The Zen Of Losing Control
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“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” ~Hermann Hesse
Over the past few months, something bad has been happening here at Live Bold and Bloom.
Some kind of virus infected my site. (Don't worry. All is well now.) A message in Portuguese would pop up when you'd click on a post directing you to a nasty download, and it wouldn't allow you to read the post or navigate away.
It was just annoying at first, as it happened occasionally and required a quick fix from my tech support person. But then it started happening more and more regularly.
And every time it happened, people would stop reading or unsubscribe. My subscriptions in general started to drop. My online rankings started to plummet. All of the emotional energy and hard work I'd spent over the last few years building this community and my online business was being “infected” by this virus.
At first I was so very angry. Why would someone do this? Why would someone spend their time purposely fostering angst and frustration by creating these viruses? And why were they targeting me — a personal development blogger trying to do a bit of good in the world?
Much of my angst came from not being able to isolate the problem and fix it quickly and permanently. But it mostly came from feeling out of control. I had virtually no understanding of the situation or how to find a solution. I couldn't even comprehend the jargon specific to the issue and the technology.
My tech person would say something to me like, “Do you want to test the sniky blickedy dwip or go directly to the whatcha foozie to see if the snorkle pop disconfigurates?” Truly — that's what is sounded like to me. I would sit there in blank silence, having no idea what she said or how to respond. There's nothing more humiliating and frustrating than trying to answer a question that's completely alien.
I can usually figure out most things within the context of the situation. But I didn't even understand the context. I didn't know half the words she was using.
My increasing frustration and sense of being out-of-control became painfully evident to my ever-patient tech person. I am usually pretty centered and calm. But this situation made my head spin off in a very unattractive way, and my poor techie was the hapless witness to it all. Being an understanding sort, she didn't tell me to go piss off as she could have (should have).
Instead she started talking to me like I was a half-wit. She would explain things very calmly and slowly, using analogies like, “Pretend your site has a big boo boo, and your doctor can't find the boo boo, and he has to search and search and sometimes the boo boo is sneaky and hides.”
I used to get this same feeling of being out of control when something went wrong with my car. I'd start to hyperventilate when the car dude would begin explaining the problem. I just knew he was laughing inside at my ignorance and how he was setting me up to install a new engine to replace my perfectly good one.
Now I base all of my car repair decisions on whether or not the technician looks remotely trustworthy. If he doesn't have a tattoo with blood dripping off a dagger, then we're good to go. I have somehow learned to let go of control with my car issues and most of the time things turn out OK.
But I have much more emotional and financial investment in this site than I do my car. Not only did I feel like things were going to pot with the site in general, but I constantly worried that I was letting YOU down dear reader — that you would think poorly of me and my work.
Of course I know intellectually you weren't thinking about this problem or my site for one blue minute, but I feel a connection to you as though you are my family and I am responsible.
This particular work is my passion and fulfills a deeper sense of purpose. So having someone “attack” it felt like a personal attack. And it felt like I was being cut off from my connection with you.
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't.” ~Steve Maraboli
Earlier in April, after spending over $1000 dollars to have someone diagnose the problem, come up with their best guess as to the cause, and then change themes on my site entirely — the damned problem cropped up again with a demonic fury. There were no quick fixes.
When it happened, I just wanted to lie on the floor and sob.
I'm always telling people that most problems are “figure-out-able.” If you encounter a roadblock, you can always find a solution, blah blah blah. But at that moment, I would have slapped myself silly for this Pollyanna baloney (not really but it felt that way at the time). Nothing was working, and it was wearing me down to a nub.
When faced with a real problem that has no apparent solution, you simply feel helpless. And feeling helpless makes you feel hopeless — which is a slippery slope toward giving up entirely.
However, when this last issue occurred, I finally pulled myself up by my metaphorical bootstraps and gave myself a good shake. In spite of feeling completely out-of-control and sinking toward hopelessness, I realized two important things:
1. I am sharing and teaching personal development here for God's sake! But I was totally devolving into Linda Blair over this problem. I was allowing the problem to change who and how I want to be, even when I feel out-of-control.
2. I do have control over one important thing — how I choose to react and view the problem. I can continue to rail at the universe over my misfortune and frustration, taking out my frustration on the people trying to help me, or I can breathe and take the next logical step. And then the next. And allow the process to unfold calmly.
So I chose to breathe.
I let go of control.
There’s an important difference between giving up and letting go. ~Jessica Hatchigan
I've had to change servers entirely for the site, basically starting over with a new site (although you can't tell the difference). This has cost more money and time with the site down. But I've reached a Zen state of mind about it. I have recognized the world won't come to an end, and I won't lose my business because my site has been down.
So instead of fretting, I used this time to . . .
- reflect on the direction I want to take on Live Bold and Bloom;
- review the site for updates and changes I want to make in general;
- think about new topics I want to write about;
- look for great guest experts to write posts as well;
- work on a self-study course I'll be releasing in the next few months;
- being thankful that I have capable people in my life to help me.
In the meantime, my tech person has been working away at restoring everything and taking care of the details. I decided I wouldn't ask her what she was doing, and I requested she keep me out-of-the-loop of communications about the work to fix it. I just wanted the occasional update on when things would be ready.
Learning to accept the things I could not control in this situation has been a hard-fought state of mind, but I have reached it. I've also learned there are some situations in which you must blindly put your trust in someone's expertise and simply let go and let them handle it.
And finally, I've accepted that I can't be an expert or even remotely knowledgeable on everything related to my business, and this doesn't make me stupid. I simply choose not to focus my time and energy in certain areas. I should be proud of my ability to prioritize rather than criticize myself over perceived limitations.
Sometimes it takes losing control to regain equanimity. Sometimes things have to fall apart so you realize you have little control over anything except how you choose to be and act. That's when you reach a Zen state over losing control and learn to let go.
How about you? Are there situations where you've felt out-of-control? What did you do and how did you find that Zen state? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
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