Control is Safe and Predictable.

Worry gripped my heart as a child. My grandparents lived in a beautiful little town that sat down in a picturesque valley east of my hometown. The road to their house spilled over the side of volcanic rimrock and traced the curves of the hillside all the way to the bottom. Every time at the crest of the hill I would sing out the name of the town at the first moment I could see it waiting for me down below. I was overjoyed to spend the day with my grandparents.

After a lovely day, Dad picked me up, and we started up the hill to climb out of the valley and begin our 18-mile journey home.  Our big 1969 yellow Chevy Suburban was a real off-road vehicle built to go long distances in the wilderness because it had two gas tanks. But the only catch was the broken gas gauge; masking the ability to know exactly how much gas was in the tank. As we rounded one of the last curves heading up the hill, “The Sub” began to sputter, cough and lurch. Instantly, I started to panic. Hyperventilating as I wondered what was happening to our car, I was certain that something was wrong and we were about to crash. At that moment it didn’t matter that my dad was an excellent driver and could fix any part of that suburban with his eyes closed. I was scared. My father urged me to calm down as he waited for a break in traffic and flipped a U-Turn to descend back down the hill.  We had no gas, but enough velocity that we coasted right to a gas station at the bottom of the hill. We were just fine, but I was a wreck. I realized then that I don’t like being at the mercy of events outside my control.

Need for control is one of the reasons I subconsciously seek perfection. When I know what is happening in my life (who, what, where, why, how) I feel safe because I can predict the majority of potential outcomes. Being motivated to control my life is a type of defense but, it is not realistic. I understand that there is no practical way to have all of the information for every situation up front, so instead of just jumping in, I sit out on the sidelines.

Tomorrow, I continue to explore the concept of control as a motivation in seeking perfection.

Do you find the need to be in control of your life? If so, what drives this desire? How do you deal with being “out of control?”

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