I struggle with control. I want to control every aspect of my life. This includes but is not limited to my weight, my students and how they behave, what other people think of me, and my spiritual, physical and mental health. Above all I want to control the outcomes of situations in my life. I want to control the future. Yet I know that’s impossible and ridiculous.


The funny thing is that I didn’t realize I had control issues until I got into recovery. I thought me, controlling? Never! Doing recovery work has really helped me to uncover my true self.


I’m not typically controlling with other people, unless I’m in the classroom. The classroom is the place where the controlling side of me comes out. This is when I need to plug in a modified Process Four:


  • Don’t take it personally.
  • Don’t react.
  • Don’t get caught in a power struggle.
  • Stick to business and just teach music.
  • Think before you speak.
  • This too shall pass.
  • Let it go.


  • Don’t get caught in a power struggle: I learned this from a wonderful classroom management class I took a couple of years ago. Getting involved in power struggles rarely works, plus it’s exhausting. So what I do is take a time-out, then continue with my lesson.


It took me a long time to learn the above lesson about power struggles. I thought if I fought hard enough, I could win. That’s not true, especially for someone who has been a passive, conflict-avoidant her whole life. I can’t control what my students think and do. I can do my best to manage their behavior through well planned, interesting lessons. Ultimately, it is the students’ choice how they behave.


A lot of my desire to control things gets stuck in my head in the form of obsessive worrying and anxiety, which does me no good at all. The I should have done this or that! or Why did I do this or that? starts dancing in my head over and over. It’s completely unproductive and crazymaking.


And when I’m behind the wheel of a car and the pace is slower than I would like it to be (i.e. I run into road construction, get behind a dump truck or school bus), I try to control the situation by whining, complaining, and yelling, as if that is going to help. I am always running late and in a hurry. I am still driving safely most of the time, but my behavior inside the car is controlling and agitated. I don’t like this controlling behavior and would like to change it.


The rest of the time I am a passive, compliant person when I am relating to other people.


I also want to control things to avoid feeling guilt, pain, sadness, and shame. I can understand that. I’ve felt enough of that in my life. Why would I want to feel any more?


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