We have to learn to stop trying to control things that we cannot change.
Trying to control something you can’t change leaves you destined for failure. You get your heart set on changing something that you have no power to change, and so you’re always left feeling frustrated and let down.
Try pushing on a door that will only open by pulling. I mean really pushing. Your muscles get tired, you get angry and discouraged, and you never get to leave the room you’re in. This is how we are affected by not knowing the limits of control.
Do you ever watch the Dog Whisperer? When a dog is confused over who the pack leader is, he vies for pack leadership. He is more anxious, he misbehaves more, and he is less happy. When the dog owner learns to be the pack leader, the dog learns its place. Rather than this leaving the dog feeling broken and sad, the dog actually becomes happier, less anxious, and better behaved. All because he finally realized that he was not in charge, that he was not the one in control.
Similarly, when we learn to stop trying to manage things we cannot control (like other people), we become calmer, less anxious, and happier dogs, er, I mean people. Instead of trying to get others to change their minds or actions, we are free to communicate ourselves the best we can, listen to them as best we can, and then act in ways consistent with our values and in ways that are healthier for us and them.