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Marriage and Family

Controlling the Controllable

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11/01/2011 - When I was in high school, a friend of mine had a dog with a very funny peculiarity. We were over at his house getting ready to go somewhere. Before we could leave he had to get his dog to go outside. The dog had other ideas and had no desire to leave the living room. The funny part was in what it took to get the dog outside. My friend stood by the back door and began singing a song. "Oh, the weather outside is frightful…" When he began to sing, the dog bolted for the door.

We are now sitting in the fall with winter fast approaching. This is a time when many people begin preparing for the weather. Blowing out sprinkler systems, checking the antifreeze in the car, replacing filters in the heating systems and replacing the car tires are many ways we prepare for something we can't control. Can you remember the first time you lost control of your car on icy roads? Have you ever experienced damage to your property due to our gentle Wyoming breeze or had frozen pipes? A loss of control can elicit emotions such as fear and anger.

We, as humans, often go through great extremes to try and maintain some sense of control. Ironically, much of our time, money and energy go into controlling the uncontrollable. Our attempts to control other people and circumstances are futile. We can't make other people do as we wish them to. We also can't control whether or not we contract a chronic or terminal illness. We don't get to determine if someone survives a tragedy and we surely don't control the weather.

With as much time and energy as we put in controlling the uncontrollable, many of us spend very little time learning to control the controllable. The one thing we can control is ourselves. We are responsible for our own decisions, attitudes, thoughts and responses. When we are angry, disappointed, hurt or upset in any way, we must remember who we are responsible for. It is us, and no one can be blamed for our actions and decisions but ourselves. The contrary is also true. No body else can take control of us. No one has the power to make us do or feel in any way. If we are manipulated, angered or taken advantage of, it is because we allowed this to happen. It is up to us to work towards controlling the controllable.

This is the last point I have in being people of integrity. We can go a long way in defeating the disease of selfishness if we properly place our attention where it belongs. Remember, selfishness is a disease of the self. The only cure is to deal with ourselves.

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