Letting go of control issues can become so overwhelming and stressful that many of us find it debilitating, and when we are deep in it there are many times where we feel shame, anxiety, worry and depression over what feels like an uncontrollable need to control. Here is how I really took an honest look at my challenges with control issues and the tools that have worked for me in my own healing.
“Do you Really Think you Are The One Controlling This - Relax”
My Soul to My Personality multiple times a week if not several times daily.
Being a Virgo with 5 planets in Virgo it is no surprise when I tell you that I am a recovering control addict, perhaps you are too, or are hoping you can state this about yourself soon. If you are, well done! At least you are honest enough with yourself to see this as something holding you back from living your life in full joy. With perhaps a few tears, hopefully, a bit of laughter and a lot of breathing, once you are through this article you will have some solid pieces to allow you to relax into letting go of control issues permanently.
Some key indicators that you are challenged with control issues:
- Everything must be perfect or at least appear that you are keeping up with your friends and neighbors. In America, we call this “keeping up with the Joneses”.
- Making sure that when interacting with the people in your life they are always happy with you and think you’re awesome.
- Needing to control situations and ways of interacting with others to make sure things run your way so that you are comfortable.
- Being so attached to a specific outcome, whether it is for yourself or others, that you have convinced yourself you know best, therefore trying to force your way of doing and thinking about things on those around you.
- Feeling completely comfortable doing or saying things to other people that you find unacceptable when others treat you in the same manner.
Why we create control issues:
As with many traits, we don’t want to be associated with, control is based in fear. There are two other components that play into control issues as well; feeling unworthy and a lack of trust. And as almost all of our issues start, the need to try to control is formed as a result of early childhood trauma. Notice I used the word “try”, once again follow the quote of my soul, “Do you Really Think you Are The One Controlling This - Relax”, and you’ll get it and I’ll highlight the word try several times to remind you of that golden nugget of wisdom. Often, control issues are created when we had parents who were not around either physically or emotionally. Or, perhaps when having to take on the role of parent for yourself and/or your siblings if not your parents themselves. Another common one is if you felt your home was not a safe or stable environment. When we experience emotional or physical instability and a lack of choices or autonomy, this can lead us to seek control over aspects of life and others. And when we can’t control things this leads us to worry or anxiety, to feelings of frustration and anger, both of which can create high blood pressure and depression.
Starting the process to heal – finding out the why behind the control issue:
Start to truly notice when your control stuff comes up so you can identify the self-protective nature based on the need to control. This begins the process of unraveling your pain, the underlying fear, emotions, or anxieties that arise when you are triggered. If you can, do this when it is arising or immediately afterward, so you can identify your trigger. These are some questions to ask yourself in this process (remember to be compassionate and honest with yourself):
- Why am I triggered or why did I get triggered? (ask yourself this free from blame or shame - simply from curiosity)
- When was the first time that I noticed this feeling present itself to me from my earliest memories and how did I cope with it at that time?
- What about this situation feels similar to when I was a child?
Once you are able to identify when/where in your life this was created ½ the battle of control is over. Then you bring yourself into the present moment and go deeper into your self-inquiry:
- Am I looking at the whole picture?
- Am I reacting from expecting the worst from a situation?
- What am I afraid will happen if I let go of control?
- Am I really ready to let go of control?
- Would letting go feel better than this?
- What will I gain if I let go?
I still use these when something comes up for me, and there was another piece that I did for myself that was also really powerful. I sat down and wrote out where, how and why I was holding on so tightly to trying to control things. How was I using control - through manipulation, force, disassociating, etc? And then with great compassion and honesty, I looked at what I felt was the biggest piece around my control issues which was - what is this really costing me? And how was this affecting everyone I interacted with? What was I teaching my children?
Understanding what control issues do to you energetically and emotionally:
For me, the above practices were a game changer. It was costing me my peace, my love, my connection with others, my health with the physical and energetic tightness and stress that arose with the control issues, my ability to be fully authentic and joyful was gone. At this point, I realized the price I was paying to try to be in control was a price I was unwilling to pay.
Having to “be” in control would cause me so much stress and then anger if I didn’t get my way, that when I chose to really look at what I created in this, I could actually feel me stopping the flow of energy in my body and refusing the flow of connection to what my soul and the Earth were providing me. I literally was choosing to stay in a triggered moment’s energy of tension and resistance instead of relaxing and flowing with the next now moment. When we choose this, the energy stagnates within us like sitting in a smelly algae filled murky pond. I was choosing this over the clear flowing light of acceptance. When my control issues would rise up I was actually unable to see the full picture where my inner Scrooge comes out. This, by the way, is what control issues look like to me in the energy field – essentially a little gnome for each little pattern we are addicted to. So many, not so useful patterns that look like gnomes in our energy field. I often think that once we are all able to see these gnomes, the game is up and we’ll all be too embarrassed to keep feeding them. We will see, it’s not too far off.
