'Control' becomes an elusive notion when you’re a mum.
Cognitively, we're taught to understand that any application of control should lead to processes and goals and tasks being ticked off.
It’s the way we mastered our jobs and lives pre-kids, and often with little regard for its importance in our lives.
Once you’re parents though, the word takes on a much more significant meaning!
"Isn't that what all the books say?"
“As a mum you don’t have much control in life,” says Amy Taylor -Kabbaz in this episode of her podcast, Happy Mama. “We don’t control how much sleep we have, what our day looks like, or even how our day will turn out.”
Compounding this often-frustrating feeling is the notion that we all feel like we should have control.
“Isn’t that what all the books say? Follow this formula and you can control the outcome … But that isn’t the truth,” says Amy.
"This is a scary realisation. Because to our trained minds, the reverse of not being in control of things is too scary. To us it can mean that everything is going to go badly - or just wrong."
This mindset can create a running list of ‘what-ifs’ in our head. What if our child still gets sick, or is in pain and in trouble, or our relationship doesn't work? What if we spend all this money and time on following the 'right' health protocols and our body still doesn’t feel healthy?
Is anyone really financially prepared for parenthood?
So here’s the interesting part. Amy says that in order to feel better about the way our day and lives are unfolding, we actually have to let go of the idea that we can control anything at all.
Control, she says, is simply an illusion that we create in our minds.
“Peace of mind and the ability to slow down comes with accepting we have no control over our lives, except for how we react to life,” says Amy.
“If we control our reaction to life and that moment - how we deal with that news, how we support our friends and family - we can control how much we get involved ... That is the only thing we can control."
The paradox of control
Prior to recording this podcast episode, Amy had just received some really exciting news that came out of the blue. Yet in that moment she realised something important:
“I have spent my whole life planning, putting goals together, doing spreadsheets and declaring, ‘this is what it’s going to look like’. What I’ve realised is that when I do tip into control, I block things and they become more difficult. If I can surrender and follow what feels good, [I can] keep looking after myself and keep my reactions to my life as positive as they can be.”
Sounds great, but how do we do that?
Surrendering your control and focusing on your reactions is easier said than done! But Amy says there are several tools to help us pave the way with greater ease.
“Learn meditation to help you tune into your thoughts. Get more sleep, turn off social media, eat the right foods. Or write compassionate letters to yourself, reminding yourself to be the very best version of ‘you’ possible.
“Try taking an afternoon off and sitting in the sun. Something that simple allows your whole nervous system to exhale.”
And even though that might seem scary, there’s something very liberating about it as well.
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