What would it take to surrender?

I would say I have a ~thing with “control.” I say thing, and put the ~ next to it, to denote that I am not quite sure what my stance on control is.

There are many ways to define control. I am thinking about it in this context as the act of trying to “manage” a situation. I find that I still have an urge, in nearly all situations I am in, to try and “manage them.”

Do you know what I mean? I am talking about when I feel ~neurotic/anxious in an environment such that I over-communicate and over-worry such that I am trying to control what other people are thinking. I talk a healthy amount (probably an above healthy amount if what I mean to say). I try to make sure people are comfortable and no one is upset at me (more on this in a moment).

The trying to control and manage the room basically never works because, well, I cannot control other people (we know that!). Sure, I can persuade them and dissuade their concerns. But can I control their feelings fully? No way (just as they are not really able to control mine).

Surely there are times where managing a situation is a good thing. In fact, it is a useful skill that you can apply in business and life.

But doing it all the time—that is exhausting and takes a toll on your emotions.

So do I do it all the time? Honestly, I would say I do it closer to all the time than none of the time. And I think I do it as a habitual piece stemming from my childhood. My parents growing up (before divorce) used to argue a lot in the house. I think I would be hyperaware of their moods and try to “manage situations” such that I would prevent arguments. I have never articulated this before—not intentionally at least—but it honestly makes a lot of sense to me as a traumatic theory explaining why I care so much about managing situations.

I try to fix things. I try to fix people. I try with good intentions. But the outcomes are not effective a lot of the time. Yes, I am being hard on myself—sometimes the outcomes are good and people appreciate that. But a lot of the time, more times than I would like, they are not. And they are not, because, well, I AM TRYING TOO HARD TO FIX THINGS AT THE COGNITIVE LEVEL AND SOMETIMES PEOPLE ARE OPERATING AT THE EMOTIONAL LEVEL.

This capitalization is not screaming. It is emphasis. Emphasis to say that I think SURRENDERING to the situation rather than trying to fix everything would be a better strategy to employ in many people related contexts.

It turns out that directly pursuing the cognitive solve—”hey, are you mad at me? how are you feeling? What is wrong? Etc.” sometimes actually upsets people more than helps them. Why? Well, I could try to explain but maybe they are just having a bad day. Maybe they have a personal thing going on. Maybe they are tired. Who knows?!

I cannot fix everything. Surrendering to that idea—that I cannot manage the mood of every person—is powerful.

Why is that scary?

I think it is scary because I sometimes feel insecure. I sometimes feel nervous—what if they are upset with me is a good example prompt?

I think the simple answer is: “who REALLY CARES?” They can be upset, they will get over it. It is not that I am out there doing things to really hurt others. It just my default to MASSIVELY MANAGE THE SITUATION (with groups or relationships or just people in general) is not very effective (and is tiring).

Letting go. Surrendering. What would that look like? Yes, scary, but what if I did it. What if I was not the main character in every story I was in? What if I was just watching on the side?

I have done at least some of the cognitive work—aka reading books and writing and meditating—on topics of “the way of Zen” (a la Alan Watts) and the power of “This is Water.” I have told myself to accept reality. I have written myself to accept the way the world works. I have tried, even for just a few moments, to reposition the camera angle _away_ from being the center-stage character and towards being an observer or NPC of sorts.

I would not say nothing has really stuck—for example, I am now far more open to and agreeable to the notion that I am not able to change other people. This took me YEARS of mental strain—literally depressive episodes and periods of me crying uncontrollably because I could not figure out how to get other people to do what I wanted (not in a maniacal or machiavellian sense but rather just an acceptance that NO WORDS I COULD SAY would get the outcome I wanted). Now, this latter claim is different—getting people to do what you want is certainly possible (and the study of persuasion and negotiation may help you do this well). I am talking about in this context around fundamentally changing people’s identities. Anyways, back to the meat—what do I mean by nothing has really stuck?

Well, I mean to say that my ACCEPTANCE of SURRENDERING CONTROL is not something that comes easy to me (nobody said it would man I tell myself). Beyond that, it is not something that I really understand.

But maybe it does not come easy to anyone. Maybe it is supposed to be hard. Surrendering control of the situation does not mean you surrender control forever—sure you could—but what if it was just a temporary condition. Is that comforting? It is a bit to me. I just want to surrender control for 30 minutes at a time to start. Just during one conversation. Let the other person drive. Let the other person dictate the outcome. I could superhero—which is a thing I have certainly tried to do in the past—but let’s just see. The stakes are low. The emotions do not have to be intense.


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