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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Tucker Bain - Author

Confessions of a Recovering Control Freak

I am a recovering control freak. I am the girl that when a checkbook was a thing had to balance it to the penny before I could go to sleep EVERY night. No lie. That WAS me. There are other things that I have obsessed about as well. Our recent move. The move before that. Jobs. Relationships. Replaying conversations and what I should have or should NOT have said. Health. Weight. The list goes on.

I think people that try to control things have experienced out of control situations. Sometimes tumultuous situations. That is the case for me anyway. If only I had a remote control for this thing called life!

It's funny because I know better.

There is never any guarantee that anything will work out the way that we plan or the way that we hope it will. That is where taking giant leaps of faith comes in. They don’t even have to be giant steps really. To a control freak, even baby steps sometimes feel really big.

In the past, making decisions overwhelmed me. I would evaluate every choice to death to mitigate my risk and to have CONTROL of my outcome. It was exhausting. I am not saying that caution and due diligence are pointless. They definitely have purpose. They protect us from careless mistakes. They make us slow down and slowing down in this fast-paced world is a very good thing. However, caution and due diligence to a control freak can be a place to hide. A safe place where we hang out because everything is going along just fine. Is just fine enough? Even when I was hanging out on Just Fine Lane, things still happened that were out of my control – undesirable things that I ultimately had to deal with even though I had done everything in my power to avoid the unpleasantness.

People can eat right, exercise and think positive and still die tragic deaths all too soon. Disease. Accidents. We can balance our finances daily and have a fake confidence or comfort that seeing we are in the black provides. Then, the main water line to the house breaks and suddenly you are out 15k. Didn’t see that coming! We do all the right things yet out of nowhere we get blindsided by life. Yet we live.

A control freak feels frustrated and anxious all of the time. We hold onto things too tightly. We suffocate joy.

How do you recover from being a control freak? I am diving into this much deeper elsewhere but wanted to share a few thoughts here. You learn to control the things you can to the best of your ability. You learn what those things are. You learn what they aren’t. You realize that there is never a moment that you can control another person unless they allow you to do so.

You experience life. You make it to the other side of your storms and look in the mirror. You may have some scars (visible or invisible), but you made it. You are still standing or maybe you are crawling, but you go forward.

You learn that control and influence are very different. Control is when someone has a desired outcome in mind and believes that they have the ability to make it so.

Influence is when we have a desired outcome in mind and accept that we can do certain things to make that outcome more likely but still not guaranteed.

Control as a word make me think of force, power, stress, rigidity, dominance. Influence, on the other hand, makes me think of guiding, and nurturing. Many people use these words interchangeably, but they can be quite opposites of one another.

As a writer, forcing the words leads to no words on a page. Allowing them to flow is where masterpieces come from.

Yesterday, I sat down to write and was in my “control” mindset. I stared blankly at my flashing cursor. I smiled and walked away. I made my bed and said out loud, “Not my words but yours. What would you have me say?” In that instant, I heard “Confessions of a Recovering Control Freak.”

I would like to tell you that I have RECOVERED. That would be a lie. I am a work in progress. RECOVERING. One step at a time. One day at a time. I do my best, my very best in all things. I do not do just enough to get by and accept that my outcome is as good as it gets. I do my very best and then I look to my outcome and see if it is possible to do more or to do something different and if not, I let it go. I breathe. I regroup and DECIDE how to best move forward. That is within my control.

I know that good things happen, bad things happen, and I look to Heaven and thank God that He is with me through it all.

Other days, I pull the covers over my head and eat a pint of ice cream and cuddle puppies. It’s called balance.

More musings…of my soul,


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