Discerning what is yours to control and what isn’t will save you from being disappointed and depleted
You’ve already got your plate full. YOU are your own full-time job…so, what gives? Why are you spreading yourself so thin wearing so many hats? Remember the phrase Jack of all trades, master of none?
As always, life recently presented me with some more supporting evidence of that (as life has a way of doing. Eyes open.
I’m writing this from my annual family camping vacation (sans kids for the first time). This is a trip that recharges me like an iPhone attached to a power cord. And yes, in some ways I have to drive my butt 9 hours north to the glorious state of Maine (aka ‘God’s country’) to ‘get here’. Point being, it is a place where my nervous system exhales, slows down, breathes deeply and let’s go of stressors, to-do lists, ‘shoulds’ — and jobs I didn’t apply for.
Do you have any of those in your life — either jobs you’ve taken on, but didn’t apply for, or jobs that are simply not your job (and I’m talking about life, family, relationships, community, work and more)? Are we all nodding in agreement? Been there done that!
My son is heading off to college within a few weeks. Transition is upon us as a family and for me as a Mom. It’s been my ‘job’ to nurture, guide, care, protect and love him all of these years since I first saw his face, seconds after he was born. But it suddenly dawned on me that along with his impending departure, there is also a passing of the baton (wait, I want my baton back!). Now, realistically as a parent, I won’t be refraining from the kneejerk impulse to ‘parent,’ to worry, impose my opinions and to direct. But truth be told, when you pass the baton…you pass the baton. Cruise director no more — though some habits don’t die easily (let’s face it, I’ve been doing it this way for a long time).
Recently, when my son asked me for permission to do something, it hit me. And while his respect in asking warmed my momma heart — I did laugh to myself thinking how within a month he won’t be asking me the same kinds of things. Baton passed.
This is a big thing for parents — transitioning out of the ‘why because I said so’, not-so-democratic rule of law into the complete relinquishing of power. It’s not something anyone talked to me about or prepared me for. People continuously say things to me like, “you must be totally freaked out about him leaving.” “This must be really hard.” “How are you going to handle the whole empty-nest thing?” My response: Like I’ve handled most everything else in my life — I’ll figure it out. I’ll find my way through it.
Of course my heart will pang when I pass his empty room by, but it will also swell knowing that he has exited the nest ready to broaden horizons and embark upon his next chapter. And the real news flash here: I don’t control his life, experience or choices, no matter how much I try. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I say, think, believe, desire. I reiterate, when the baton is passed, the baton is passed. Now clearly, if my son (or anyone else for that matter) wants my opinion, they can ask for it. And I’ve got plenty to give (Ha!). However, (and this is the crux of much of our own angst), if it isn’t asked for, if it isn’t your life path…it probably isn’t your job.
Take a load off and sink into knowing that we can love, inspire and empower others, but we can’t control them — or their necessary life paths (even those of the people we give birth to). We can be there to pick up the pieces, but we can’t control the outcome.
This may seem so obvious at first, but it was a big revelation for me. And in some way it was a much needed relief. It relieves us of a burden that really isn’t ours, or ours to control. And it actually helps others to navigate for themselves, to tap into their own intuition, inner GPS and guidance. You’ll also likely find that when you pull the plug on that energetic expenditure, things flow much more smoothly for all.
We can choose to get caught up in stuff (the drama, the problems, the unhealed wounding) that’s not ours, or not — and again, this happens with our kids, family members and co-workers. It truly translates to any interaction with others.
Relieve yourself of unnecessary burden of changing the outcome of something that isn’t yours to change.
Where does this come up for you? Is there a place in your life where you feel like you are beating a dead horse as they say? Take a look at the areas where you spread yourself thin, expend enormous emotional energy and seem to come up empty. Perhaps your best self is beckoning you to lighten the load and move on. It’s time to get back to our own cubicles. I’ve got my work to do and you’ve got yours — and if we truly want to impact those around us and the world at large, we need to heal ourselves and show up as our best selves. Modeling is the best teacher.
The most profound thing we have to offer our children is our own healing.
~ Anne Lamott
I always love hearing from you. How does this resonate with you — where do you take on the jobs that are not yours? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below.