Last night we were reflecting on our gardens, how when we tried to plant in certain cover crops, we ended up not being successful. When we were able to give up on trying to control what came up, we ended up with lambs quarters, plantain, and dandelion. These were the plants the soil needed to be healthy – both for soil regeneration and to keep it covered thus preventing erosion and drought. They also all happen to be edibles.
With parenting, I often will try to ‘take control’ of a situation. This usually leads to the situation escalating and everyone feeling miserable. There are days where the power struggles never seem to end, ending up in a whole day cycle of negativity. If there is behaviour happening that I don’t like, it rarely works to demand it be changed. I have been much more successful setting clear limits with choice attached. It is so very easy to feel I’m getting somewhere by imposing a ‘time out’ (which still happen from time to time in our home, only now they look more like ‘a self-selected independent activity’). Sometimes these are warranted to calm ourselves down (I’m purposely including myself here!) but the manner of delivery and attitude toward the shift is what matters. Similar to the garden, if I swoop in too soon or too fast, I will only end up missing an opportunity to cultivate something worth while. Behaviours, like weeds, are always filling a void.
Nudging. I am working to call my awareness toward nudging in the right direction. I am building trust that things will work out, because they will. When I push too hard, I am met with resistance. From outside myself (the garden, the children, my spouse), but also from within. My mental attachment to controlling a situation or achieving a desired outcome creates stress. Wanting to maintain control also limits my capacity to accept that which deviates from my plan. The harder I try to control something, the tighter my grip is fixed to an ideal. Focus on ideals inevitable leads to discontent, since real life never measures up. It isn’t supposed to. It is what I do not intend to happen which actually allows change. Deviations are what bring about evolution. They need not be forced, they come when there is space. They come when there is a need.
So what would happen if I were able to let go of ‘control’? More aptly put, what could happen if I let go of ‘control’?