Are You A Control Freak? How to move past the Illusion of Control

I am a control freak. It’s why I don’t like getting drunk, I follow the rules, and I expect others to as well. It’s why I love order and discipline in the world, even while I’d rather sometimes that it was my rules everyone followed. And it is why I have my very own “bwahahahaha” evil villain laugh on the off-chance I become supreme ruler of the world: I’m prepared.

But, I am also a writer and someone who loves the sometimes random, unexpected places creativity can take us. It’s why I love dying silk and hand-painting wool, because despite what our desires may have been, we sometimes get something else entirely, and it is still beautiful, perhaps more so because it is unexpected, unplanned. It’s this same creativity and freedom that I love in my writing (sometimes), when the characters and the plot take you somewhere you hadn’t planned on, but it’s so much better.

That, of course, is the catch: how much do you get to control, and how much should you even try?

The simple answer is that control is a complete illusion. I can control nothing but myself and my own reactions, and sometimes even those seem to have a life of my own. To attempt to control anyone else –  their reactions, their emotions, their actions – this is an illusion that’s going to make us all miserable.

How does this apply to our art? Well, sometimes when we create something, we get caught up in the idea of wanting to convey something so precisely, so perfectly – like the scent of a flower, or the feel of a place – that we want to hammer that exact reaction and emotion we have into our readers or outside viewers. This, of course, is an impossibility, and the sooner we let it go, the better.

Yet again, this comes back to our creation of reality. What I see as a peach rose touched with the blush of pink on the tips of the petals may to someone else appear more orange, or more pink, or perhaps they don’t see the beauty of roses at all because it reminds them of an aunt who they always despised. The laugh we hear in our heads, the way some things constrict our chest with fear, these are out of our own experiences, our own memories, our own selves: no one else will ever, nor can ever, experience or see them quite the same.

So where does that leave a control freak like me, and perhaps you?

Recognize the limits of your control, and let the rest go (yes, even if it’s really, really hard). Describe how it felt to you, how it sounds to you, and be as specific and clear as you can be without going overboard, and let it be, knowing that everyone else will understand it, hear it, feel it in their own way. Give them the freedom to do so, rather than trying to force anything onto them: after all, would you want to be controlled by someone else, be subjected to the discomfort of confinement? Of course not.

Practice your “bwahahahaha’s,” control the exact degree of temperature in your house, and the way the tablecloth lays on the tablecloth, but as to controlling people, just let it go. Everyone has a unique and precious perspective, and even a control freak wouldn’t want to squash that, would they?

So, are you a control freak? What areas of your life must you exact control, and in which do you value freedom and randomness? Do comment below.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Advertisements