Last week, my older kids wanted to watch movies about elves and hobbits and swords. These are movies to watch after putting the younger kids to bed, so: late night hobbit movies.
I watched with them and learned an important lesson. If you stay up until late o’clock watching movies with your kids, it does not matter if you get up early or sleep in the next day. You will be useless before noon either way. You might as well sleep in. That is what I learned.
I wonder if my big kids will remember this as a season of Watching All The Movies. Or maybe they will remember it as the season Mom and Dad said yes every time anyone asked to bake cookies. Or maybe they will remember something else entirely, I don’t know.
I do know that I’m not in control of what they remember.
This has been a season of realizing ALL THE THINGS we’re not in control of. We were never in control of most things anyway, but we sure thought we were, and we spent plenty of time TRYING to control things that were actually not controllable.
Now we get to see more clearly: we’re not in control, but we are in charge of lots of things. We’re in charge of things like how we show up, and how much news we consume, and what we focus on every day.
But we’re never going to be in charge of EVERYTHING!
And when we try to be in charge of things that aren’t ours to handle, we make ourselves miserable.
And as a bonus, we will probably make everyone around us miserable, too! Let’s not do that.
Instead let’s stick with the things we ARE in charge of, and let other people handle the things they’re in charge of.
So I give you: three things you DON’T have to be in charge of, now or ever, and what you can focus on instead.
Three Things You DON’T Need To Be In Charge Of
You are not in charge of what anyone else thinks or feels.Everyone gets to have their own experience of this moment, and everyone gets to decide what this experience means for them. You don’t have to be in charge of how anyone else thinks or feels. (You’re not even in charge of what your KIDS think or feel, if you happen to have kids.)
You CAN be in charge of what you bring to someone else’s experience of this time.
You CAN be present while someone else processes their feelings.
You CAN offer someone other ways of thinking about things.
You CAN trust other people to feel their feelings.
You can be in charge of all that. But you’re not in charge of what they think or feel.
You are not in charge of what anyone else thinks or feels ABOUT YOU.Even if you’re doing your absolute best, even if you’re making choices on purpose, even if you’re doing what you truly believe you and your people or your community need right now, EVEN THEN, someone may still have OPINIONS about you and your choices. (They might be completely wrong. That is beside the point.)
The point is, they are allowed to have their own thoughts and feelings and opinions. Those belong to them. They’re not really about you, anyway; they’re about what the other person needs or wants or believes or fears.
You are in charge of THE THOUGHTS YOU THINK about their opinions.
You are in charge of deciding whether you think: “Oh no, I had better change my whole life to make someone else comfortable!” or whether you think: “Okay, that person gets to have their opinion. That belongs to them. I will trust them to have their thoughts and I will just keep living my life over here.”
You are in charge of that.
You are not in charge of doing all this perfectly every time.You are not in charge of being perfect, because you are human, and humans aren’t perfect.
Such a bummer! But we’re not.
From my book, Permission Granted:
“You were made to be the person you are, and the person you are—the self you are underneath everything else, your true self—is good. That is the truth about you. That is the truth about me. The truth does not include being perfect. I was following a map that was supposed to get me there, but perfect is not a place you can go.
The search for perfect is a road with no destination, and I want to get somewhere.I want to get to the place where I can hear the voice of love without a whole bunch of other noise getting in the way. The road to get there looks like showing up, being your real self, and making space for all the other travelers along the way.”
That’s what you’re in charge of.
You’re not in charge of being perfect, you’re in charge of being real. That’s it. xo.