Control is an illusion. It doesn’t work. We cannot control alcoholism. We cannot control anyone’s compulsive behaviors — overeating, sexual, gambling — or any of their behaviors. We cannot (and have no business trying to) control anyone’s emotions, mind, or choices. We cannot control the outcome of events. We cannot control life. Some of us can barely control ourselves.
People ultimately do what they want to do. They feel how they want to feel (or how they are feeling); they think what they want to think; they do the things they believe they need to do; and they will change only when they are ready to change. It doesn’t matter if they’re wrong and we’re right. It doesn’t matter if they’re hurting themselves. It doesn’t matter that we could help them if they’d only listen to, and cooperate with, us. It doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter.
The problem was, I didn’t know that then. I thought controlling and taking care of other people was my duty, my God-given job. My motto from then on became “Do for others what they refuse to , but should, be doing for themselves.” If other people don’t want to be responsible I’ll pick up that slack.
— Melody Beattie, Playing It By Heart, p. 148