I Just CAN...
Ever since COVID-19 upended our lives a few months ago, we have all been hit with a daily onslaught of news about our current situation. You can’t turn on the television, get on the internet, pick up a paper, or even scroll your social media feed without being bombarded with things that make you shake your head and say, “I just can’t…”
Hi! I’m Bonny, and I am a control freak (insert, “Hi Bonny!”) But, here’s the thing—I’m sick of apologizing for it because (1) if I was a man no one would think twice about it---in fact, I’d probably be a CEO, but that’s a post for another day, (2) because I cannot stand half-assed commitment, and I hate the word, “No.” If you are going to tell me that I cannot do something, you better be ready to give me a really strong argument as to why not, because I believe every problem has a solution. Finally (3), I’ve discovered that my controlling tendencies are serving me pretty well during what is arguably the biggest cluster-you-know-what-any of us have ever experienced.
Let me explain: Right now, many things that I once took for granted as part of my daily life are now completely out of my control, and I am hearing and saying “no” a lot ---especially where my teenagers are concerned. “No, you can’t spend the night at a friend’s house.” “No, you cannot go on a vacation this summer.” “No, you cannot have a big birthday party.” “No, the summer job you were counting on won’t be happening.” “No, I don’t know for sure if you will be able to go back to school.” NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, and it’s beginning to wear all of us down.
It’s time to find some resounding YESes y’all! And that’s where being a “control freak” like me pays off, because in order to find the “yes I can” in our current world of “uh-uh--not so fast…” I had to find the things I COULD control. Otherwise, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, depressed and so mired down in the “can’t” that it’s hard to come up for air.
So in an effort to help my fellow control freaks find the “yeses,” and “I can’s,” I’m offering up a few things that have been working for me during the Corona crisis. No, I’m not talking about writing a bestseller or learning a new language---unless that’s your thing in which case, do you! I’m talking about small tweaks in our daily lives that can go a long way in giving us a sense of control in the chaos.
I CAN control what I am digesting. I mean this in both the literal and figurative sense. In the beginning of this craziness, I soothed myself with sweets. Ok—I actually don’t need a pandemic as an excuse to do that-but it got a little out of hand. As a result of all that sweet stuff, I felt bloated, sluggish, depressed, and all around crappy. I also read endless news papers, watched the news non stop, scrolled social media tirelessly in the name of “knowledge is power.” Like the sweets, this overindulgence also brought about negative effects including depression, anxiety, and generally feeling like crap. A few pounds and several crying jags later, I realized that I could actually control those feelings by controlling what I was digesting. I cut back on the sugary treats. I stopped fueling the media machine by taking breaks from the news and getting off the internet. Instead, I filled my body with good foods and filled my soul with things that brought me joy such as reading books, planting flowers, and bringing back “family game night.” That’s not to say I buried my head in the sand—I just fed myself only the minimum needed to satisfy me of both sweets and information, and then I walked away.
I CAN control my environment. And speaking of walking away---I recently had an epiphany: if there are people who make you feel ignored, unimportant, or anything less than fabulous either on social media or in real life, the best to way to take away their power is to take away their access. Once I realized that I could literally remove anyone whose interest in me was not in MY best interest, my life began to subtly shift. The writer’s block and lack of creativity I was experiencing during the pandemic lifted once I realized that life is too short to stay where you aren’t wanted, valued, or appreciated. If you are being ghosted, ridiculed, or left out. If you feel emotionally drained, or are forced to second-guess every move you make--- move along. Clear that energy folks and make room for new and better things to happen!
I CAN control my body. I can go for a walk, run or bike ride. I can walk my dog. I can go hiking, swimming, or paddle boarding. I can download or live stream a good workout. I can dance around my house. Anything that releases those feel good endorphins does wonders for releasing stress and improving your mood. Doesn’t have to be a “go hard or go home” sweat session—just move!
I CAN control my outlook and my attitude. I know it’s hard when bad news seems to be everywhere you look, but try to find something to be positive about whether it’s a beautiful sunset, your good health, or your kids going an entire day without fighting (I assume that happens in some households). Find the silver linings—they are there, even if you have to look a little harder for them.
I CAN give myself grace. This one is the most challenging for me, but by realizing that regardless of how hard I try, I’m not going to succeed at all (or any) of the above on a daily basis, I am giving myself grace. I am acknowledging that none of us have ever sailed in these rough seas and it’s ok if we aren’t sure how to navigate the waters every single day. Mistakes will be made. Frustration and sadness will be felt. Voices will be raised. Feelings will be hurt. But forgiveness of ourselves and others can go a long way in helping us control those emotions that threaten to pull us under.
At the end of the day, being a “control freak” isn’t all bad. In fact, it can be pretty useful in times of uncertainty and confusion. Taking control of the things you can, and finding the “yeses” amid all the “nos” can help you and those around you to keep moving forward, one small step at a time.