Control. A word that most of us firmly believe should be a four-letter word. A cuss word. Obscene and foul language. Just a nasty word, in general. We need it, we lack it, we need to practice it, yet we often cringe when we hear it. It brings up many negative emotions and yet it’s a necessary thing.
There are things we can’t control and things we can. Things we can control but shouldn’t and things we don’t want to control but need to. People try to control each other and yet not themselves. There’s self-control, control of others, animal control, even remote controls.
What does all of this even mean? How do we make sense of this and make it works for us and not against us?
For much of our life, someone had complete control over everything we did, didn’t do, ate, didn’t eat, where we went, how we got there, who we talked to, when we talked to them, what we said, and why. We didn’t have self-control because it wasn’t necessary. There was nothing left for any of us to control. We weren’t even allowed to control our own reactions to things.
We now have about 3 years under our belts of learning control. We choose our own foods. (Side note: Do you have any idea how hard it is to decide what you actually like and not just what you’ve been told you like?) We try new things and we each control what we try. We write and we decide when and what we write about. We chat with friends online, although how much time we spend online is regulated by mom. (Side note #2: We lack self-control. Working on that one.) We decide when we are hungry and decide what to eat. Sometimes mom will ask whoever is front to re-think a choice based on health goals or blood sugar numbers, but the choice is still ours.
Self-control is a tougher one, and something all of us are struggling with. When we want something it is hard to decide how much we want and how much effort to put into it. It tends to fall into the all-or-nothing category. It doesn’t help matters any that we try to treat all 60+ of us the same and that won’t work because we are not the same. We are different and require different methods to help us each succeed and thrive. Self-control becomes a little messy and requires outside sources to help us manage and then it’s not really truly self-control anymore, is it?
Some days some of us still want someone to just control everything. And there are some of us who want to control everything and lead us down some very dangerous paths. A lot of this is left over from not being able to control events of the past because you can not always control what happens to you. Not being able to control what happens to you causes endless amounts of anxiety, fear, and poor choices.
What we’re learning through intentional peer support, meditation, and Celebrate Recovery is that even though you can’t control what happens to you, once you are old enough you can always control how you react to it. There’s where you hold the power. You hold the power of your reactions and no one can take that power away from you. It’s something that I find peaceful and I know many in our system do too.
-Jenna, Bella, Rachel