a middleSage publication

The Best Advice I Never Got: Let Him Pull The Sle...

The Best Advice I Never Got: Let Him Pull The Sled And Lose The Need To Control

Photo on 8-19-13 at 11.09 AMThis month here on middleSage our topic of choice is “The Best Advice I Never Got”.  We’ll be talking about the lessons we learned later in life, lessons that would have saved us a whole lot of heartache had we learned them earlier.  In the spirit of “I wish I knew then what I know now”!

Today I’m talking about Losing Control.  No, I’m not talking about throwing caution to the wind, or letting go of your inhibitions or even farting in church.  I’m talking today about losing the need to be in control at all times.  I have long held a love/hate relationship with control.  Coming to terms with that has been a slow evolution in my way of thinking.

Being in control all the time offers the illusion of having everything just the way you want it, but it’s exhausting and in the end we know you can never really have everything as we wish, so it’s a real set up for disappointment.  I found myself wanting…longing for someone to help!

Good Therapy had a explanation of the need to control that seemed to suite me to a tee.

Control issues are characterized by a person’s need to micromanageand orchestrate the actions and behaviors of others. Control is most often a reaction to fear. People who struggle with the need to be in control often file0001529921373fear being at the mercy of others. Control issues can develop from traumatic events that created a feeling of helplessness and chaos, thus causing a person to crave control in a disproportionate and unhealthy manner. In some cases, control issues may be a result of being neglected or abused. If a child is abused physically, verbally, or sexually, they may reach a point at which they feel the need to regain control. Many survivors of abuse do not control their abusers, but lash out in anger or hostility, or use confining and restricting emotional strategies, to psychologically control others in their lives. The need to control is an often overwhelming and exhausting need that can wreak havoc on relationships, careers, and overall quality of life. Discovering the source of the fear is the key to confronting the control issue. By understanding why a person needs to feel empowered and in charge of situations or people in their lives, they can begin to see that their fears, although real at the time of their loss or abuse, are distorted and unrealistic in their present lives.


What Can Cause Control Issues?

Reasons for control issues may be related to number of different things including:

Traumatic or abusive life experiences

Failed or failing relationships

Low or damaged self-esteem

A person’s beliefs, values, and faith

O.K.  Three out of Four of those fit me!  I’ll let you guess which ones.


A surprising piece of advice about control came from a therapist I was seeing almost 18 years ago.

I started seeing this therapist many years ago because my first grandchild was born with terminal brain damage.  My biggest concern was that my daughter not turn out to be like my mother who also lost her first child.  My mother didn’t have the proper support and help during her grieving period and she turned into a bitter, narcissistic, and joyless woman.  I didn’t want that for my daughter, so I sought help to be the proper support system she was going to need.

After many therapy sessions, I had invited the man I was going to marry to attend one of my counseling sessions so he could help me support my daughter.  At the end of the counseling session, I thought we were just chatting, but I realize now the therapist hat never came off.  The therapist looked at my husband and said, “She’s (meaning me) had a tough journey so far, it’s time for you to pull the sled – do you think you can do that?”  My husband dutifully nodded his head.  She then turned to me and said, “And you have to learn to let him!”

I was going to this therapist to learn how to help my daughter, we never talked about control.  Just my life so far.  But she could see right through me, and this piece of advice sinks in every time I feel myself fighting the need to control a situation.

apple barbWhen I retired from my professional career and dabbled in retail to just keep busy – it was sometimes a tough transition to not be the person in charge and just do the task at hand.  I was used to seeing (and being) the big picture, planning 6 months to a year out, being the “go to” person that had all the answers.  I controlled most situations in my professional career….dabbling in retail I just made sure my tennis shoes were tied, and there weren’t any wrinkles in my tee shirt.  I was taking direction from people younger than my children.  I worked hard to find a balance between “owning” the task at hand and going above and beyond, and just putting in my time – which didn’t come with even the tiniest amount of satisfaction.  It took me a couple of years and working for a really great retail giant (Apple) to find my comfort zone.  The fine people I worked with at Apple gave me a sense of ownership without the need to control…it took almost a year before I embraced it, but once I did, it was the best experience I ever had.  What a great feeling to be part of a team!

Growing up, I had an ever present feeling of impending doom.  I learned early on and quickly what I had to do to avoid…the doom.  Control.  What took me years to perfect, has taken about that long to forget.  There is no team work in control.  There is no camaraderie in control.  There is no laughing until your sides hurt in control.

