Most of us have more control over our own lives than we sometimes want. I mean, don’t you sometimes feel like saying, “Here, you make these decisions for me. I’ve got enough on my plate”?
But sometimes we have very little control. And in those situations, we will find something – just one thing, anything – we can control. This first hit me years ago when our office moved to a new building. The girl I worked with (there were just the two of us in that office) was senior to me, so she made all the decisions. About everything. I got the bad desk, but the chair at that desk was really comfortable. So, I said, “Does that mean I get this chair?” She said she hadn’t make any decision about that yet.
I was screamingly frustrated and I remember thinking, “Doesn’t she realize everyone has to be in control of something?!” It actually sprang into my mind fully articulated like that. Or so my memory tells me.
Then, about 15 years after that, I had meningitis and was in the hospital for 10 days. The hospital is a place where you have almost no control of your life. In a way, it was a bit of a vacation. I didn’t have to do anything. I had no responsibilities. I had no deadlines. Everyone knew where I was, so nobody expected anything of me.
But after a few days, I was desperate to have some control. There was only one thing I could think of: I had at least one small green salad a day and I asked a friend to bring me a bottle of salad dressing. What the hospital provided was fine, but for some reason, I just wanted my own bottle of salad dressing. I didn’t realize at the time it was my need to be in control of something. But I did relish that control every time I poured it on my salad.
It’s part of our hard-wiring. We need to feel like we have some say in our lives. It’s got to be rough on people who never have that.