Being Out of Control is a Good Thing


I’ve wanted to write about my control issues for a long time, but I was never sure how to articulate it effectively.

I’m still wholly unsure.

In fact, I have no idea how this thing is going to turn out, and I’m massively insecure about it. Oh well. I can always go back to stories about falling through glass tables.

My parents were nice enough to come up for Father’s Day. We were also celebrating my birthday which was last Monday. This morning at brunch the music at the restaurant was up a little too loud for my liking. It pierced my ears a bit. Now, I’ve written about how I probably have Sensory Processing Disorder which basically means that I’ve overly sensitive to stimuli. I don’t mind music at breakfast, but this was loud, hip-hop music, and it bugged me. I thought I was going to have to ask our waiter if they could turn down the volume.

Then I noticed in the lyrics they said the f-word a few times. Now, I’m no prude, and a good “fuck” can make for some great art. I use it all the time. But I didn’t want to hear it over orange juice at a trendy restaurant at ten in the morning. And then it hit me…

I can’t block out the music because I can’t control it.

My parents didn’t seem to notice the music. It was loud to me, but registered no impression on them. They didn’t hear the lyrics or mind the techno beats. That aggravated me even more. Sure, I have a little more sensitivity to stuff like this, but surely they were bothered! They weren’t.

Not having control over people, places, or things, I’ve come to realize, is a major issue for me.

At work, I have full control over my job. I’m very lucky. If I want to bring my dog in, I do. If I want to bike in, I do. Should I want to leave early, I can. Nobody tries to change what I do or how I do it.

I also live alone. Everything is within my control, too. I don’t have to deal with a girlfriend, wife, or roommate. Currently I’m single so I spend most of my time by myself. More control.

But when I’m in a situation where I’m not the center of the universe, I freak out.

I met a friend’s parents the other night for dinner. Even though they were perfectly lovely, I wanted to bolt after dinner but had to wait for them to finish their beers. I was uncomfortable even though I had no reason to be. They only had one beer all through dinner, yet I almost couldn’t wait the extra four minutes. Weird.

I was taken to a party recently where I literally only knew my date. There were over eighty people at this gathering. Part of my day-job is that I interview people for positions. I’m used to striking up conversations with strangers. I have no problem going over and talking with anyone.

But at this party I found myself annoyed at everything and everyone (except my date). I was so uncomfortable and rarely struck out on my own. I sat in one spot and just felt out of sorts and angered. I wanted the drunk dude to cease being so loud. I wanted to stop someone from singing karaoke because they sucked. I wanted my date to introduce me to more people. I wanted to be alone when I was eating the food. In short, I wanted to be in control. It’s a lot of “wanteds” that I couldn’t control.

Over the past few months this control thing has made it difficult for me to enjoy being in groups with people. I just want to go home and isolate. Not healthy.

How I got over the hip hop issue this morning is the lesson here. I knew that since I didn’t want to be a dick and ask them to change the volume just for me, I would just have to learn to tolerate it. Could I sit in discomfort and would that ease the discomfort?

Learning how to tolerate that which I don’t like is really tough for controlling personalities like mine.

Here’s what happened. About ten minutes in, the music drifted away and I didn’t notice it anymore. I mean, this was bizarre. I had such a visceral reaction initially. I sat through some tough feelings of wanting to control it, and over time my body acclimated. I actually enjoyed it!

When I let go of my need for control, I experienced relief from discomfort. In essence I need to tolerate that which I don’t like.

So, going forward I’m going to force myself to not run when faced with tough feelings. Not to go off by myself every time. Not to leave the social gatherings. In short, learn how to be out of control. This is a good thing.


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Comments 9

  1. congratulations…..at least you are learning to recognise the signs and can make the effort to, shall i say it…control it!
    it is hard to let go of that feeling of control…..i still am trying to get a handle on it

  2. Respect, dude, but break up the joint next time. No self-respecting homey who takes his folks into a restaurant should be beaten over the head with loud hip-hop and ‘pop a cap in a cop’s ass’ lyrics, lessin there’s a big sign outside shouting ‘We play LOUD music in here motherfucker with FUCKING OFFENSIVE lyrics, OKAY!’. There’s gettin in touch with your femine side, then there’s taking it up the gravy boat, man. But I get the party thing totally. And the person who invented Karaoke should be staked out over an ant’s nest and smeared with high-grade manuka honey.

  3. A screaming baby that is out of control at 2 am really puts some perspective on “control”. Ask any new parents.

  4. Paris, I totally relate to your blog post. I’m Christian Life Coach . I am also a totally ‘highly sensitive person.” This is both a blessing and a curse. On the upside, I am VERY in tuned to my clients’ needs and am able to work very effectively to help them move forward towards their goals. On the downside, I, am currently in a coffee shop where the music is driving me crazy (just as you described)! I’m learning that one doesn’t come without the other. Being highly sensitive is a packaged deal…it comes with the great and the annoying. I’m learning to embrace it all! Sometimes, I cater to myself. Sometimes I stretch myself for the benefit of those around me. I look to strike that middle ground of balance. It’s an interesting journey, but a worthwhile one! Happy travels on your way, friend!

  5. I like how you sit with your emotions as you realize they are not helping you grow. To me, this is a benefit of your independent lifestyle You have plenty of time (and room) to become more self-aware, and to work on the things that you need to work on.

  6. Pleased to meet you, DJ. It’s not easy admitting to being a control freak. You are courageous. It’s so easy for me to see it in others and not in myself. What is helping me is the Serenity Prayer.: God Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. I find myself running away a lot. If a situation isn’t perfect, I leave. This is really immature. I need to stick it out and accept it. Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today! Simple but powerful!

  7. I’ve relegated my OCD to the mugs. The handles must be on the right side, mugs right side up and they must be rotated so they all get fair and equal use. I blame that last one on my days in retail spent facing, blocking and rotating stock. It’s really hard sometimes to not let my control issues spill over into other areas of my life but I swallow it and feed it with Cheetos until the urges die.

    My roommate learned very quickly not to fuck with the mugs because that kind of ass fuckery is not funny. Consequences are swift and fit the crime.

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