To learn more about the foundation of the control commandment, and how to best apply it to your own life, please either watch the video and/or read the commentary provided below.
I hate regrets.
Even just the thought of starting a sentence with "if only I had done..." makes my heart start racing. I can’t remember how early on I realized this was a pet peeve of mine, and I honestly feel like I’ve just always been this way. I just hate not not knowing; not having definitive answers. And yet, it wasn't until recently that I realized how much I wasn’t evenly applying this life philosophy to other important aspects of my life.
Now when it came to finding a bae, I could never go too long before I had to shoot my shot and let'em know how I felt about them. Even though I always knew that there was never going to be any return dunking going on in my basket because of how society viewed women who looked like me, there was just something about that “what if…” that felt worse than shooting and missing. Like yeah I know they probably won’t like me BUT, what if they are the one person that actually does, and I don’t say anything, and I’m single for the rest of my life because I didn’t say anything?!?!?! (Insert a shower of blue-in-the-face-screaming emojis).
But it wasn’t until meeting with a life coach over a year ago that I started to realize just how I much I didn’t let this attitude crossover into other important areas of my life-- like advocating for a raise, or asking to doing more elevated projects at work. I would often say to myself, "well if they didn’t respond to my email, then I guess that means they don’t want to do it," or "if I was worthy of a raise, it wouldn’t be this difficult to get it."
Instead of putting my energy into getting definitive answers or knowledge about my situation, and being in control of what was happening, I would instead put my energy into “I guesses,” a close relative of “what if...”, and "if only I had done...". I would say to myself, “I guess they don’t value me enough as an employee if this is what they are offering me,” and I would put energy into resenting them. What I realize now is that I had no real right to put my energy into resenting them because at the time I had not explored any of my options. I hadn’t tried to negotiate. I hadn’t tried to make a case for the work I had done that year. I hadn’t reached out to my manager to see if we were on the same page about the work I had done. I made a choice to create negative energy without even trying to see if there were other solutions. I made an important life decision based on an assumption, and allowed the situation to control me, rather than me using my energy to take control of the situation.
At the heart of the control commandment is the desire to redirect your energy into meaningful actions. Ideally, once you have true clarity on your position, this will give you the knowledge that you need to create options that will give you a sense of control over what direction you want to take next on your life goals. Clarity sets the foundation, and unearths your true motivations; your true why. Clarity allows you to reset your value systems, and realign your habits, goals and self-talk around the values you actually want to believe in.
Once you have a firm understanding about yourself, and the things in life that you actually want to strive towards, the control commandment requires that you pledge to take control over your life by using the 3 Rs; redirecting, refocusing, and recognizing.
You will redirect your energy into creating options that have the ability to produce meaningful outcomes.
You will refocus the center of your motivations around your needs, and acknowledge that your needs have a right to be factored into the life decisions you make.
You will recognize the difference between selfishness and self-actualization, and not allow yourself to get caught in the selfless/selfish false dichotomy.
Women are often depicted as being selfish when they make decisions that have their best interests as a key consideration. This would be true if we followed the old age thinking of women as just supporters and nurturers. However, in the unapologetic age that we live in now, women have to learn how to feel comfortable putting their quest for self-actualization and personal growth on their list of key decision-making factors.
In the past, the phrase "best interests" has always been seen as a synonym for selfish. So women who act in their best interest were always seen as selfish. However, in the new unapologetic age that we are coming into, I have learned to see "best interests" as an umbrella term with two distinctive branches. When someone acts in their best interests, there is still very much the possibility that they are acting in selfishness. However, the other often missed branch when thinking about acting in your best interests is self-actualization. When one is striving towards self-actualization in pursuit of their best interests, it just means that they are acknowledging that they have needs that should be taken into consideration. It is validating that your needs are worthy of deliberation when making a choice.
So is it selfish to always put your needs first? Yes, and that is definitely not a quality to strive towards embodying. But does that mean that it is always selfish to act in your best interests? Nope. Not at all. Selfish people don’t consider anything or anyone else in their decision making process, but themselves. People striving towards self-actualization, on the other hand, know how to balance thinking about the impact of their decisions on others, and making decisions that are 100% about them and their growth. They recognize that if an opportunity gives them the ability to have personal growth, then it is not selfish to at least consider how this opportunity would fit into their lives, and at times, they understand that it is vital to put oneself first. However, they are also able to recognize that there will be times where their needs do not have to be first and foremost, and that other people's opinions might matter more.
Women have lived in the selfish/selfless false dichotomy for far too long, and the control commandment asks that women aim to restructure their relationship with the phrase "best interests," and learn how to take control over their lives in a way that allows them to know that it is ok to acknowledge their needs and growth potential when making decisions.