You’ve had a crummy day at the office, and you’re trying to get home. There are multiple accidents on your route home, and you’ve been sitting in traffic for over an hour because of something you can’t control. Everyone is slowing down to rubberneck, and it’s caused other accidents! Now you’re 45 minutes behind schedule, and you still have a million things to get done before you have company over for dinner in 2 hours. Your patience is running out. Can’t people just drive and ignore the accident? You have stuff to do, and you need to get out of here now!!
Can you feel your shoulders creeping up to your ears? Are your hands clenching the steering wheel? Do you mumble a few choice words under your breath at the people trying to get a better look at the accident?
This example may seem like a bit of an exaggeration, but we’ve all been in situations where we wish we just had a bit more control over how things were going; Where you wish you could speed up or slow down time. Or, where you wish you could’ve said something else or taken something back — where you just want a do-over.
Okay, now picture a horse.
Now, you may be asking yourself…
What do horses have to do with this and what can they teach me about control?
The average horse is 1000 lbs of bone, muscle, sinew, and fear. Yes, your average horse may appear majestic and powerful, but chances are they’re also afraid of plastic bags.
So, what does this have to do with control?
Well, let’s do the math. A 1000lb horse being led by a 150lb person. If the horse doesn’t want to move, what chance does the 150lb person have of bringing the horse to where the person wants to go?
Chances are, you’ve figured out that the answer is no. If the horse doesn’t want to go, the person doesn’t have a chance.
How can this situation help you learn about control?
That 1000lb horse can’t be forced, coerced, pushed, intimidated, pulled, bribed, or dragged into any situation it doesn’t want to be in. If I really wanted to, I could probably use a scary plastic bag to frighten the horse into going where I want them to go. But that’s not going to give me long-term results I want. Plus, it may mean that the next time I try to bring that horse to that place, they’re even less likely to go where I ask because I’ve now made it a scary place.
It’s counter-intuitive, but letting go will give you more control.
As humans, we tend to want to hold onto things harder and muscle our way through until we get our way. Sometimes, this approach works. A lot of the time, it backfires spectacularly.
By loosening your grip on the lead rope, you’re giving that horse the option of saying no. But you’re also telling them that it’s okay to take a minute to breathe before trying. If you hold that rope tightly, you’re putting tension on that horse, and as a prey animal it will either make them nervous or make them pull away and fight back.
A game of tug-o-war between the 150lb human and 1000lb horse is not an even match nor will it go well for the human.
By allowing slack in that rope, you’re also telling the horse that you trust them to make the right decision. That you trust your relationship and you trust the bond between you and that horse.
By letting go and giving slack I regain control. Click To Tweet
Sound like a metaphor for anything else in life?
How often do we have a crummy day at work and come home only to blow up at our significant other/children/pets over something small and insignificant?
Often we don’t take the time we need to release the tension that builds up from a lack of control. That stress usually finds its way out somehow and generally in a less-than-productive manner.
By spending time with that 1000lb horse, by remembering to breathe and regroup before taking another step, and by acknowledging that the best level of control you can achieve can come from letting go of what you can’t control, you can have the inner balance to tackle anything that comes your way.I have the inner balance to tackle anything that comes my way. Click To Tweet
Remember this the next time you’re stuck in that traffic, or you’ve had a rough day at the office, or things just aren’t going your way. Remember to take that breath and let there be slack in your rope. Discuss this blog and the concept of letting go for more control on the official discussion thread in the WWC Online Community!