I’m a closet advice column junkie. Carolyn Hax, Ask Amy, and Margo Howard – I read them all. I still read Cheryl Lavin’s Tales from the Front, which started in the Chicago Tribune right around the time I started college. I guess I’m a voyeur because I love the 1-page windows into others’ lives that advice columns provide.
One common advice column theme is “how can I get another person to stop doing x?” Often it’s “how can I get another person to stop doing x to me?” The thing is, you can’t, but there is good news here. If the answer were outside of you, then the power would be outside of you as well. The good news is, the answer and the power are within you.
Think about what life can be like when YOU hold the power. You are the agent of your success or failure, if you are gutsy enough to seize your power and keep it. Everyone I know has, at one point or another had a friend, family member, or romantic partner who has tried to control them. There was a time in my life when, if I encountered someone like this, I would try to negotiate with them. I would have asked them to stop trying to control me. And by doing so, I would hand them all the power, and, oddly enough, the control that I was trying so politely to request back.
I finally learned that you don’t keep someone from controlling you by asking them not to control you. You keep someone from controlling you by simply declining to be controlled. You continue on your path and you let what happens happen. The only catch is that you have to be willing to surprise people, to anger some, and to sometimes surprise and scare yourself. The bonus is that you put up with virtually zero unnecessary crap and you spend your time and energy doing the things that are important to you, instead of spending it negotiating for rights that were always yours to begin with.
If there is someone in your life who wants to sap your energy for their own benefit, the best thing you can do for yourself is to remember that you own your power and if the other person doesn’t like that, it’s their problem not yours. Is there someone in your world who wants to micromanage you? Sure, OK, let them try, but they’re going to have to stop the train of your awesomeness first. Don’t stop your own train so they can pile it high with mandates you haven’t agreed to.
Is there someone in your world who thinks you should look/dress/eat/work/live differently? If you respect them, then listen to what they have to say, but unless you decide they have a point, don’t stop the train of your life so they can attach a couple of rusty-wheeled boxcars full of their expectations.
Scary? You bet it’s scary. Exhilarating? Oh yes.