Control is an Illusion
Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the famed serenity prayer. In short it states,”Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Profound words to live by in my opinion. Needing to know is where my burning desire for control stems. I remember being in therapy and discussing how anxious I was that we don’t know where we go after our time on earth. My therapist at the time suggested, “Just make something up. Your guess is as good as anyone else. Make it up and let it be your truth.” I remember just staring at her thinking, “What! That’s not going to work!” But it did. From that point on I realized that control is an illusion; it is often what we tell ourselves to get through the hard stuff, a coping mechanism. For example, one might need to create an illusion of control to help get through situations such as a panic attack by believing you have more control over your destiny driving in a car than flying in a plane.
This truth was really compounded, when I was pregnant with my daughter. As most pregnant moms do, I began thinking of all the things that could go wrong during my pregnancy, labor, delivery, and after. When I watched The Business of Being Born by Abby Epstein, I began to realize only some of what I was anxious about was actually in my control. Things like when the baby is coming, if she will be healthy, if I will be able to labor at home, etc., I had little to no control over. On the other hand, what I ate, how I treated my body, which doctor I chose, etc. were notions I had actual control over.
So, like the serenity prayer suggests, I had to actualize what is within and what is without my control in order to advance to a state of acceptance. It came as a relief to me to let go, to focus my energy and strength on being healthy and well prepared, to realize the control I thought I had was just an illusion. In short, I freed myself of worrying what happens to me after I die, and I embraced the pregnancy, labor, and delivery that was intended for me.