Detoxing Control

In order to eliminate some undo stress in my life, I have decided to take a “30-Day Detox Challenge”. Each month I will identify a poisonous substance that influences negative or ill thoughts, feelings, or experiences in my life. After identifying the action or thought that is toxic, I will concentrate on removing the toxic influence and taking the necessary steps towards forgiveness. My hopes are that this journey will provide me with a new outlook on life.


I start the month of October with one of my favorite quotes:

“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”   Steve Maraboli

Why is this one of my favorite quotes? Because I have a problem. It is a recognized problem, but a problem, nonetheless. My problem is control.

I need…

  • To have my days planned out several weeks in advance.
  • To have my sock drawer color coordinated.
  • To go to bed at night without dirty dishes in my kitchen sink.
  • To have a clean inbox for all five of my email addresses.
  • To know that my children are being respectful and mindful of their behavior at all times.
  • To have my closet hangers all facing the same way.

…and the list goes on and on.

I need to always be in control of my life and have a say in what decisions and outcomes come from a situation.  While I am a very organized person because of this “fault”, I am also a person that has much undo stress, very little sleep, and is challenged by decisions that are out of my control.

This past week has been especially difficult for me.  On Monday, I left for a business trip that has taken me to a different state for five days.  I think that most people would have looked at a a few nights away from home as a way to be held less accountable for potential troubling situations at home.  Instead, I found myself making a very specific list that needs to be completed while I am gone – chores, appointments, dinners, practices, etc.  My list was so complex that it took two 8 1/2″ x 11″ pieces of paper and a very small font to include all of the information that I needed to convey.  Don’t get me wrong… I believe that the list was necessary.  However, it was necessary because I have chosen to independently take on too much responsibility.  Had I shared most of these obligations with others (in particular my husband, who asks to be more involved) and not solely taken on so many tasks, maybe I would have the time and freedom to enjoy life’s little pleasures, instead of always working, studying, cleaning, or preparing things for the next day.  I admit it – I have only myself to blame.

This is why I am identifying “control” for the month of October as the one action or thought that is toxic in my world that causes negative experiences in my life.  I am going to attempt to focus on the things that are healthy to concentrate on.  I am going to do this not by changing the person that I am, but by redirecting my control in a different way.  I am going to focus on the things that I CAN control.

I CAN control…

  • How often I say “Thank you.”
  • How much time I spend worrying.
  • How many times I smile each day.
  • How deeply I breathe when I experience stress.
  • How many risks I take.
  • How many times I say “I love you.”

…and the list goes on and on.

Although this is only my second month of my “30-day Detox Challenge,” this toxin will perhaps be my hardest challenge in this entire process.  Control is apparent in every aspect of my life and has been a learned behavior for several years.  I think that control is essential in certain situations – at a business meeting, at a slumber party with several 8-year-old girls, etc.  However, my family would probably agree that this is my weakest trait.  The need to control everything causes my mind to simulate the “Energizer Bunny”.  It keeps “going and going”… a reference that a very special person once taught me (you know who you are)!  I have very little autonomy and freedom from my own will and actions.  By ridding myself of this toxin, and no longer being encumbered by a controlling behavior, I intend to find some inner peace and create a more inviting and pleasant persona.

“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.”   -Daniel H. Pink,