I lay in bed last night, obsessing about the wankiness of yesterday’s post and unable to sleep, so concocted another to wipe the aforementioned smug and wanky post from my blog’s front page. (As you do!)
I’m still talking about The Happiness Code however, and Domonique Bertolucci’s keys to happiness. Again there’s some resonance because her second key is about the principle of acceptance and ‘letting go’.
If I searched this blog for the number of times I’ve confessed to being a ‘control freak’, I suspect one-third of my posts would appear.
(In fact I did just that and I’m now worried I’m a tad repetitive!)
Bertolucci (like many before her) reminds us that much of what happens in life is beyond our control (or influence: a term she prefers to use). It’s a bit like the serenity prayer:
“Work out what things you can influence,” she says, “and come to a peaceful acceptance of the rest.”
Easier said than done, right?
But she suggests that we pick our battles wisely because each time we fight and lose, it chips away at our self-esteem and our happiness.
She also recommends we remove attachment to outcomes.
“Enjoy your experiences for what they are, what you have gained and what you have learned.”
As the new year is fast-approaching it’s an ideal time for me to again consider the notion of outcomes and goals. I’ve talked before (many times – hello, repetitive much?!) about my attachment to goal-setting and need to measure my performance (the project manager in me!).
“Focus on the things you can influence and don’t fret over the rest,” Bertolucci says.
She continues to talk about rejecting the need to strive for perfection; rather just being our best. She suggests we forget about winning and losing, reminding us that we are not (in fact) competing with anyone but ourselves.
She also reminds us that many of the things that stress us (the weather, timeliness of public transport, or other people) are NOT within our control, or our influence. Again, all we can do is ‘accept’ the outcome.
It’s a different take on the ‘journey versus destination’ argument – maintaining a focus on the end goal but not stressing if factors beyond your control prevent you from getting there. Sort of.
“Being a control freak is a sign of a vulnerable self esteem. The better you feel about yourself, the less you feel the need to control everything around you.”
Ummmm yes. She also talks about high achievers versus over achievers. A distinction I’ve never really considered before. And it’s the former, not the latter, who do great things.
As a control freak I’ve historically worried about everything. And I’ve felt disempowered and victimised when I haven’t been able to control things I’m involved in. It’s highly
probable possible that I haven’t accepted that I am not all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful and unable to move people, things and time about as if pawns on the chessboard of life.
On top of that, I need goals. I need direction. But, the win/lose succeed/fail concept of goal-setting can be frustrating and contribute to a struggling self-esteem (conversely leading to the need to control stuff around me). Rinse. Repeat.
I must confess I’m not quite sure how to detach myself from the outcomes of my goals. Setting targets but not worrying about their achievement will prove difficult. Perhaps it comes from revisiting them regularly and acknowledging contributing factors to the lack of achievement.
Bertolucci suggests we work out the level of influence we have over any situation or decision. If it’s minimal, she says, then we should apply the principle of acceptance and disengage. I love this notion and I know it’s different to ‘giving up’, but I’m gonna need to think about that a bit more.
I know I’ve asked before about goal-setting, but I’m interested to know if you think you can detach yourself from the outcomes?