trying to control vs taking charge

It may feel good to romanticize the notion that we have control over each and every aspect of our life. But it is far from the truth. 

There’s a difference between trying to control things in our life and taking charge of our life. As Anne Willson Schaefwrites in her book Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much, “Trying to control our lives puts us in a position of failure before we start and causes endless, unnecessary pain and suffering. Taking charge of our lives means owning our lives and having a respond-ability to our lives.”

The difference between them is analogous to that between power and force. When we try to control, we apply force, but when we’re in charge, we exude power. As David R. Hawkins highlights their distinction in his book The Eye of the I, “Force is temporary, consumes energy, moves from one location to another. Power, in contrast, is self-sustaining, permanent, stationery and invincible.”

A wise person does not believe in having absolute control over everything in their life. They know they can’t control their luck and fortune, or prevent a catastrophe or calamity from happening. But they take responsibility for themselves and hone their respond-ability. They know they might not have control over what happens to them in their life, but they are in charge of how they respond to it.

This is one of the success principles that Jack Canfield teaches and follows religiously. In his blog, he points out, “The most important lesson you must understand that you are 100 percent responsible for your life – the good and the bad.” The success formula that he uses to explain this idea is:

E + R = O (Events + Responses = Outcome)

He further explains, “The basic idea is that every outcome you experience in life (whether it’s success or failure, wealth or poverty, wellness or illness, intimacy or estrangement, joy or frustration) is the result of how you have responded to an earlier event in your life. Likewise, if you want to change the results you get in the future, you must change how you respond to events in your life… starting today.”

That’s why, in order to attract success in the long-term, it’s best to take extreme ownership of ourselves, our actions and our lives, and become respond-able.