One of the trickier aspects of being human is having a logical brain that understands cause and effect. You do something; I have a reaction. Thus you caused my reaction. Right? So then my efforts go into making sure you don’t do that thing so I don’t have the reaction. If I can just get you to use a different tone, or not talk first thing in the morning, or be sure to give me space after I had a hard day, then I won’t react and feel these irksome feelings, say those disagreeable words, behave badly.
There are several problems that arise from this logic. A major one is this: I have no control over your behavior. I can whine and cajole and nag and manipulate, but after expending all of this energy trying to change you, there’s the bottom-line truth–that I can’t control you a bit. Gay Hendricks uses a two-file system, what we can control and what we cannot. Other people’s behavior goes squarely into what we cannot control.
Notice what we do have control over. It’s a pretty small list, really. It pretty much comes down to what we say and what we do, and to some extent, what we think about.
The good news about understanding our rather small locus of control is that, if we’re interested in using our energy wisely, we can choose right here, right now, to change what we do have control over. We don’t have to wait around for our partners to have enough therapy, or get enough common sense. We don’t have to wait for the world to change its ways. We can simply sit down, wonder “How am I creating this?” and then make the shift. Right now.