A lot of people like to feel in control, and I’m no different. We spend a lot of time and energy making plans and trying to keep on top of things. To a degree, that’s fine. On a practical level, making plans and getting organised is often very helpful. If you don’t make a shopping list before you go to the supermarket, you’ll come back with a whole of things you didn’t really need and without the one thing you really went for in the first place.
The problem comes when we confuse having routines or making plans for actually being in control. Just as we can’t actually ensure that the supermarket has all the things on our list, we can’t really control what happens in our lives. The best we can do is to make that list, hope for the best, but be prepared to make something else for dinner if we have to.
A huge relief
And that’s fine. In fact, once you really accept that you don’t have control, it can be a huge relief.
A few months ago I did a webinar about Mindfulness for 90 teachers in Spain. Five minutes before I was due to log on for the pre-webinar technical check, my little dog, Teddy, jumped up on the desk while I was getting a glass of water, and somehow managed to both log me into the webinar and block the camera. It was fixed in the end by turning the computer off and on again (the extent of my technical expertise), but it was quite anxiety-provoking, not knowing if I was going to be able to run the webinar at all.
The point is that not in a million years could I have anticipated that my dog would almost ruin the webinar. I could have worried about and tried to control all sorts of things, but not that. It was a beautiful lesson (not my first) to relax, because nothing is under control.
So, make your plans, do your best, but accept that things do sometimes go wrong. Most of the time they’re fixable, as mine was. Sometimes they’re not fixable, but even then, time passes and we recover and even learn lessons from these hard times.