What is control? In the context of our discussion the dictionary meaning is, “the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.” The reason for control is security, and security comes from being able to protect ourselves, our family and friends, and the environment from harm, uncertainty, and discomfort.
Control also allows us to predict with fairly high degree of accuracy a future event and the outcome of a future event. The way we exert control is by directing other people’s behavior, telling them what we think they want, telling them what we think they should do, and telling them how should they behave. When we see that others are not following our directions, doing things in a way that is different from what we perceive as the correct way, or are not following the advice you just gave them, solicited or not, we perceive lack of control that could result in a range of emotions such as anger, anguish, frustration, and disrespect.
We are always bothered by what others are doing and saying. We are always watching others, telling other people what to do and how to do, and giving advice, most often unsolicited to others. This makes us feel good about ourselves, but doing so causes our well-being to depend on others. Seems like we are constantly bothered and irritated by what others are doing, the way they are doing things, and things would be better for us only if they did whatever it is they are doing in a way, our way, that we believe will cause us less botheration. In our own mind we are formulating thoughts about how things ought to be, “Wish they did it the other way, because it is better and more efficient.” “Did they even bother to think about now this will affect me?” We seem to be writing scripts for everybody every moment of every day.
We are all trying to write somebody else’s script because we believe that by writing a script for others and hoping that they follow your script, we will be happy, peaceful, and experience a sense of accomplishment. When we do this, our happiness now depends on somebody doing things in a certain way at a certain time. This indicates a loss of control in our own life. Is it possible, when we see something someone else is doing, to stop reacting in the normal way and just tell ourselves “Let it be and let it go?”
The moment you believe that your sense of well-being depends on somebody else, you have ceded control of your lives. You have decided not to take full responsibility and blame outside elements for all that is not right in your own lives. Imagine for a minute that you decided to write your own script and stop expenditure of energy on writing scripts for everyone else in your lives. What would that look like?
Let me pause for a minute and ask you how successful have you been in changing other people – children, spouse, friends, and co-workers? The truth of the matter is that you cannot change others. The only person you can change is you. This naturally begs the question, “Shouldn’t you be focusing on yourself and making changes in your life that serve you better?” Once you start writing a script for you, everything else will fall into place automatically.
When somebody comes to you for advice, or need an answer to fix their problem, or complain about a third person, the one thing that you can do to empower them is coach them. Don’t be a problem solver, be the coach and help them find their inner power to deal with their challenges. Don’t get dragged into the drama triangle.
When you focus on others and write a script you wish they would follow, you are using your energy, thus depleting the finite energy reservoir you and we all have. Now less energy is available for you to do things that you want to do, need to do, and like to do, things that will give you more pleasure, happiness, and satisfaction. When less is available for you to do things you want to do, how good will the output of your efforts be? When the quality of output suffers, it is natural for you to get frustrated, self-judge, and blame everything and everyone around you thus depleting more of the precious energy which is already in short supply. Thus, you get sucked into a vortex of the self-defeating process that continues to deplete more of your energy and takes a heavy physical and emotional toll on you. When you stop writing script for others and use the energy within for things that give you pleasure, happiness, and satisfaction such as self-care, hobbies, physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being, you become embodiment of all that is pure, peaceful, admirable, and the only thing worth idolizing and respecting.
This requires a change in our deeply rooted behaviors, and as such, requires awareness, self-management, and discipline in our thoughts, perceptions, and actions. The principles and steps of Kriya yoga will help bring about this change. Once Kriya yoga is embraced, with determination, discipline, practice, and perseverance you can bring about any change that you wish to in your personal lives. Repeated practice will help you gain mastery over the art of change. There will be setbacks, because our deeply rooted habits and behaviors have had years to take root. But setbacks can be overcome with determination and discipline and over time new habits that serve you better take hold within you. As you develop awareness, and realize that some of your old habits do not have as much hold on you as they used to, or have completely disappeared to be replaced by others that you desire and serve you better, you will naturally develop the motivation to continue down the path of self-development. Over time, the desire to control is replaced by ability to influence and the ability to be a detached observer. When you reach this stage, you are able to navigate through life with calm, peace, happiness, and total awareness.
I like to use the metaphor of a river to describe our lives. Imagine a river that is flowing from its source towards the ocean. Along the way all living creatures that come into contact with the river are nourished by the river. Lots of creatures including humans depend on the river for sustenance. The river itself has no particular attachment for any one creature, but is giving all it has to nourish others. Let your lives be like the river. The purpose of your lives should be to nourish all those you share your lives with. Give away all that you have and can without attachment or expectation of rewards. Like the river, keep flowing and don’t remain stagnant. Let go of control!
About Kammitment: Led by scientist and life-coach Kamalesh (Kam) Rao, Kammitment helps you realize and make a commitment towards self-actualization, through tailored leadership coaching, workshops and programs for students and professionals in all stages of their lives, by drawing upon the time-tested principles of Yoga and Mindfulness. Kam has spent 20 years as a scientist and a manufacturing professional in the pharmaceuticals industry, and continues to consult with the industry. In his free time he leads executive coaching programs for Fortune 100 clients. A certified Yoga instructor, Kam lives in Oakland, CA and is an Improv actor who also enjoys Salsa dancing when he is not perfecting the next Pretzel pose in Yoga. For further information, please email [email protected]