When was the last time you danced freely, without having to have had a few drinks first?
When was the last time you let the house get messy because you were having so much fun playing with your kids?
When was the last time you let go… of trying to control everything?
… And what would it take to convince you that no matter how much you try, you cannot control everything in your life?
This is the cause of much mental and emotional anguish for many people; it was, by far, the biggest hurdle that I have had to overcome. I still work on it every time I notice the familiar sensation arising – the one that feels kind of like I am on a sinking boat, desperately trying to pail water out; my eyes darting all around in search of land, yet there’s nothing but water. You know that one?
Often this kind of personality trait is past from parent to child, as it was in my case; a combination of epigenetics and nurture. A part of our blue print, which we refer to when a decision needs to be made (every single decision). We do this unconsciously; habitually, sorting through the archives of our history to try to navigate any given situation. It happens autonomously for the majority of people although, it is possible to change this process.
We can become aware of how we are making decisions rather than blindly accepting what our conscious brain tells us. For example, now, when I become annoyed about a person’s behaviour, I try to interrupt the usual process of my unconscious mind retrieving information from my blueprint to give me a reason to express anger (generally with my usual level of snide). Firstly I ask myself why I am annoyed by the behaviour, which then allows me to explore where that reaction of feeling annoyed has come from. I also ask myself what reason they might have for doing that particular behaviour, which helps me to empathise with them and if necessary show compassion (or at the very least, not make any unnecessary remarks). By going through this process, I have been able to change the need for control that once burdened me.
I must admit, there is no way I would have made it to this point without experiencing situations in which I was forced to surrender – like child birth and raising babies. A little while ago I told my yoga teacher that I don’t think I would have developed such a disciplined practice if it weren’t for my children, which seemed like a strange thing to say; however, to cultivate a disciplined yoga practice, one must be able to surrender entirely (a control freak does NOT know how to do that). It took a significant amount of discomfort to achieve the state I find myself in currently and I would do it all over again if I knew this would be the result. I have literally gone from wanting to top myself to having a deep appreciation for everything in my life, which would not have happened if I hadn’t learned how to let go of the need to be in control (an ongoing process). Although, had I encountered these tough situations without my yoga training I would not have made it to this point either. It was a combination of trials and mindful meditation that reshaped me… and continues to in every moment.
The desire to have control ultimately controls you. It is impossible to be content when there is always something to be in control of, especially when most of which you are trying to control is probably unable to be controlled (that sounds as absurd as it actually is). In learning to surrender you can find happiness. It may be hard to believe now, but the world won’t fall apart if you stop trying to hold it all together… so, put on your favourite song and dance uninhibited (even if you dance like Elaine). Allow the kids to dress themselves, no matter how ridiculous the outfit may look. Let the house get messy so you can build a giant city out of blocks and train tracks. Let your loved one choose their own path, even if you think you can see their future. Let go of the notion that you can change the world around you by force because it simply doesn’t work that way.
I could easily be headed down the path of being a giant pain in the backside to the people around me, but I do the work. I explore the corners of my consciousness for the reasons why I act the way I do and figure out whether it is serving me or not. I don’t have to follow the life my blueprint has set out for me because it was proving to be a shitty map, and THAT is the best thing about being a human being – we get to choose how we react.
Now… I am aware that I still have a lot of work to do as it’s a never ending process to become enlightened, which is unlikely to occur in this life time. In saying that, I am falling in love with myself more everyday because everyday I am a better version of me. Become the person you would want to spend all of your time with and then you won’t have to control what everyone else is doing because you won’t care.