The Hidden Power You (May) Get From Toothpaste

Control: v. to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command.

Who wouldn’t want that?  Who doesn’t dream, fantasize and pray to the right G-ds to have it?  And, who, more importantly, can claim to have it?

I had a discussion today with my therapist during which I cited the many areas in my life over which I felt I had either lost (or, more to the point, never had) control over.  Some are obvious; see: transgender child in the house, while others are less so: what lays ahead for 2013 insofar as said transgender child is concerned (among other things).  As therapists so artfully do, she gently turned things around and suggested that I take note of the many things that I do, in fact, have (at least a semblance of) control over.  In what felt like a moment of desperation, she reminded me that my freedom of choice over what toothpaste I use (Colgate) is an example of one of the many things I (and you, too) take for granted as being within our control.


Her digging so low in the barrel as to be espousing the importance of having a choice in the dental care sector, did, I admit, hit me with a nanosecond of credibility-doubting and a sinking feeling of being utterly pathetic.  But then, with my confidence in her abilities as a therapist firmly implanted, I started to really think about it.  I live in the town that I want to, have (mostly) wonderful people in my life and can choose to go days on end without washing my hair if I so desire.  I have domination over my reading list and television viewing.  In fact, with “On Demand”, I can go so far as to control not only if, but when I watch my beloved Housewives which, in actuality, is another something over which I have control: an inane, escapist choice, but one over which I have complete and total control.  For every silly novel I devour, I exercise the decision to read something that I am not ashamed to be seen carrying around.  (Example: “Fifty Shades of Grey” followed by “May We Be Forgiven” or “Bossy Pants” with an “Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me” chaser– oh, wait, those are both silly!)  Bingo!  My choice, my control!  This is easier than I thought.

I have control over what I eat.  The fact that I sometimes opt for the ice cream as opposed to the apple is, in reality, something I actually have control over.  So, too is my wearing the slightly snug jeans versus the ones that are one size larger and infinitely more comfortable.  Or sleeping-in instead of hitting the gym.  And don’t forget paying cash or using a credit card.  All in my control. (Note: control does not necessarily equal a good choice, rather, as noted above, it shows a “direction over”…which direction we choose is entirely up to us.  Thus, control!)

I feel a little bit better now but when I first left her office I was quite sure that the only thing I would ever come up with over which I had control was the damned toothpaste and that, I will admit, depressed the shit out of me.  I am happy to report that, while I still have scads of doings in my world over which I feel a complete control-void, there are actually many things over which I do, indeed have control.  Not sure I can claim total domination (as is deemed necessary in the definition), but at least it is not quite as dire as I thought.

Stop and take a look at even the most miniscule tidbits over which you have control and maybe you, too, will feel a little better.

15 thoughts on “The Hidden Power You (May) Get From Toothpaste

  1. Thank you Julie for this post. Over the last week, some devastating events.. overwhich I had absolutely no control at all… have taken place. This made me stop and realize that I do have control over many other factors in my life. This will make my grieving process over the loss of a dear family member much easier. Thank you.

  2. Even though I don’t see myself as such, I have on occasion been called a control-freak. OK, more than “on occasion” but that’s beside the point. Now, with so many things in my life out of my hands, I’ll be sure to use this technique.

  3. Ask your therapist what you should do if you can’t exactly celebrate controlling the small stuff in your life when the stuff that you can’t control is overwhelmingly more significant than the small stuff. Tell her Debby Downer wants to know.

  4. Mmmm, apple pie AND ice cream for me. In fact, I choose to live my whole life a la mode. I’m not known as “Chili con Connie” for nothing. 😉 I will admit, however, that my lack of self control over the pie and ice cream has made those size-larger jeans to be the snug ones these days.

  5. Ohhh I’ve had numerous angst filled days over the lack of control I have over some of the choices of my soon to be 18 year old daughter. But I’m reminded of the limits I can create, and the help (therapist) I can provide (not force her to participate in), and the framework of expectations we, her parents, can devise in order for us to send her to college. The rest, as they say, is up to her. She’s not a bad girl, far from it…..but some of her teenaged choices have been scary. One thing I know that is implanted in our parental genes is the anxiety-filled one that goes from 0-120 in 30 seconds flat, imagining the worst with each poor choice made. It’s helpful to realize that natural consequences are a good thing (both good and bad) and what exactly I have control over….the rest is up to her and God.

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