Control is overrated

I recently wrote about the vicious cycle of dieting, binge eating, and yoyo, that had its grip on me ever since I remember. I only managed to escape it when instead of trying to control what I eat, I started listening to my body and watching it react to different kinds of food.

If you told me a few years ago I could try eating sandwiches, I’d probably come up with a hundred reasons for why carbs are bad for your health. I’d quote several authorities who recommend to cut down on carbs, and explain that even though it’s only natural for us to crave them, we need to keep our monkey minds under control.

I thought more control would always give better results. I thought the only reason I’m not getting them is that I’m too weak and lazy to control myself. Everything, from elementary schools to government and tax system is designed as if people were inherently dumb, self-indulgent, and lazy, and the only thing that kept them in check was control.

In my experience, the opposite is true

The harder I try to control some aspect of life, the harder it hits me when it inevitably spirals out of control at some point.

The more I accept whatever is and work with that, the better and longer-lasting results I get.

I’ve become less depressed since I accepted that a depressed state is something that occasionally happens to me. In the past I would feel guilty that I’m not grateful or resilient enough, because nearly everyone has it much worse. These days I just fully embrace the slouchy potato as soon as it arrives, and now it visits me less and for much shorter time.

I’ve become less angry since I stopped trying to control my angry outbursts and accepted them for what they are–a signal that I feel my needs aren’t met. Instead of feeling guilty that I overreacted about something banal again, I’m curious what must have happened in the past that made me have such strong feelings. In most cases, the root causes are ancient and long forgotten, but I found ways to connect with them, with great results.

I don’t really get drunk or hangover anymore, since instead of trying to control how much alcohol I drink on any given night, I listen carefully to how my body feels. In the past I used to be much more tolerant of even the worst hangover symptoms, cause somehow they were easier to endure than emotional pain. Nowadays I have so much to look forward to on the day after party, that even the slightest discomfort caused by excessive drinking isn’t just worth it anymore.

I’m learning much faster since I accepted that dumb mistakes are a part of the process, and so is being upset about making them. I no longer procrastinate for days in fear of doing something silly, or retreat from life for another few days when I actually do make a mistake. I’ve accepted that the only way to find a brilliant idea is through thousands of not-so-brilliant ones, and that no one is going to remember the stupid things I said anyway.

I’m much more productive at work since instead of trying to force myself to do things when I don’t feel like it, I take a break, change my surroundings, and most importantly reflect on why I don’t feel like doing it in the first place. Do I feel like there’s no point in doing it? Are there conflicting expectations which I don’t know how to prioritize? Am I lost and confused on what needs to be done in the first place?

What would I need in order to fall in love with it?

And if there’s no chance I could love what I’m doing now in a thousand years, why am I doing this? What can I do to find something that I could love instead?

When I am in love, I don’t need to force myself to go meet that guy. I’ll move mountains and do the seemingly impossible if I believe it brings me closer to the one I love.

There’s no reason not to treat my work, art, relationships, wellness or creative projects the same way. If I approach them from a place of love, there’s no need to control anything anymore.

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