A Battle of Wills
Marnie L. Pehrson
My father is fond of telling a story about when my
brother, Thad, was little and my dad wanted him to eat a
peach. My brother refused -- said it was yucky and wouldn't
eat it. Dad was convinced that if Thad just tried the peach,
he would like it. He told him about how good it was for him
and how wonderful it tasted. But the more he tried to
persuade Thad to eat it, the more my brother resisted. In a
final act of desperation, my father pried Thad's mouth open
and forced the peach in. My brother will not eat a peach to
Was my father wrong in his knowledge that peaches are good
for you? That they taste good? That they are chocked full of
vitamins and minerals? No! He was absolutely correct. But
his methods were not only ineffective, but also
irreversible. Not only did my brother never learn to like
peaches, but also today he probably wouldn't eat one if you
gave him $500!
Sometimes in our zeal for helping others see a better way,
we try to force them to our way of thinking. We explain,
argue, debate, and ultimately try to coerce or guilt trip
others into our way of doing things. I'm guilty of this.
There is a fine line between persuasion and pushing. There
is a delicate line between motivating and coercing. It is my
quest in life to be more aware of this line and not cross
Crossing that line can transform a friend into an enemy or
at the very least make them dig in their heels and refuse to
do what you want them to do. I've never considered myself a
control freak. I'm happy to let people live their lives. My
brother, a perfectionist, disgustedly referred to me as
''good enough Marnie'' in my youth. But, over the last few
years, I've decided I do have some issues with control.
There are different levels of control:
1. The desire to control ourselves, our thoughts and actions
2. The desire to control our own destiny
3. The desire to control events and our environment
4. The desire to control other people and what they think
I have learned of late, that the only thing we really can
control completely is number one – our thoughts and actions.
To a great degree we can control our own destiny assuming we
live in a free environment that allows us to do so. And we
can control much of our environment and some events, but not
all. But when it comes to controlling other people, good
luck. Most stress occurs in our lives because we are trying
unsuccessfully to control our environment, events and other
How many times have you been frustrated or even irate when
the car ahead of you creeps along at 35 miles per hour in a
55 mile per hour zone? How many times have you become
frustrated when your cold pizza is delivered an hour late?
How many times have you lost your temper when a child has
disobeyed you? How many times have you had your feelings
hurt because a boyfriend didn't call? There's not one of
these things that you can control. But you can control how
you react to them. You can choose not to become irate at the
driver ahead of you. You can choose to reheat your pizza in
the microwave. You can opt to give your child a hug for the
attention he craves. You can pick up the phone and either
call your boyfriend or move onto someone new. It's your
choice. You're free to control yourself and your own
thoughts and actions. Insisting on anything more is just
going to cause you stress.
When we concentrate on our own thoughts and actions, we can
actually have great power and influence. When we choose to
set a good example, to share the knowledge we've gained, to
use our time and talents to serve others, we have great
power and influence. But when we take it upon ourselves to
coerce or force anything beyond controlling our own thoughts
and actions, we can expect to reap stress, negative results
and even pain and sorrow.
So the next time you're hit with a stressful situation, take
time to analyze it. How will you react to it? How much of it
can be handled by controlling your own thoughts and actions?
How much of it involves other people, events or environment?
How much freedom do you really have to control the
situation? Think it through and choose wisely.
Marnie L. Pehrson,
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Marnie Pehrson is
an author, creator of
and more. She is the author of inspirational books like
You Sure? and
historical fiction such as
The Patriot Wore
Petticoats. She also helps people
earn money from
home using the phone and the Internet. For more
information on her projects, visit