Out of Control

by : Hal Runkel

Well, I hope your Father’s Day was as enjoyable as mine. Even though I preach that every day is Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day), I thoroughly enjoyed being spoiled by my family. I sat in my recliner and watched the US Open all day long. Watching sports of any kind has always been one of my favorite pastimes. It is the only true reality show there is, where no one is sure of the outcome until the contest is over. Even though last week’s NBA finals wasn’t much of a nail-biter, I still enjoyed what little drama it provided.

While watching one of the best ever, Tim Duncan, claim his place in history, I was struck by something about him: his class. He is in superb control of his body to be sure, but he is also in excellent control of his emotions. He is calm and composed even in the face of intense pressure, which unfortunately can’t be said for many professional players. Example? Bonzi Wells, a guard for the Houston Rockets, was once fined for making an obscene gesture…at a fan. When questioned later about the incident, he responded,

“If that fan was a little more professional, you know, I probably wouldn’t have had to do that."

OK, who’s getting paid to be there? Who’s supposed to be the professional? Please.

Of course, we can’t judge Bonzi too harshly. We’ve all been guilty of pinning our emotional responses on others. According to the Hebrew Bible, it all started back in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. After they ate the forbidden fruit, they started the blame game. Adam first blames Eve, and then blames God for creating Eve in the first place. Eve then blames the serpent. It’s no wonder one of their sons killed the other in a jealous, reactive rage; reactive, other-focused patterns don’t fall far from the tree.

Whatever you believe about the story, it demonstrates one solid truth — we’ve been blaming others from the very beginning.

It's a sign of maturity when you're able to take responsibility for your own actions. To own up to your mistakes without blaming your circumstances, other people, or your childhood — this is when you know you’re a grown-up. But that's only one step to bringing yourself “under control."

Learning to be “under control" means taking responsibility for your decisions before, during and after you make them. I am not saying you don’t ever make mistakes; this isn’t about trying to be flawless. This is recognizing that no one, not even your kids, can make you feel anything, think anything, or do anything. Period. Your children cannot push you over the edge, press your magic buttons, or bring you to the brink. They are simply not that powerful.

Your emotional responses are up to you. You always have a choice.