Jessica Soroky’s Guest Post #34: I Am the Only Control I Have

The other day, I sat at a red light, waiting to turn left, patiently watching the other lights switch to green one by one.

I slowly started to let off the brake with the expectation that my light would turn green next, yet instead it stayed red and the lights next to mine turned.

Instantly I was frustrated, I was in a hurry and was tired of waiting for this light to change.

I had set an expectation, and when it didn’t come true, I very quickly moved to a mental state of denial, resulting in me feeling angry.

I’m telling this story because recently I had a breakthrough when I became aware of just how many times I cause my own frustration by walking into a situation with an expectation that then isn’t being met.

This breakthrough, or “Well, s**t” moment, hurt. The awareness of what I was doing to myself sounded like glass shattering in my head. It was as if a movie scene from my life replayed, this time with new clarity on my contribution to the event.

The plot line was always the same: I would get an idea in my head about how a situation should go – or how a person should act – and when that didn’t happen, I would blame the situation or the person.

This wasn’t just something I did in my professional life – it has played a large part in my personal life as well.

Here’s the story…

About two years ago, a relationship I had been in for over 5 years ended. Looking back on it, I started many arguments after my expectation of how he should act didn’t happen.

I’m highly aware now of how big a part I played in our relationship ending. This was hard to swallow; it was so much easier to blame him. Now I blame myself, beating myself up.

It took me a few days to process as I moved from shame back to blame.

Shout-out to Disney for conditioning me — and I’m sure many other girls — into believing men would sweep you off your feet, save you from the dragon, and move mountains to make you happy. I blamed this conditioning for setting my expectations.

Reality, however, was very different, and when behaviors didn’t meet expectations, I held him to account for something he never agreed to.

At work it was no different. I would walk into a meeting or conversation with an expectation of the outcome and then got frustrated when the outcome changed or deviated.

How could I call myself an agilest when I adapted so poorly to change?

I started to evaluate why I was so upset when things didn’t go the way I expected. I was in what we call the Control Prison, believing I could control outcomes.

My coaches helped me see that I felt frustration stemming from disappointment of someone/something not meeting my expectations — even though I set the expectations, not them.

I really struggled with hearing this. I hate disappointing people I care about or respect, yet I was setting up situations and people to disappoint me.

I was at cause (i.e, in the cause-and-effect equation, I was in the position of cause) for my reality. All the frustration I had felt during these situations was only there because I created it, I chose it.

Shame came easy again. How could I do this to people, to myself?
How long was I going to do this to myself?

I wasn’t getting anything out of dwelling on these mistakes. I didn’t have a fairy godmother who would come in and change my past with a flick of her wand.

So I asked myself, could I accept that my past played out the way it did? Could I allow for my contributions? Of course I could. I instantly felt relief. I had broken my cycle of blame and shame and reached a mental state of responsibility.

My past behaviors and contributions are just true, not right or wrong. And I forgive myself for all of them!

Going forward, it is my intention to replace expectations with allowing. I intend to enter conversations, interactions, and meetings with a mindset that whatever happens, I can allow it to be true.

I am the only control I have — it is a waste of energy to try to control anything else.

Jessica Soroky, CSM

Only 21 years old, Jessica is already a Certified Scrum Master with two years of practice in agile delivery and team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.

Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Get in on The Leadership Gift Program free content-rich preview, or get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.

Posted in Responsibility on 04/30/2014 08:35 am
double line
responsibility.com logo dark circle