At some point it becomes necessary to realize that spiritual Power rests in giving up the issue of control as an attempt to control people outside yourself. Gregge Tiffen (The Power of Giving Thanks – November, 2007)
On some level most of us know that controlling others doesn’t work. We’ve had experiences in close relationships, jobs, and organizations that show us this up close and personal. The violence, chaos, and crises in the world reflect attempts of one group or country to control another. Our own culture of consumerism and competition, even politics, reflect attempts to control.
It wasn’t until I looked at an event in my own life this week through the lens of Gregge Tiffen’s quote above that I began to understand the high personal cost of my own efforts to control things outside of me.
This week I was reminded that trying to control others and situations involving others takes me away from being me and lands me square in a place of exhaustion – physically, mentally, and spiritually. In hindsight, I realized that allowing myself to skip the most important part of my day, my morning quiet time, set me on this particular path to stress.
In my quest to provide an awesome experience for my bed and breakfast guests this week, I forgot that others and situations are not mine to control. An early morning plumbing problem in the shared guest bath, combined with a talkative guest in one room and a quiet guest in the other, found me trying to control the volume of conversation, which logs went on the fire, while I dealt with an overflowing toilet.
The plumbing problem fixed itself. Guests had their breakfast and happily moved on into their day. The clock read just shy of 10am. I was tired and found it difficult to focus my thoughts and energy on the day’s work that I wanted to accomplish.
I slogged through that day and the next, still experiencing feeling tired and unfocused. A day later, in the quiet of my morning reflection time, I read Gregge’s words above. The dots were connected and I realized the source of the drain on my focus and energy. I learned yet again the futility of trying to control others. And, I learned its cost:
Attempting to use your power to control others is exhausting.
This point of reflection leads me to wonder whether and how collective exhaustion in society contributes to creating the chaos we witness daily. What might be possible in our world with just a bit more time and effort for quiet, personal reflection and the peace and personal power evoked from that awareness?