Humans are not very predictable creatures. Their behavior is governed by their emotions and instincts and the problem is that their emotions change and most of their behaviors are subconscious, so they cannot be fully understood by others.
This inability to predict how others will react makes people a bit anxious about their relationships and to overcome this feeling, they try to control the world around them. They try to control situations, events and other people’s behaviors, words and actions in a desperate attempt to control the outcome.
The desire to control the outcome means you have an attachment to the outcome. Stating your desired outcome to others puts pressure on them to achieve it and usually means you are feeling out of control. Many parents fall into that trap in their parenting style. They make their mind up to “help” their kids reach an outcome and they do everything they can to achieve it.
Wanting things to happen is not a problem. Even wanting them to happen in a certain way it is not so bad. The problem is when you will do anything to get there, even if it means jeopardizing your relationships with others or making them feel bad.
Controlling is always a sign of insecurity and feeling powerless, helpless and out of control. After all, if you have the power, why would you keep seeking it?
People use different methods to control their life:
- Develop perfectionism to make sure that things will always happen the same way, because that is much more predictable and safe.
- Complain to make others change their behavior to fit what the complainer wants.
- Criticize – this method is a higher version of complaint. In this method, the criticizing person considers him/herself in a higher position and measures others by his or her own personal standards, while presenting them as absolute.
Let go of perfectionism
Once you accept the fact that you’re not perfect, then you develop some confidence
– Rosalynn Carter
I always say that perfectionism is one of the prisons of the mind, because it sets you up for constant disappointment from yourself and others. Perfectionists are very hard on themselves, as well as others. Let this attitude go and set yourself free.
Recognize the attachment to a desired outcome. Every expectation you have that is not met is an attachment. Learn acceptance and forgiveness methods and develop your appreciation of diversity. It will help you develop many new, happy and fulfilling relationships and bring you to a place where your mind is at peace with the world around you.
I hope the quotes about perfectionism will help you let it go.
Striving for excellence motivates you. Striving for perfection is demoralizing
– Harriet Braiker
A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault
– John Henry Newman
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen
When you aim for perfection, you discover it’s a moving target
– George Fisher
There are no perfect men in this world, only perfect intentions
– Pen Densham, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
The imperfections of a man, his frailties, his faults, are just as important as his virtues. You can’t separate them. They’re wedded
– Henry Mille
Give up complaining
In trying to get our own way, we should remember that kisses are sweeter than whine
Complaining is a way to control the world using words of disappointment and discomfort. People think that complaining can change the situation when in fact it makes the situation worse. People do not like hanging around complainers and try to avoid their company, which gives the complainers more reasons to complain. It is a cycle that never ends.
In her book Loving What Is, Byron Katie considers complaints as “arguments with life/reality/God”. When things happen a certain way, you have all the proof in the world that they happen that way, so why argue they should not be that way?
The way to give up control by complaining is to develop a positive mindset, a Pollyanna style that includes gratitude and seeing the good in everything. It is easy to find out that you are controlling. If you are expressing any discomfort or desire that things will be different, you are complaining!
I hope the quotes here about complaining will make it easy for you to recognize how hard it is to live in this constant argument with life and will make it easy for you to let it go.
When any fit of gloominess, or perversion of mind, lays hold upon you, make it a rule not to publish it by complaints
– Samuel Johnson
If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it
– Anthony J. D’Angelo, The College Blue Book
I will not be as those who spend the day in complaining of headache, and the night in drinking the wine that gives it
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Do not listen to those who weep and complain, for their disease is contagious
– Og Mandino
The tendency to whining and complaining may be taken as the surest sign symptom of little souls and inferior intellects
– Lord Jeffrey
Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy that the thorn bush has roses
Give up criticism
Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots
– Frank Howard Clark
Most of the time, criticism is pointed at others and judges their actions, thoughts and words, yet judgment is another form of attachment. In every criticism, there is a hidden statement that the criticized is not doing the “right” thing. Parents use this method, believing it is the way to encourage their kids to do better.
Some people think it is their job to criticize. They do not distinguish between giving feedback and criticizing. Feedback needs to be encouraging. It needs to help the others move forward towards the direction they have set for themselves, not to set the direction for them and remind them constantly they are not reaching it.
The way to let criticism go is to give others the permission to be themselves.
Much like complaining, gratitude and appreciation towards diversity, acceptance and inner peace are the tools to overcome criticism. Accept that we are all different, yet very similar in so many ways. Everyone wants to be happy, yet everyone will get there in his or her own unique way.
Don’t criticize what you can’t understand
– Bob Dylan
When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person. It merely says something about our own need to be critical
– Theodore Roosevelt
Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving
– Dale Carnegie
One mustn’t criticize other people on grounds where he can’t stand perpendicular himself
– Mark Twain
I have no right, by anything I do or say, to demean a human being in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him; it is what he thinks of himself. To undermine a man’s self-respect is a sin
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Children need models rather than critics
– Joseph Joubert
Remember, the need for control cannot be achieved by perfectionism, complaining or criticizing. You have all the proof the world is different from what you expect and that it is just too big and complicated to fit to your expectations.
Flow with life, with people and with circumstances. Letting the current carry you to a better place requires much less energy than swimming against it.
Join me next time for the next chapter of The Art of Letting Go about living by other’s expectations.
Until then, be yourself. Everyone else is taken. And let others do the same!
This post is part of the series The Art of Letting Go:
- The Art of Letting Go: Attachments
- The Art of Letting Go: Fear
- The Art of Letting Go: Trapped by Labels
- The Art of Letting Go: Be Right or Be Kind
- The Art of Letting Go: Living up to Others’ Expectations
- The Art of Letting Go: Control
- The Art of Letting Go: Blame and Excuses
- The Art of Letting Go: Painful Past
- The Art of Letting Go: Negative Self-Talk
- The Art of Letting Go: Resistance to Change