Control is something I struggle with in that I aim to control everyone around me and everything that happens. In truth, it is simply not possible. The only control we are able to maintain over our lives is how we react to situations. We can control our behavior through the decisions that we make, though it takes a great deal of conscious effort. We cannot control other people or what happens to us or even our own feelings, for that matter. The perfectionist does not realize or perhaps accept this though. As a self-proclaimed sufferer of this disease, I know firsthand of the struggle us perfectionists and workaholics face when it comes to matters such as this.
On the topic of control, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“We workaholics are difficult to be around. We are hard to work with and hard to work for. Our core form of functioning is control. We often do not know the difference between getting the job done and getting the job done well. Our belief is that if we can just control everything, we are doing our job and doing it right. Our illusion of control is killing us. We find ourselves exhausted and burned out.
Unfortunately, control is costly. In trying to realize this illusion of control, we are destructive to ourselves and others. Also, in trying to maintain this illusionary control, we find our field of vision becomes more and more constricted (as do our blood vessels!) and we are no longer open to new and better ideas. In fact, we are not open to any ideas at all.”
The thing about controlling everything and everyone around you is that it is exhausting. It requires constant effort, and because it is an impossible task, the work is never done. People who are exhausted and generally cranky from this unending battle to maintain control over life and everyone in it are certainly not very fun to be around. The death grip that a workaholic perfectionist holds on the illusion of control closes that person off to new ideas and keeps them stuck in old patterns that are no longer working for them. It deteriorates relationships too, as no one likes to be controlled by others. I always think I know best when in truth there is much to be learned from other people. Why close myself off to new possibilities and ideas? The world and everyone in it have so much to offer. All I have to do is remain open to it, but that requires first letting go of my desire for control.
Control is an illusion I must let go of in order to truly heal and find peace.