If I am surrounded by people who respect the boundaries that I worked so hard at finding, there is no impending doom.  Disappointed isn’t the same thing as impending doom.  I can live with the occasional disappointment.

I can live better if I let him pull the sled, and he’s been pulling it for almost 18 years!




  1. Carol Cassara

    22 October

    This spoke to me—lots to think about. Thanks for the meaty post!

  2. Sue

    22 October

    I have thoughts about control, impending doom, and disappointment, but you put this is a very clear easy to understand way. Thanks for the advice.
    Sue recently posted…Real Housewives Of NYC LuAnn de Lesseps Farmhouse in the HamptonsMy Profile

  3. lisa Froman

    22 October

    Lovely. And I love the expression….about pulling the sled.

  4. Janie Emaus

    22 October

    I love that saying
    …let him pull the sled.

  5. Lee Aldrich

    24 October

    I’m coming from the fear part of this….that is won’t be done right, on time, as well, etc. It’s a hard lesson to unlearn. Particularly since it seems to be a family behavior pattern. I’m trying hard, though!

  6. Tiffany

    26 October

    Yes, I hear ya and the therapist about letting someone pull the sled. I’ll take it a step further and say I don’t have to tell him how fast or slow to go, nor do I have to direct the route. Great post!

    • Barbara Coleman

      26 October

      yes Ma’am! You hit the nail on the head! Surrendering to an alternative route or journey…neither fast nor slow is correct, nor the way you get there. Sometimes you see more going that way! Thanks for reading Tiffany!

  7. This post gives me a lot to think about. I am used to being in charge so it is difficult to let others pull the sled, even my husband.
    Herchel Scruggs (@Scruggbug) recently posted…When a Spoon full of Sugar Does NOT Help the Medicine Go DownMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      26 October

      You’re right about it being difficult to let others pull the sled, but it’s exhausting pulling your own. Thanks for reading and making an insightful comment!

  8. Carli

    26 October

    Wow. I can totally relate. I am the “always in control” one and when I am in a situation when I shouldn’t be in control, I don’t know how to act!!! I was always an office manager, but when I took a job as just a receptionist (wanted to work part time because I had my first son and with the down turn of the economy I had no other options) and I just couldn’t handle not being in control! I just knew what was best but no one cared. It was weird. Thank you for sharing!
    Carli recently posted…7 Day Stockpile Challenge—Night #3—BrinnerMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      26 October

      Yup, totally relate to what you felt as a receptionist! People don’t care. We tend to translate to they must not care about me, if they’re not listening. I like Eleanor Roosevelts quote: “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”

  9. Dee Williamson

    26 October

    Hi! Stopping by from the Showoff Linky Party at Blogging Bunch. What a beautiful post! It really spoke to me.
    Dee Williamson recently posted…Saturday Show-Off LinkyMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      28 October

      Thanks for stopping by Dee! Your always welcome here at middleSage!

  10. Missy Homemaker

    26 October

    This is an amazing post of so many levels. It speaks to me being a mother, and letting my kids sometimes pull the sled in various areas of their own lives, and I have to learn to let them.
    Missy Homemaker recently posted…Saturday Soapbox #4My Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      28 October

      I think it’s especially hard when you have kids at home. Husbands don’t have the same thought process as we Mom’s do – they can’t pack a backpack, lunch or know that one of the little ones has a birthday so that means treats for 27 little kids in a peanut free class room. However, the only way we learned to do all that we do is by trying and failing and trying and succeeding. We have to let others fail, so they can succeed. Thanks for stopping by middleSage!

  11. Alecia

    26 October

    This hit home for me. I am a control freak and I always have to be in control. It has been that way since early on – if I’m in control then I feel like I won’t fall or fail. For me it’s hard to turn over control and let someone else pull the sled. Perhaps I really need to look at giving the control over more. Thanks for this post.
    Visiting from SITTSharefest.
    Alecia recently posted…Day Twenty-Six – Organize MyselfMy Profile

    • Barbara Coleman

      28 October

      It’s just plain exhausting being the one that’s in charge all the time. We want help, but are always afraid of things not turning out the way we want them to. That’s part of the painful change. You can do it!

  12. Tahnya Kristina

    28 October

    It’s really hard to accept that you can’t control everything. I’m learning more and more each day that I need to let go a little bit. So far, so good 🙂
    Tahnya Kristina recently posted…Please Bethenny Frankel I’m begging youMy Profile

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: