Manage Yourself, Manage Your Life

Not enough time, not enough energy, not enough space. Too much information, too many obligations, too many deadlines, too many obstacles. No communication, no cooperation, no consideration. Over committed, over budgeted, over the barrel. Anxiety, insecurity, confusion, despair.

Life is out of control!

Sound familiar? In our fast-paced world many people feel this way at one time or another. But if you feel this way most of the time, it can be a stressful way to live.

Many books offer tips and suggestions for efficient time management, which are helpful and necessary. But often it’s an underlying attitude that sets the cycle of chaos in motion. Unless we correct our attitude, we will just be running around frantically trying to plug up the leaks in the dam. If you want to better manage your life, you first have to learn how to manage yourself. We need a different attitude and a different approach.

There are two approaches that set the scene for turmoil. We are trying to control other people, places and things or we are trying to control other people places and things. Yes, I wrote that twice. That's because there are two methods we use to control. One is easily recognizable. It goes something like this. "If everyone would just do things my way, everything would be fine."

We tell others what they should do and explain to them why they should be thrilled to do it the way we say. After all, it's for their own good. We plan every activity out in detail so nothing will go wrong, and when something or someone doesn't proceed according to our script, we become angry. We can't understand why others can't do what they are told or why they would just ignore us. We become self righteous. After all, we spent our time and effort going beyond the call of duty to prepare a failsafe plan of action that everyone can follow.

If everyone would have just adhered to our plan, things would have worked out. So of course this disaster couldn't be our fault. It must be the government's fault, or the unemployed folks' fault, or the barking dog’s fault, or perhaps it’s your fault. We try to anticipate every possible obstacle, every possible betrayal, every possible nuance, and every possible situation in which someone or something may disrupt our strategy, whether it’s by being irresponsible, ignorant, or just difficult. And when one domino falls in a way we didn't anticipate…. we're completely undone because we have no plan for that. That wasn't supposed to happen. And besides, the moron should have known better. We told them what to do, after all.
Now sometimes we justify our incessant need to control by identifying it as setting goals and being prepared. We may even construe it as visualizing the specifics toward our desired manifestation.

But in reality, we are reacting out of fear.

Fear that things won't turn out the way we want. Fear that we won't succeed. Fear that we won't know how to respond in a new situation. Fear that others will sabotage us. Fear that others are incompetent. Fear that the Universe won't get it right. And fear is the ultimate enemy of success, relationships, health, joy and the freedom to have a fulfilling life.

Now we move on to control under cover. It's more difficult to recognize but it’s also more stressful. We try to be perfect. We try to be agreeable. We rationalize and justify when we fall short. We try to meet everyone’s expectations and fabricate excuses or apologize profusely when we find it impossible to do so. We avoid conflict and shrink from making requests. Instead we drop hints, withdraw or use some other form of manipulation in the hopes that others will give in, feel guilty, read our mind or come to our rescue.

We fool ourselves into believing we are being selfless by giving in to others. Or we tell ourselves that what we wanted wasn’t that important, or that we can handle the disappointment, the inconsiderate treatment, etc. Often we believe that others don't value us or our opinions and feelings. We think people are taking advantage of our good nature. We don't risk doing anything unless we're certain we will perform with excellence and beyond reproach.

We can't say no because we don't want others to think poorly of us. We don’t follow our dreams because we feel compelled to meet the expectations of others. We don’t pursue our passions because we might embarrass others or ourselves. We fear being ridiculed and believe we will crumble if we are criticized. The result is that we feel used and discounted.

We can't stand the disappointment of losing but we also don't want others to be angry with us or feel resentful if we win, so we avoid the situation altogether.

Why? We are afraid.

Afraid others will get angry and get back at us. Afraid we're not good enough. Afraid we aren't important. Afraid others will ridicule or discount what we have to say. Afraid we might fail if we tried. Afraid to live life and afraid to express who we are.

These may be the extremes. But most of us, if we are honest can see one or two tendencies that are familiar. Fear is the motivation for control, whether it is overt control or manipulative and avoidant.

To gain a sense of order in our lives, we first must admit that we are afraid, something that we would all prefer to deny. Then we must accept that we typically cannot eliminate the cause of our fear. Something we really don't like. But fear won't kill us and fear itself doesn't have to affect our lives in a negative way. It is our reaction and our attempt to resist the sensation of fear that produces our spiritual and psychological suffering. There is no easy three step action plan to eliminate fear. Believe me I would have found it long ago.

However, there are ways to walk through the fear. And it's usually less painful that we had imagined.

The first step is to admit and acknowledge that the fear is there. You don't necessarily have to do this out loud and publicly. But surprisingly, I have often found that people are not at all judgmental when I do openly admit to feeling afraid. They actually seemed relieved to know that others feel the same way they do. Plus it does away with the stress of pretending to be cool, calm and collected when my knees are shaking and perspiration is streaming down my brow.

Realize that no matter how detailed your plan may be, life is unpredictable, people are unpredictable and even the most rigidly organized among us is at times, unpredictable. We cannot control what people do, no matter how convincing we are, nor can we control how others will feel about us no matter how agreeable we are.

The energy I spent in the past, trying to control people places and things so I wouldn’t feel vulnerable, I now redirect into responding creatively to the situations that do arise, not the ones that could. Often I find that by being flexible, I am able to see and act on an opportunity in an unexpected situation. Ironically, the result is more satisfying than anything I could have orchestrated in my most detailed and researched plan. And what a nice surprise that can be.

Being flexible and having the ability to be spontaneous does not negate the need for preparedness. Not being sufficiently prepared is a sure fire way to put your anxiety level into orbit. Being prepared is not the same thing as control. Preparation means, being knowledgeable about the situation or topic, practiced in any necessary skills, and being up to date on any relevant information.

The most important step that we can take to let go of control and manage our life is to work on ourselves. Inner growth is the most important strategy we have to eliminating the feeling of being out of control. It is a strategy that we must continue for our lifetime, if we are to enjoy continued growth and success.

No matter what kind of external success we may accumulate, if our insides are a mess, the successes quickly lose their significance. You can fix up a lemon of a car on the outside. It may look good and you may get a lot of compliments, but the ride won't be much fun and it won’t get you very far.

Get spiritually connected, whatever that means for you. Practice integrity and consistency. Integrity takes care of any fear of being found out for a secret transgression and helps increase self-worth. A healthy sense of self worth always tends to make fear less debilitating. And consistency eases communication and strengthens relationships because others know what to expect from you.

But the bottom line is that we cannot avoid coming face to face with fear occasionally. Instead of letting fear consume you, take a step back and observe the fear and observe yourself, too. That process of switching from a subjective to an objective perspective often eases the intensity of the emotional response and minimizes negative self judgments. Remember, you are not your feelings. Your feelings do not define who you are or your measure as an individual and they do not have to control your behavior.

It's how you respond and interact with your feelings that helps shape your character.

Our feelings are simply vibrations that move through us and produce sensations. Our fears give us information about ourselves if we can just stop and observe them. Information that can, if we chose to use it, enable us to grow, expand and enjoy a more satisfying life. When we try to avoid fear, we spend time and energy trying to control external conditions, which is a war we cannot win. We can put that energy to better use. It is not necessary to be fearless to take action. It just takes the willingness to walk through the fear.
If we want to improve how we manage our life, we must let go of the compulsion to control, whatever form it takes.

To manage our lives we must learn to manage ourselves.

We can recognize which of our behaviors are controlling by identifying the motivation behind our actions. Control is typically motivated by fear in some form. We are often unaware of this or chose to ignore it. But the result is the same. The harder we try to control circumstances on the outside, the more out of control we eventually feel on the inside. Fear may be an uncomfortable sensation. Just like a headache or a sore muscle can be an uncomfortable physical sensation. We may prefer not to feel the discomfort of a headache or sore muscle but we seldom deny or run from them. What would be the point?

You cannot escape yourself.

Accept that you are experiencing fear, but keep moving toward your goals and in alignment with your values and priorities. Then pat yourself on the back.

The most courageous people were afraid. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage is taking action in the face of fear. And that is the greater accomplishment.

Author's Bio: 

Lauren Kennedy is passionate about her work. She has devoted years to exploring, researching and creating methods designed to help others achieve their dreams.Her article show innovation and insight that is rarely seen. Lauren also offers Life and Spiritual Coaching. Her compassion, intuitive insights and vast and varied experiences produces magical results as she guides and supports others in transforming their lives and connecting to their own inner magnificence.

Lauren Kennedy has a website that offers information and support. The website has products, e-course, CD's, and coaching services available to support you in your journey through life. She is always eager to communicate with anyone in need of support.

You can visit her website, participate in her blog or e-mail her.
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