"Consciously, I know it'll be okay when I let it go. But the controlling part of me says..."
The other day, my counselor stopped me during that sentence to tell me, "I don't want you to use that word to beat yourself up."
At first I thought she was just leading me to cut myself a break, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized why that word permeated my negative self-perception.
As I talked through it with my counselor, I realized we often use the word 'controlling' to particularly describe a tense woman.
I challenged her a bit and asked, "what about domestic abusers, who are typically male? Don't we call them controlling?" She pointed out that even then, we use words like possessive, or manipulative. Having control over a victim is more of a symptom in that case.
When have we as a society used the word controlling? To describe a wife, a mother, a girlfriend, when they tell someone what to do. Don't we use the word "strict" or "in charge" for fathers or male bosses when they exhibit those same behaviors?
After that discussion, we reframed the way I thought of the word and how I could use it to my advantage.
"Wanting control is just wanting the best for yourself." Any time we try to plan, work through a problem, find a solution for the future, it is just our mind wanting the best outcome. This perspective makes it much easier to thank your mind for looking out for you, and redirect to surrender, prayer, or a new mindset. Control can be a guidepost.
There are many examples of when control is a bad thing, and it becomes harmful when it is exerted over another person, or blocks you yourself from being open to another option. They often show up in relationships, eating disorders, perfectionism.
This post, though, is to let you off the hook - especially if you're a woman - for the moments where you catch yourself thinking about getting the best job, the best partner, the bellies of the world fed, to arrive at a meeting early, taking your child to the best doctors.
Those moments are just you looking out for you.