One of my favorite sayings is “control the control-ables”. When we take a good hard look at life, the only thing we really have control over is our self. This includes our emotions and the drama we often create because of our emotions.
Often we will get pissed off at some who said or did something. This is reflected in statements such as: “Can you believe he/she said (or did) ___?!?!” Even if that person intended no harm by their action or statement, our interpretation adamantly becomes our truth. Rarely do we take a step back to assess the role we play in our own interpretation, nor do we consider the possibility that we might be wrong. If we are willing to take a deeper delve, we have to accept that our values, culture, beliefs and interpretations are what give things personal meanings and this triggers emotional responses.
Having gone through a divorce, as part of my healing and transformation, I often take inventory and assess many situations and though I would like to believe that I was always perfect, the painful truth is this was never so. I have to take ownership for the low self-esteem that I took into the relationship (and other quirks), and realize it ALL contributed to the “funk” in that relationship. So when my ex would bring up issues that would make me explode, I’d question why he was doing that to me and often believed that his existence was to hurt me over and over again. During all of the drama I never stopped to think that I had some inner work to do. Essentially, I forgot what the control-ables really were.
Many times I would take a question such as, “You didn’t work out today?” and completely blow it out of proportion. I’d get defensive and complain that if he helped more, I’d have more time. I might take it as a fireball at my weight challenges and explode into tears, or I might take the passive aggressive route and not speak to him for the next day or so. The truth is I was assigning the meaning to his question based on my own insecurities, beliefs and feelings (none of these had anything to do with him or anyone else for that matter). The control-able was screaming so loudly, yet I was not able to hear it.
My interpretation may also have been from my own guilt for not having the courage to put myself first and not making my well-being a priority. Or perhaps I was resentful, for not having the help I needed and not having the courage to do something about it. Instead of recognizing this, it felt better to dump my wrath all over him and try to control him (definitely NOT a control-able-- the school of hard knocks taught me that one).
Am I saying that no one ever does anything without malicious intent? No, not necessarily. What I am saying is another’s actions are their control-ables, and how I respond is up to me. I have, however, come to believe that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have (emotionally, physically and materially) at any given time. We might argue that this is not the case, but if we walked a mile in another’s tracks, we might gain some insight. The trouble creeps in when we have our own expectations, which we base on our experiences, beliefs, emotions and “stuff”!
When I look at the question my ex asked me and take all of this into account, I consider other options. Perhaps it was his attempt at making conversation, or maybe he was making note of a change in my patterns, or just maybe(in a high squeaky pitch) he was going to offer some help so I could exercise (ha ha…this IS my dream :) !). I’ll never know, but I can’t control that, nor can I change any of it.
What I can do is take into account my own beliefs, thoughts and emotions (my control-ables) when I take offense to someone else’s words or actions. I know what my sensitivities are, and I have the power to assess these and own up to them. Realizing that I’ve taken offense is the first step, then I am able to question why I feel the way I do.
Though I cannot say that I don’t have the occasional outburst of sensitivity (even if it is internal), I find myself asking myself what I can control in the situation. I have discovered that I take less and less offense to others actions and comments, which also opens channels for better communication and reduced misunderstandings.