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The Lifestyle Centre

A Battle of Wills


by 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 this day.

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 it.

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 people.

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.


Written by: Marnie L. Pehrson,

Click here to view more articles by Marnie L. Pehrson.

Marnie Pehrson is an author, creator of www.IdeaMarketers.com, www.LocateACoach.com, www.SheLovesGod.com, and more. She is the author of inspirational books like Lord, Are 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 http://www.pwgroup.com or www.MarniePehrson.com


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