The Huddle #42: Lil' Controlla
Scrolling through Instagram the other day, I came across a post by my obsession, Glennon Doyle. She posted an interview she did with her wife, in which she admits that she can be a bit controlling. She even goes so far as to say that she’s never fully loved before because instead of loving things, she’s been “shaping things”, and that she now realizes that “love is the opposite of control because love implies trust.” It may sound obvious, but the examples she gave of trying to control her partner were things I find myself doing all the time - offering advice in the form of “You should... ” and “You know what’s a really great idea!?” While many of us give and seek advice all the time, the best advice we can give each other is the kind that puts the control back in the hands of the advice-seeker.
In my first few years teaching elementary school, I was holding on to power for dear life - convinced I needed to have “control of my classroom” (whatever that means). I’d find myself saying things that were completely out of alignment with my personal values. The funny thing is that now, the more I lead with love, the more I trust my students. And the more I trust, the more they trust me, which means - you guessed it - we actually have a pretty healthy, peaceful thing going.*
Similarly, when I’ve tried to “mind over matter” my body into a yoga pose in the past - bird of paradise, for example - my body has revolted. My yoga teacher, Erin Gilmore, puts it this way: “You can’t force anyone to do anything. At all. Period. If you do try to force them, they will get their power back. This is true for yourself, and it’s especially true when it comes to your body.” The first five years I did yoga, I would wake up the morning after a class with crunchy hips, creaky shoulders, and the idea that this meant I had gotten a good workout. The creakiness and the crunchiness got worse, and there were days when I couldn’t practice yoga or walk more than a mile without feeling pain. Turns out, having joint pain as a twenty-something-year-old is not a good sign, and when I actually started moving through my yoga classes with a little more ease, I started to get a better understanding of when it was a good idea to push it to the limit. Sometimes, yes; sometimes, child’s pose.
This is not to say that structure and discipline have gone outthe window. Overall, these things are essential to our personal growth. But, could you try noticing the times when your lil’ controlla comes into your internal conversations? For me, I find my controlling side comes out when my life feels the most chaotic - when I’m, as my therapist says, out of alignment. The bigger my crisis, the more “shoulds” drop out of my mouth, pop into my head, or show up on the text I’m writing. In the dance between self-control and self-love, you might see what it’s like give yourself some breathing room, and let love take the lead.
*Most of the time.