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How to Make Friends with the Grey

checkI’m not too fond of the term “control freak.”

First of all, it doesn’t sound flattering.

It also doesn’t sound like anything I’d want to use to introduce myself to new people – “Hi, I’m Shannon and I’m a control freak.” I doubt I’d make many (any) new friends.

Plus, I definitely never set out to become a freak about controlling anything, so to be honest, the label feels more like an accusation than a source of insight.

Finally, I can’t recall any specific complaints about my early efforts to bring in good grades, distinguish myself in music, nab scholarships, or other such endeavors that others might have been tempted to label as “controlling.”

In fact, it wasn’t until the whole eating disorder thing arose that anyone starting seeing my goal to be the best at whatever I did as a bad thing.

Once that occurred, everything changed.

In the years since, I have begun to see this inner tension between all or nothing, good or bad, black or white, light or dark, success or failure, as roadsigns pointing me to a new place – a middle ground – where I can live in peace, free from the pressure to choose either/or, go this way or that, label myself as one thing or another.

For instance, I never knew until recently that every random awful thought my mind decides to kick up doesn’t define who I am as a person. I didn’t tell my mind to think all those thoughts – it just thought them up anyway. And I don’t have to try to control my mind every second (which is totally impossible anyway) so it will never think a thought I don’t want to claim.

Rather, I can just ignore the thoughts I don’t like, and in time, like floating clouds, they will go away on their own.

In the same way, every time I perceive a beautiful piece of art or music or verse arising within me, it doesn’t mean I have to drop everything and rush out to make it happen in my “real life” or I will be a “failure.” It is already real in my spirit, in my heart – just by being able to see it, it is already real.

Just being able to visualize such beautiful creativity is more than enough.

Slowly, in this way, I am learning to make friends with the “grey” – the in-between where each pair of opposites meets and finds in each other a new faithful friend.

I am learning that each opposite, and all the shades in between, are not judges or condemners, but rather are my teachers, guides, and trusted mentors.

Today’s Takeaway: How do you feel about our culture’s use of the phrase “control freak?” Do you feel like the label adds anything to our life together? What is your own relationship with control in your life?

Man with a check mark image available from Shutterstock.

How to Make Friends with the Grey

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. (2014). How to Make Friends with the Grey. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 10, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 May 2014
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