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The Trouble with Control

sandNot so many weeks ago I wrote a post called “It’s Okay to Not Know What to Do.”

I really loved this title – and I loved being able to share an “aha moment” I had about letting go of the need to control everything – even if it was just for one instant.

Unfortunately, that solitary “aha moment” passed all too quickly and didn’t bring friends or reinforcements, so it seems we’re back to strangling again.

Yesterday I had a conversation with my mentor regarding giving up control – or lack thereof.

The trouble is, in the culture I grew up in, maintaining control was rewarded. It was seen as a good thing. My perfectionistic nature kept me out of trouble at school, got me noticed in my music studies, and earned praise from my parents and peers.

It also got me into heaps of trouble with an eating disorder for many years, but as it turns out, a person really can recover from a serious health issue like anorexia without relinquishing all their other controlling tendencies too.

Or at least they can if they are me.

Now I find myself in a position where there are more grey areas in my life than any other color. Grey – unless it is found on my pet parrot’s feathers – is NOT my favorite color.

But it would seem leadership is like that – full of grey – and so is adulthood. In the grey places of this world, vulnerability (not control) is the critical component required for success.

All of which means that, at least in my world these days, every single day is a study in letting go, opening up, trusting within and without, forgiving and being forgiven, learning, forgetting and re-learning, and other equally uncomfortable daily experiences.

I so so SO want to hold on. It feels like the “responsible” thing to do – the KIND thing to do – the “adult” thing to do.

The rules in my life up until now have been as follows: Don’t burden others with questions, doubts, grey areas. Know – then ask. Decide – then act. “Always be over-prepared” – that has been my lifelong motto (I probably would have been a great Eagle Scout – at least if they had accepted girls and I wasn’t so afraid of snakes, spiders, and most all things “nature”).

But today, remaining determined to be in control no matter what has increasingly become an obstacle to my abilities to achieve practically everything else.

I have read that awareness is knowledge and knowledge is power – and power is the ability to choose, whether the choice is towards more of the same or something new.

I don’t really know how to give up control (and if I am being honest, I don’t really want to know, either) but I do believe it is necessary – as a leader, as a lover, as a friend, and as a truly responsible member of our ever-evolving, still-learning shared world.

Today’s Takeaway: Giving up control is challenging enough on its own, but to do it in real-time – in the midst of an ever-changing life where decisions must be made, questions must be answered, relationships must be nurtured (or dissolved) – that appears to be the real trick! What challenges do you face in “giving up control” – and what benefits do you perceive you gain by becoming willing to do so?

Meditation image available from Shutterstock.

The Trouble with Control

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Songwriter. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2019). The Trouble with Control. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Mar 2019
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