We all have an IT, right?
That thing in the back of your brain that sits there, festering, waiting to take control? Maybe others see it – or maybe, it feels like the world’s best kept secret, because half the game is making sure that no one knows IT even exists.
For some of us, maybe IT is anxiety. For others, maybe depression. Maybe IT is OCD, or PTSD. Or maybe, it’s not some official “diagnosis,” but feelings of perfectionism, guilt, shame, anger, pessimism – some other self-proclaimed “fatal flaw” that might drive a lot of our internal dialogue. Maybe IT is a medical diagnosis. IT can be the death of a loved one, or the loss of a relationship. Or maybe, IT is a fear of failure, a personal insecurity, a childhood hurt, or some other perceived limitation.
Whatever IT may be, it can feel all-consuming, powerful, driving – maybe even inescapable at times.
But here’s the thing. Regardless of what IT is, if you can’t control IT, then you can’t let IT control you.
In Episode 13 of the THRIVE Podcast (listen here!), one of my best friends on planet Earth, Chelsie, dropped one of the biggest truth bombs I’ve ever heard. She said:
“If I can’t control IT, then I can’t let IT control ME.”
Hold up…let’s rinse and repeat that one.
“If I can’t control IT, then I can’t let IT control ME.”
Chelsie is a pediatric cancer survivor who is now in the middle of a long, painful infertility journey. Her finish line feels far from in sight, and it can be SO FREAKING HARD to feel confident, hopeful, or even happy when she’s well-aware that she has ZERO control on the outcome of the situation – both with her cancer, since cancer can return, and with her fertility.
But Chels’ observation + mantra is SO FREAKING TRUE and oh so necessary for anyone in a similar boat, when you’re swimming with the sharks or battling rough currents and just trying to stay afloat.
You might have no control over IT, whatever your IT is, but you CAN re-gain control of the captain’s seat of your own ship. In fact, you HAVE to. Because if you don’t, you’re letting the uncontrollable win. You’re giving up any last crumb of control left to the invisible, unforgiving forces at bay that can (+ will) try and destroy any joy you had left or any hope in your heart. You’re walking around with a chip on your shoulder against God, the universe, whatever higher power you will, blaming it for your unhappiness and claiming it will never get better. You’re unintentionally living as a piece of yourself, because you’re not even giving yourself the CHANCE to beat the odds – to break free from invisible chains or break out of invisible boxes to best your own potential and do what they said you couldn’t.
Friends…we all have shit in life.
Really. All of us.
Some of it’s the controllable kind – the self-imposed kind, where we dig ourselves holes and jump in them too quickly, thinking “Oh, shit” on the way down the rabbit hole of a dumb choice or unkind word.
Others aren’t as foreseen, and definitely don’t come by choice or accident – they come by a seemingly bad stroke of luck.
We all have shit and it all stinks.
But here’s the deal, friends.
I firmly believe that you’ve gotta choose to own your shit and call it what it is so that you can intentionally and productively move forward in your life. If you don’t call it out and choose to rise higher than it, that’s when you risk being controlled by it.
Ladies, it would be absurd to think that we are in control of everything in life. Any of us who have been through any hard thing can speak to that – and if you can’t, you just can’t yet. I know there’s a hundred and one Pinterest quotes out there that swear you and only you control your life, and to a degree that’s absolutely true. Sure, we are in control of what we choose to eat for breakfast, or whether or not we choose to hit the gym, or how we save money or when we say sorry. But there are and will always be things in life that we just can’t control, and probably wouldn’t choose. We likely wouldn’t CHOOSE the hard stuff. Like, the really hard stuff. The job losses or breakups or “you have cancer” phone calls that rock our worlds and change our lives in an instant. We don’t raise our hands and opt into that stuff, and we can feel totally helpless when in the thick of it when we realize how little control we do have over final outcomes.
So are we in control of all things? Absolutely not.
But here’s what we CAN control: our perspective and our choices.
And sometimes, the only choice we have is to let go of trying to control the uncontrollable – because it is exhausting and impossible – and instead just refuse to BE controlled by it. Refuse to let it be the thing that breaks you – the thing that destroys you. Refuse to let it consume your every thought, refuse to let it fill you with worry, refuse to let it hurt you more than it already has. Of course, sometimes this can feel easier said than done, and other times it can feel straight up impossible.
But on those days, it’s about choosing it louder – saying it again and again and again until there’s SOME PART OF US somewhere that starts to believe it. Saying that we’ll be OK – that we’ll carry on, that the sun will shine after the rain.
I can’t control it, so I can’t let IT control ME.
I will rise above the overwhelm, if only for a moment, to catch a breath and not drown.
I will seek out little joys, because big hurt doesn’t automatically eliminate big blessings.
I will thrive beyond the pain, because through pain comes new strength.
Pain is mandatory, but suffering is optional.
Depending on your present perspective, that might feel freeing – or it might feel like a crock of BS. But it’s true regardless. We all carry stuff through life. Baggage, luggage – call it what you want, but it’s heavy stuff that can weigh us down and make it just about impossible to move forward if we don’t take the time to unpack it altogether.
You’re bigger + better than that.
Lighten your load. You deserve it.