I have this great memory of myself learning how to dive off of the diving board. My older sister was egging me on, fearless as she has always been. I had always been fearful, had always clutched to control like safety blankets or one of those handlebars on the interior passenger side of a car.
I stood on the edge of the diving board, toes gripping, stepping forward and back, anxiously biding my time deciding whether I should run-n-jump to expel some of the nervous fidgeting, or just-do-it off the edge like it was no big deal.
I walked to the back end of the diving board, and started my run. It didn’t last long, as my fear stopped me just short of the edge of the board, unable to commit to the jump-but-Uh-oh!Oh no!Wait!Too late!
I stumble-splashed into the deep end, embarrassed, and… realizing… that it’s not that far to fall.
Perhaps you’ve had similar experiences?
We recognize that we can’t control gravity’s pull on us, or the temperature of the water we land in. But we do have control over our own attitude towards it. We can choose to dive in with style or humor or shame.
Often when it comes to recognizing our sphere of control, we have impractical, unrealistic expectations of ourselves. This can lead to some very unsatisfying interactions.
And what’s more- sometimes I find myself controlling, not only things that are out of my control, but things that would go smoother if only I stopped interfering! I’d like to highlight this story from a mother in the “(un)schooling movement:”
“I went grocery shopping and bought some snacks for my family; chocolate cookies, sour cream & onion potato chips, rainbow sherbet, grapes and baby carrots. My 12 year old unschooler came into the kitchen and I showed her the snacks I bought. Her immediate response? “Ooooooo – grapes!!!!”.
Out of all those snacks, the grapes were the first to be finished.
What was last? The cookies.
Now I’m not saying this happens all the time…sometimes the cookies go first. And that’s okay! The point is, she chooses healthy foods on her own, without any bribery or coercion.”[source]
So rather than tightening grip of control around ourselves, or others, perhaps we can find the flexibility to open space for greater freedom, choice, and the support for healthy decisions. Rather than rules, let’s cultivate a healthy environment in which to play, and then, we can really jump right in!