You walk into your kid’s bedroom and start straightening the room. Your spouse suggests eating out and you shut it down because you already have something planned. Your assistant thinks we should move the venue for the offsite and you dismiss it as a bad idea. If it’s not your idea, it’s a bad idea. It’s your way or the highway and it’s exhausting.
I’m crushing my control freak and Thanksgiving was a sure test. Instead of being the Director, stage crew and lead actress, I was a bit part in the most intricate meals to put on during the year. So how did I crush my control freak? Here ya go:
1. They are what they are. In don Miguel Ruiz‘ book, The Mastery of Love, he does a magnificent job comparing your relationship to your loved ones to that of loving a dog. If you own a dog, you don’t try and turn it into a cat. So why do you try and change the people you love in your life into something they aren’t. I’ve asked my husband to walk with me in the morning or meditate. He turns it down every time. So guess what? He’s not a meditator or morning walker. I need to let go of the idea that I can change him. Whew. What a relief. They are what they are. Don’t try and change your dog into a cat or your husband into a Zen Master.
2. Get rid of your agenda. Throw it out. This was incredibly difficult on Thanksgiving. My plan was to not have a plan. No time line. So I was going to relax and let the day play out in a natural non controlled way. My daughter and her boyfriend were driving to the house mid morning. And my son was likely to wake up around noon. No sweat. We will make dinner when we make dinner. This took all my faith and patience as I normally would have been up at 6 AM brining a turkey. But I persevered! Dump your agenda.
3. Be open to new possibilities. Both of my kids are great cooks in their own right. My son has been living in Miami and wanted to try two new dishes for Thanksgiving. One was a Colombian dish called Tostones (fried plantains) and the other was Arroz con Coco (coconut rice). This is not typical Graham Family fare for Thanksgiving. But he had already talked to his sister and they were game to give it a try. So I sat on my hands and shut my mouth. So in the middle of my kitchen on Thanksgiving Day were three young adults deep frying plantains, caramelizing coconut milk and cubing up bread for stuffing. Quite the mélange. A delicious mélange.
4. Less is more. If you have ever been to a dinner party at my house you know that I go overboard. I mean 6 different appetizers, 7 sides, two entrees and 4 luscious desserts overboard. Overkill. Overwhelm. And I am exhausted by the end. So this Thanksgiving I embraced less is more. Since my son wanted to make arroz con coco, I didn’t bother bringing up mashed potatoes. “Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes are you kidding me, Cathy?” Yep. No mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. We roll with arroz con coco.
5. Everyone is wholly perfect. This from Ruiz’s book again. My dog is not half perfect. So why do you think your family is half perfect. I don’t need to change or control anyone. I just need to control my thoughts and let go of my judgments. This is not easy and I know I am a work in progress but just looking to come from a place of acceptance is the secret. Reconfigure your thoughts and begin to believe that everyone is wholly perfect the way they are.
6. Believe in everyone else’s wisdom. When I let go of control on Thanksgiving, everyone else (I mean even the dog) shined. They were all invested. They were all playing their parts and working together like a well oiled machine. This was the first time ever that I gave up the reins of control and everyone rose to the occasion. But you have to believe that they can rise to the occasion. You can’t start thinking about the time your son burnt the pancakes or when your daughter messed up the macaroni and cheese. Have faith and it will find you.
I remember when I initially suggested have the kids make the meal on Thanksgiving, my husband raised one eyebrow and said, “Really?” and I said, “Yeah, don’t you think they can do it?” and he said “I’m not worried about them. Can you let go of control?” So I guess you could say that he threw down the gauntlet. Well I did it. Now so can you.
Originally published on Change Your Thoughts on December 6, 2015