There’s Nothing Wrong with the Illusion of Control: (What Matters is What You Do With It)

This past weekend, I had the extraordinary privilege of doing a 4-day workshop with one of my most gifted teachers, Alison Armstrong.

The title of the course was “Core Partnership” and I will let those of you who are interested follow up on Alison’s site. (For clarity, it is not a workshop for couples. If you need to be in partnership with your boss, your kids, your spouse, etc. this course is for you.)

For the purposes of this post, I am going to focus on one of my goals for the course, which was to address my illusion of control over, well, anything and everything. 

It is an illusion to which I am deeply attached.

What I got greater clarity on over the four-day course is the damage done when, despite the fact that you recognize something is an illusion with your brain, that recognition does not translate into your words, actions or—frankly— the force of your personality.

In other words: you can think you are ready to cede control of your request, project, or plan but continue to micromanage others with your words, actions or by simply hanging around. (Or pretending you are not…we all know when someone is looking at their phone but still giving us the side eye.) 

As you may know from your own experience, this is extremely irritating/unnerving/disrespectful to those on the receiving end.

Given this, my homework for myself is not to give up my illusion of control—it is comforting to me—but to internalize that attempting to control others is incredibly counterproductive for them and for me. 

Frankly, as my fellow-control freaks may agree, it’s exhausting.

What can I do to foster and feed my illusion in a way that doesn’t make others crazy? A few of my favorite things are:

  • Vacuum my car
  • Organize the junk drawer
  • Get my teeth cleaned

After all, how out of control can your life be if you have taken the time to get your teeth cleaned?

And, as you can imagine, the repercussions for others are minimal.

For more on the brilliance Alison provides, see “I Shouldn’t Have to Ask”.