Stop The Need To Control Before It Starts


I have a slightly sarcastic teenager living in my house and I use the term slightly, sarcastically.
He goes through phases of embracing different words and phrases that he and his friends consider
to be funny. A few months back, it was Y.P. and M.P.

For example, if I said to him, “Yo there is laundry in the dryer,” his response could be “Nice, that sounds like you have a Y.P. not an M.P.”

The roller-coaster ride through teenagedom is an interesting one that at times will leave you alone in your bathroom questioning your own mental-wellness. Other times you will laugh to yourself the more that you realize how much they reflect your own personality.

In case you are wondering, a Y.P. is a You-Problem and an M.P. is a Me-Problem.

While I am thankful our son and his friends have moved on to bigger, better, and more trendy sarcastic phrases and comments, I actually still use this one. (Because sadly you guys, sometimes I subconsciously internalize the catchy phrases and annoying words he brings home and actually use some of it in my daily life).

This is just such a simple & quick approach to establishing personal responsibly and boundaries. (My son would say, “Wow Mom, way to take something cool and make it Hippy”. But it’s what I do.

So it is not in my nature to look at a homeless person and say something like, “Well, that’s their problem,” (On the contrary, I am actually the kind of person who stops and digs in my mini-van for items to give away, as I resist loading them up in my van and taking them home with me to care for and help and rescue) I just appreciate the simplicity of this Y.P, M.P approach.

For instance, if someone flips me off on the highway. That’s definitely a YP.
When people honk at me the second a light turns green and I am not even on my phone. YP
If my son is pissed at me for enforcing consequences clearly defined in my mom-handbook. YP
If someone says something hurtful about me or my blog or my book. YP
If I lose my patience with my husband during a stressful moment that isn’t actually his fault. MP
When I over think about things that aren’t in my control. MP

In certain instances this is a brilliant approach, especially for an over-analytic personality like the one I own. It is important for me to quickly identify what I can and cannot control before I dive into my other treasure box of tools that don’t actually work or aid in leading a productive, peaceful life.

So last night when I scrolled past this quote on Pinterest (as I was wasting perfectly good sleeping time that I regretted this morning) I immediately felt like I needed the reminder: “People at war with themselves will always cause collateral damage in the lives of those around them.”
-John Mark Green (Y.P.)

Sometimes I don’t need a meeting or a long lecture or an in-depth therapy session to get back on track. Maybe I have only tip-toed a few inches off of my own path, and in these cases, something as simple as a short quote is all I need to shift my mind back into a healthy, realistic, place.

I  can let myself get so wrapped up in my own head trying to find answers to questions that are rhetorical. (It’s almost like my brain assumes we have excess daylight hours or something). There simply aren’t any answers or logical conclusions to come to when it comes to the actions or opinions of other people. That is how worry and trying to control the uncontrollable work. You forget that there isn’t actually a bottom. There isn’t an end in sight. Emotional digging is all rooted in the same, unending cycles that turn into a special kind of insanity.  I have to remind myself of this specifically when people lash out with an intention of hurting me or pushing me down to the ground.

It’s a Y.P not an M.P.

In general, lashing out is reactive, not responsive. When we react it is usually connected to fear, pain, lack of control, anger, or other things we don’t understand or know what to do with, whether we’re willing to admit it or not. Responding is typically more organized, well-thought out, and has a gentler delivery.  This supports that theory that our outward actions reflect our inward state.

People who are hurting, hurt other people. I know this all too well-being a person who used to walk around with gaping, seeping, infected wounds, physically and verbally harming those who dared get too close to me. If I am being honest, I never really even needed a reason. I would hurt people without warning or a cause. I used to lash out and hurt people regularly, for purposeful, pointed, and spiteful reasons.  I didn’t know how to face or process or cope with my own pain. The same was true if I was faced with any emotion that I couldn’t identify or that I didn’t want to feel. Lashing out and causing others pain helped me to evade my own thoughts and avoid hard things. I’d be lying if I said after ten years of recovery I have perfected this and I never react; but what I am really great at is turning around and admitting that I fucked up. My reactive or explosive outbursts are far and few between, mostly because the twelve steps taught me that processing my feelings, even the ones I don’t like or quite understand, is far easier than having to make amends and clean up messes I cannot fix.

So while I definitely empathize with people who are still in pain, who are still hurting, who still lash out or gossip or damage people with actions or words, I have learned that separating myself  eradicates me from trying to control things that I cannot.  I don’t need to react. I am not under any obligation to explain myself. I don’t have to clean up messes that I didn’t make.

That is what YP’s and MP’s are all about.


Tell me how you're feeling.

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