There is something that seems to be sort of a catch phrase in our house, "You can't control the people around you, you can only control your reaction to them." I am sure that it isn't a huge surprise that with 4 kids so close in age, there are at times, arguments like;
- She is sitting too close to me.
- He is looking out my window.
- She keeps singing the same song over and over.
- He is looking at me.
- She is breathing too loud.
- He is...insert complaint of the moment.
I get it, kids will be kids. I try to encourage them to approach the situation more easily by telling them the phrase mentioned above. While it may seem like it is directed towards them, in reality I am saying it to myself.
The deeper I delve into my yoga practice, the more I work on my svadhyaya (my self study - meaning both to study by myself, and to study myself), the more able I am to come to some pretty profound truths about myself. Realizing my need for control has been a hard pill to swallow; I am not sure why.
Growing up, it is no secret, I struggled with my mental health (let's be completely honest, I still struggle with it, although my yoga practice seems to lessen the intensity). I was diagnosed with severe chronic depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive tendencies, which makes it seem funny to me that I didn't know that I liked to control things. My husband used to point out to me when I would be dealing with different situations that I was just trying to be in control. This would always infuriate me. Until one day it didn't, because I realized that he was being truthful. I did indeed have a habit of trying to control everything around me. I don't think that I was trying to control the people as a means to be in a position of power, I believe that it was my attempt to lessen my anxiety by controlling the situations that arose.
Insert that little family catch phrase or mantra here. "You can't control the people around you, you can only control your reaction to them." If we expand on this just a little bit ( which I do internally every time that I say it), then it could become, "We can't control what happens around us, we can only control our actions and reactions." I imagine this in a large scale scenes. Like, picturing myself trying to control the weather. The more I let this sink in, the less weight I feel like I am carrying. Surrendering to the truth in this thought is powerful. Instead of focusing on things that are out of my control, I focus on the fact that my actions and reactions have an impact, sometimes small, sometimes large.
Even when it comes to my children this is true. I focus on what my role is, what I am responsible for. I have come to know, that in reality, I can not and should not control my kids. I have no power in the choices that they make. I have no power over what they chose to believe. I do however have influence. I have (hopefully) control over the way I conduct myself, I can set clear boundaries in our house, and have consequences set in place for their choices. But in the end, the choices are theirs to make. The lessons are theirs to learn. There are parts of this journey that I will just have to sit back and watch unfold.