Exercising Control


One of the lessons I’ve been learning this year has been about how much control I have over my life. In the past few months I have been making my choices differently, more consciously making them to help me have the life I want. I feel that I have been thinking more clearly about my motivation, and about the consequences of my actions, large and small.

For example, if our kitchen (at the center of the house, next to my office) is relatively clean and the counters are clear, I feel calmer and have more energy, and I eat better. My quality of life is significantly increased if I clean the kitchen every day, instead of leaving it for several days at a time (I know, my housekeeping habits are not exemplary) or waiting for my husband or roommate to do it (though sometimes one of them will still get to it before I do). That’s a fairly mundane example.

Another thing that’s happened this year is that a close friendship, one which has been very important to me, has gone awry. I don’t know if it’s ended or is just on hiatus. My friend stopped seeing me or talking to me (unless we see each other socially) a few months ago.

I still don’t know why this happened. It took me a while to realize that something was going on beyond the normal ebb and flow of friendship resulting from schedule disparity, emotional cycles and life events.

I realized today (while cleaning the kitchen, in fact) that I went through the stages of grief mourning this relationship, spending a lot of time at the ‘anger’ and ‘depression’ stages. I’m happy to feel like I am finally at the point where I will be okay no matter what happens, whether our friendship resumes or not. It took a lot of work to get there.

And this brings me back to control. One thing I realized while I was grieving was that I had been relying too much on a few friends to meet my friendship needs. I have always been the sort of person to have a few close friends and a number of casual ones… but this is something I have control over, too. I know a lot of really excellent and interesting people, and I keep meeting more all the time. I don’t spend nearly enough energy on many of those relationships, and most of them would benefit greatly from even just a little more time and thought.

So I’ve been putting more effort into seeing people I don’t see very often. Some are new friends I want to know better, some are closer friends I just don’t see often enough, others are people I barely know but with whom I sense an affinity. This doesn’t really come naturally to me; I’m doing it gradually, so that it will be a life change I can sustain, instead of just an atypical spasm of energy.

But I have learned that if I change my actions I can change my habits, and from there I can change the way I think and the way I live. I just have to remember that I have the power to do this.

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  1. Emily
    Posted July 31, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Good for you, Mandy!
    It sounds like you and I are on similar paths right now, and learning very similar lessons. One of the things that my husband said to me is that when you let go of the negative energy, you have more to give to the people and things that really matter. And I am finding that this is true.
    Thank you for being so honest and so true – you are a beautiful person, inside and out.

  2. Bette
    Posted August 1, 2009 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Way to go Mandy!
    I’ve been in similar situations and can relate to the stages of grieving. I believe that we have many people come into our lives for very different reasons. Like the saying goes people come into your life FOR A REASON: they meet a need and once that need has passed, they too pass from your life, FOR A SEASON: these people can be in your life for a few years because you are in the same places emotionally, geographically or socially and then circumstances change and the best and most cherished: FOR A LIFETIME, and these friendships will weather any storm, you have unconditional love and trust for each other and even though you may be miles apart you always know that person is your everlasting friend. Losing a friend always leaves a whole in our hearts, and while we may never know why they have left, we are given the insight to cherish the friends that remain and to go the extra mile to feed and water those relationships. You have already made that discovery and I have no doubt that you have the strength to move on. You are truly a wonderful person and have touched so many with your kindness and warm heart! You are and have always been a “Lifetime friend in my heart. Thanks for sharing you insights.

  3. Posted August 1, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    What you said about moving slowly is key, especially if this doesn’t come naturally to you. I go through periods where I think I should give all my relationships some maintenance and I rush around calling and visiting tons of people. Then, I burn out and go back into my hidey-hole. All those people I was reaching out to wonder what happened. This makes me think that moving slowly is much better.

  4. Micki
    Posted September 2, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Mandy! You’re wiser than you know: “change actions >change habits> change your thoughts>change your life.” Whole books have been written in what you encapsulated! xoxo

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