Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be,
since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be. — Thomas à Kempis
It is said that control is the flip side of fear. When we are afraid that disaster will strike, we are tempted to seize control and hold on for dear life. Ironically, the harder we fight for control, the more chaotic things can become.
This is especially true when we try to force our will on others. When people we care about are making poor choices, we want to step in, tell them what to do, and take control. Then we are met with resistance, resentment, and anger, because everybody—even our addicted loved one—struggles for the right to shape his or her own destiny.
I remember a time when almost every conversation I had with my daughter ended in anger. In my mind, she was the one who was being unreasonable when she lashed out against my advice or refused to answer my questions. I knew that she lied and kept dangerous secrets from me, and I was frustrated by my inability to break through and show her the light. I guess I thought that if I shouted and nagged enough, I would make her see that she was throwing her life away.
But the harder I tried to control her, the more she resisted. We were locked in an exhausting battle that did neither of us any good, until I accepted the need to let go of her problems and put the focus on myself.
That was the beginning of my recovery.
I stopped challenging her on every suspected lie. I stopped offering unwanted advice. I let go of trying to solve the inevitable problems her addiction created. I started being clearer and firmer about my boundaries. I started doing things that nurtured my own well-being.
In the process of taking better care of my own life, my relationship with my daughter gradually improved. And when conflict with me was no longer a convenient excuse for her problems, she was left face-to-face with the consequences of her own choices.
That was the beginning of her recovery.
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My biggest powers are acceptance and unconditional love.