, I jump in to “help” so the task is easier for them. Control then, is often a desire to make things easier for others so our “guilt” is appeased.

The problem is, the recipients of this “help” don’t see it that way – they view it as a lack of trust. In the worst case scenario, they interpret your behavior as meaning that you actually believe them incapable of doing what you’ve asked.

How does this relate to the Law of Attraction that says, “You attract what you focus on”?

I’m so glad you asked.

If we are uncomfortable having others do for us (even if we’re not conscious of it), we focus on finding reasons to do it ourselves. How many times have you heard yourself say, “It’s quicker and easier just to do it myself!”? We justify doing it ourselves by finding fault in how others do what we ask. As we continue to focus on, “It’s easier to do it myself,” we find ourselves without any help at all.

We get to be right. And alone.

If you want to become less controlling, it’s important to start by asking yourself why it is that you’re uncomfortable having others do for you. Ironically, the most controlling people I know derive the most pleasure from doing for others. Unfortunately, they deprive others of the same pleasure by their own inability to accept support.

Here is a simple exercise. (I didn’t say easy, I said simple). The next time you ask someone to do something for you, GET OUT OF THE WAY!!! Do not volunteer any additional data unless they ask you for it. Do not do any “coaching.” If they struggle, let them struggle. Isn’t that the way you learned? If they do it differently than you would, so what? Who says your way is best? And if they do it incorrectly, can it be corrected? Of course it can.

If you want to attract supportive people, you have to start by being supportable. And you must understand that most people are happy to do what you ask– but NOT if you’re going to breathe down their necks while they’re doing it!

You don’t tell waitresses how to serve you (at least most of you don’t!). You allow the workers who pick up your trash to do it alone. You’re happy to let the power company deliver your electricity. We allow others to support us when we know they can do it without our help. Start realizing that those closest to you CAN do it without you. In fact, they’d probably do it a lot better without all your “help.”

I invite all of us to begin looking at the world through a different set of eyes. Begin looking for all the ways you allow others to support you so you know you can actually do it. In fact, you do it every day.

Focus on how much support you already receive and accept, then watch how much more comes your way!

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