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She tried to micromanage the world. By letting go and doing less, she realized she could actually be more.
About a year and a half ago, I realized I was about to hit a wall. My husband, Will Smith, and I were going through a major transition—besides acting, directing, writing, and producing, we'd started the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation to support urban families through education, health, and arts programs. At the same time, I was trying to keep my family life healthy and strong and take care of our kids, Trey, 16; Jaden, 10; and Willow, 8. I've always been a caretaker; I think a lot of women are. We take care of everybody else first, and very rarely do we think about ourselves.
I grew up in a neighborhood in Baltimore that was like a war zone, so I never learned to trust that there were people who could help me. I was also stuck in the idea that taking care of others was the way to create good relationships. As a result, I tried to micromanage my world.
One day I was so overwhelmed I thought I might be crushed under the weight of all the responsibilities I'd taken on. I pray and meditate every day, and when I started meditating that morning, I felt that God was telling me, Surrender or explode. All of a sudden, I was released. The stress was gone, and in that stillness came the solution: The less I do, the better things will go.
But it's one thing to have an idea and another to grasp it. Okay, so I realized that by doing less, I can be more. But what did that mean? And how could I apply that to my life? I started with my family. It's not just about being with them; it's about being present while I'm with them. That area had been slipping a bit, but on this day I focused on my kids. I turned off my BlackBerry and didn't take a single call or check my e-mail. You know how you feel as though if you stop, the whole world will fall apart? Well, it didn't. For a while, everybody was like, "Where's Jada? We've got to get this answer! This needs to happen now!" But it all went fine without me.
So the next thing I did was trust that the people we'd hired could do their jobs. When I was trying to control them, they felt suffocated and invalidated. When I let go, they felt empowered, which created an atmosphere of harmony, and there was peace within the everyday chaos. I learned that surrounding myself with people who are able to help me is like being surrounded by tangible godliness.
Since then, it's been a year of bliss. I don't have to go around trying to save everybody anymore; that's not my job. I took off the Control Freak crown, and now my headaches are over. That tiara may have been pretty, but it was just too damn tight.
— As told to Suzan Colón
From the June 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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