The illusion of control
Day 333/366 days Towards Self-Mastery.
The idea of being able to control anything has been the subject of my curiosity for some time, a long time.
There was plenty of controls in my experience, most of which were imposed by parents and teachers, and all manner of authority figures.
And with it came an underlying feeling that I wasn't trusted.
For a long time I anguished over not being trusted. What did I have to do to prove myself? What have I done or could I possibly do that brought so much distrust?
It shaped my young life and left me bereft. Yearning for someone to see that I was both honest and trustworthy. a yearning that was never satisfied.
And in the meantime the feeling of being unsupported crept into my psyche. If I wasn't trusted, there was no one who was going to offer me support when I needed it most, was the logic that formed in my mind. And it became a self-fulling prophecy.
Decades later I began to look more closely at control. I realised that control seemed to be associated with fear. Fear of nothing in particular and everything in general. I noticed this idea of fear and control in others and in myself.
There were rules for everything. That's how control works. My way of the highway when you have authority, and living within the narrow confines of those rules, when you don't.
Feeling unsupported lead to feeling fearful of the world around me. I knew I would be safe if I could control my immediate surroundings, and I was. The problem eventuated that those immediate surroundings became smaller and smaller, and closer to home. I found myself in control and isolated from the world.
So in effect I was in control of very little. The world went on without me.
The habit of control has seeped into every bone in my body. Just last evening I had yet another breakthrough moment of realisation as I came to understand how much I shielded myself from digesting the life that came my way. Isolation is a marvellous way of controlling my contact with life.
Road rage was directed at me by a busy and no doubt harried mother. Frustration was delivered in an annoyed voice by an irritable accountant. These incidences stayed with me for way too long. Why? I wasn't digesting them and letting them go.
My mediation took me there last evening. My body showed me where I hide from the world. How I stop myself from meeting and digesting life. What I need to do to open to life and let it in, trusting myself to exercise the discernment to know what's right for me and what belongs to someone else.
And here I am.
Control is an illusion. An illusion we buy into when we feel fearful and unsupported. Many of our stories and adaptations to those stories form when we are very young. During the course of our life those adaptations become habits and habits put themselves on auto-run. We don't realise what we're doing so we don't realise we are painting ourselves into a corner.
Later in life we find ourselves isolated and alone with a very small group of connections, too many rules, and no one to turn to when the chips are down.
We're capable and resourceful and can manage alone. And that is how we end up.
We've managed to manage without the help of others and for this reason we're often the most reluctant to seek therapy. We learned not to trust anyone so why would we trust a stranger, a therapist.
It's not all bad. Alone can be very productive and enjoyable. And we may have to be okay with growing older and more needy and rely on the system to support us. It's doable. It works.
And it's not necessary. We don't know how we got there and we don't know how to change it. We might even think it's too late to change.
Let me reassure you that it's never too late. It's possible to discover insights that encourage you to look differently at the world. Insights that can change your experience in a heart beat.
Get yourself to therapy. Be open to learn something new. Find a therapist that understands attachment issues and relational misattunement in childhood. Someone you can relate to and learn to trust in time.
Know that you can overcome the feeling that you need to control things around you. Get to the bottom of your fears that drive that impulse to control, fears that you've forgotten from childhood but they haven't forgotten you. Know that other choices are available to you than to isolate, and learn how to feel supported.
366 days Towards Self-Mastery
When I considered my New Year's intentions for 2020 I had just one: To allow my heart to love what it loved...and let it lead me. (If not now, then when?)
I've spent months working on integrating my life. To live life more fully with my home life, my interests, my work, my responsibilities, all coming together, all connected. I want to give each the attention that they desire and need, and still have time and energy for the others. That means living and working from the heart.
As I was clearing out my bookshelf over the Christmas break I discovered Simple Abundance. I set it aside to explore it on New Year's Day as I lazed through another delicious day of nothingness. Sarah, the author, says this book is about living in grace. Living in grace I realised, is about Self-Mastery.
My thirst for understanding the human condition has driven me all my life, and hand-in-hand with self-mastery it has been a life-long goal. And seeing as I love to write, that living in grace is about self-mastery, and I love a bit of a challenge, then if I am truly going to let my heart lead, I really don't have any other choice. So scary as it feels, I'm starting out on a daily mission of leaning into the suggestions of this daybook and making a daily post to keep me accountable. If not now, then when?
I'm Josie. You can find out a little more about me here.
Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy: by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
This book is written for the Australian and NZ market because it refers to seasonal changes. It's available on Amazon here if you'd like to follow along.