Sunday, November 7, 2010

Repeat After Me: "I Can't Control Other People, I Can't Control..."

Some days I have to go to a quiet place -  inside myself: inside my house: outside into nature - wherever I can find solitude and serenity at that moment, and remind myself of my powerlessness.

When I feel that irritation rising in my chest, I know enough to stop talking, close my mouth firmly upon the words fighting themselves to spill out and over, and walk away.

I can't control other people. I can't force them to do anything. Not one single solitary measly thing can I make someone else do. They do what they choose to do, and all my yarping, harping, moaning, reasoning, complaining and explaining, none of it will have the slightest effect, if they choose not to do whatever it is.

I can ask. I can request. I can suggest. But I cannot force my will upon another person, even if I am thoroughly convinced, (as I always seem to be at those moments, coincidentally) that I am in the right, and being perfectly reasonable in my asking.

It is completely irrelevent that I have requested twenty thousand times previously, that they not allow our male dog to strut out into the back forty, and bark like a raving lunatic, screaming dog warnings of imaginary monsters approaching, requiring that he exercise his lungs, letting all in the neighbourhood know to take cover.

Or perhaps he's just alerting the other dogs within a 30 mile radius, that there's a large black squirrel in one of our trees; who knows what goes on in dog brain?
Whatever he's doing with all that barking, he's doing it with surprising volume for a small 18 pound creature, and will continue unabated, unless I open the sliding glass door and correct him, at which point he will immediately assume that canine "picture of angelic innocence" pose, and pretend that it must have been some other creature making all that noise, because he's just out here sniffing, honestly! No really, barking? He hasn't barked all day, he doesn't remember doing it, anyway, he might have loosed off one or two in early morning, when he saw that deer, but not recently, goodness no....

I just have to open the door, stick my head out, and say quietly, "Stop that racket" and he stops. He knows that if he doesn't, he'll be in doggy time-out. My spouse, on the other hand, can open the door and roar a command, and be completely ignored - he won't follow through, the dog knows it, so he pays no attention.

I've said this many more times than I ever should have, and boy did I want to say it again just now. Instead, I went out, got the dog, put him into time-out and came into my workroom and wrote this post. That way, I don't have to make an amend later, for having said something I regret. In a tone I regret.

I close my mouth, walk away, and give myself a little spiritual time-out. It always helps.


  1. The old "Going into the hardware store and being shocked that they don't have bread" syndrome. I hit my head, still, and eventually have enough of a headache to try something different. I can laugh at myself now (and pop a few Advil). :-D


  2. I like the idea of a spiritual time out. I do a lot of pausing when agitated. I understand Step One, yet there are still times that I simply "wish" that others would do as I say. Much work to continue to do every day.

  3. I still mostly remember to pause AFTER I've barked my head off (much like your dog). This post was most timely - life is giving me a spiritual timeout right now and instead of feeling sorry for myself I think I'll see it as the opportunity to learn to trust and listen to something more than my fear laced thoughts. Thanks.