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Control: Part one

Control, is that selfish little desire that sneaks up on all of us. Why? What is it about control that we want—Power! Let me give a little background about antecedents, behaviors, and consequences. I have been learning throughout my life what a simple phrase, “free agency” (the ability to choose) really means. It means that no matter the circumstance (or antecedent) I have the ability to choose what my behavior (positively or negatively) will be. I can have an action or reaction to the antecedent, and depending on my behavior I might have some influence on the consequence that follows one of my actions/behaviors. Consequence is simply the result of my behavior.

With the background of “behaviors” behind us, let’s look again at the word, Control. Control--it is powerful. I am human and have follies just like the rest of us. I tried to control many aspects of my life from family/ friendships (oops—free agency) to the weather (snow at Christmas and so forth). Talk about constantly being disappointed. The antecedent of not having snow for Christmas was nothing I could control, yet my behaviors of moping around, crying, or being grumpy I could have controlled. I could have just allowed the weather to be as it was and found excitement in the moment instead of painting a “perfect picture” of what I thought would be the best and that I could ONLY be happy if it was just like that.

As I’ve gotten older, I have realized I can let go of the control in many aspects of my life. Let’s just say I’m proving. Unfortunately I have been struggling with one control factor in my life—who am I kidding this is going to turn into a three part series, but for now, I’ll tackle one. It is time to confess. The PANTRY! The PANRTY! Wow, I believe I just yelled that out. Here are the problems: 1) organizing the food so that I know what we have and what I need to buy, 2) two adorable 2 and 3 year olds who think that the cans in the pantry are their toys and that they need to take them and stack the food on the counters, beds, couches, and so forth, and 3) 9 other family members who are looking for food to eat. See my flaw?

The flaw is that I have no control of other people’s behaviors. I could set out rules about this soup flavor goes here, and when the sugar is below this line refill and so forth, but honestly, I don’t have the energy or time for any of that. So, yesterday I found myself starting to lecture about the pantry as I was trying to organize it. I soon found out that I had chased away everyone and that I was just ranting ALONE in my unorganized pantry. Can I just say how stupid I felt? My brain actually played back the visual of how I envisioned everyone rolling their eyes, sighing, and walking away—um, embarrassing.

So, since I’m a doer and a fixer, I could lay out the rules of the pantry, but the problem with that would be, I don’t really have an order or set of rules other than “have it look like we can find everything that we need in it” rule. As a special education teacher who writes tangible and measurable goals, I’m pretty sure this is neither of these! Another option is to just straighten it up on a daily basis so that it doesn’t get out of control, or the third option is to yell and rant at why no one is living up to the perfect vision in my head—that I didn’t tell them about. HA!

In the end, I will have to discipline myself to stick to the plan that I straighten it up on a daily basis so that I have peace in the family. I can control my attitude towards the mess by signing a “happy little working song.” And let’s face it, I can’t expect others to know what the picture in my head of the “perfect panty” is when I, myself, isn’t really sure. Have I given up control? A little—I am going to control how I respond and react to the mess and the un-organization. That is a choice that I can make.

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