Being Responsible versus Controlling:
Being responsible means a person who can be trusted to act without needing strict supervision. It also means developing our potential. Controlling is, having the power to control how something is managed or done and/or having a need to control other people’s behavior.
When we are being responsible we are happier, we are taking action, we know we can be trusted and we are developing ourselves. However, when we suffer from control issues, attempting to inappropriately control events usually brings everyone unhappiness. When we are choosing to be responsible, this is action from a place of relaxation which helps establish security and happiness. The usual result of control issues is often noted by therapists treating people suffering from addiction, depression and serious anger problems.
“The most important question you can ever ask is if the universe is a friendly place.”
It’s this simple, what you are looking for you will find all around you. You just purchased a new orange car, you’ll notice that everyone seems to be driving one. You get pregnant there seem to be pregnant women everywhere. Why? because if you are focusing intently on something you will create it everywhere. This is where Albert Einstein’s statement flows in so beautifully.
With control issues we are looking for things to go wrong, we are not able to trust.
So, to heal this we must step into shifting the neural pathways in our mind that believe we can’t trust. Remember belief has the word lie in it and all you are left with is bf – your ego’s best friend. For this teaching, we look at faith and belief as two different things. One of the best teachings I learned was that a truth is a truth until it hits a belief system that can override it. So if you believe that you have to do everything in order for “it” to be done right, then that is what you create. You create a world or a universe that can’t be trusted, you create a universe that isn’t your friend. This is where I think reading what Einstein stated is so very important. When he was asked what he meant when he made that statement, he replied:
“For if we decide that the universe is an unfriendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries, and our natural resources to achieve safety and power by creating bigger walls to keep out the unfriendliness and bigger weapons to destroy all that which is unfriendly and I believe that we are getting to a place where technology is powerful enough that we may either completely isolate or destroy ourselves as well in this process.
If we decide that the universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly and that God is essentially ‘playing dice with the universe’, then we are simply victims to the random toss of the dice and our lives have no real purpose or meaning.
But if we decide that the universe is a friendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries, and our natural resources to create tools and models for understanding that universe. Because power and safety will come through understanding its workings and its motives.”
"I choose to focus on a friendly universe. Which means that in order to participate in this friendly universe I have to relax enough, trust enough and breathe deeply, fully and slowly enough to allow my focus, my brain, my whole being the juiciness of this experience of a friendly universe."
The power of surrender:
There is a grace and a majestic power to the energy of surrender. I used to hate that word. It meant that I was weak, that I had lost. Yet, in reality, surrender literally means to stop fighting. It was all my projections around the lack of trust and need to control that wouldn’t allow me to see the absolute joy that surrender offers. From a place of surrender, I am calm and peaceful and fully present. My body is relaxed, yet engaged and I am breathing consciously and deeply. I can take action from a place of using my full peripheral senses instead of a very narrow and dimly lit form of tunnel vision.
In a state of surrender, the universe is friendly; I don’t have to try to control anything. I liberate myself from having to have any particular outcome, not that I don’t take action or care about what I am doing, I do, yet I’m relaxed around what the results will be and delighted to learn the lessons around these. Because there is so much more to this experience than just my perspective, I chose to trust, to have faith, to allow things to be taken care of in ways I would never have expected, to saying yes to my soul and watch the unfolding process created for me by the universe. Surrendering is liberation, it is letting go, it is freedom from the tumultuous experience of control issues and the sweetness of being able to trust again.
I often think of the story about the way that they hunt monkeys in Asia, where they will put food in a jar that is just big enough for their hand to fit in, yet not big enough for them to take out with the food in their hand. And even though the monkey can see their captor coming to them, they are so fixed on forcing the situation to go their way they won’t let go, they won’t stop fighting to get the food and in this process lose their freedom.
Eastern philosophy to help to let go of control – another way of looking at surrender:
In Buddhism, there is a primary teaching focused on accepting things as they are and shifting your attention to the present moment. This comes from understanding that there are greater powers at work in nature and the universe around you. This is taught in the second noble truth of Buddhism which states, “Desire is the root of all suffering”. It means when you want things to be different than they are, or that you are deeply attached to only feeling things that are pleasant and avoid any negative feelings, when you try to control life excluding everything you don’t like, then suffering occurs. They teach that the way to happiness is through non-attachment, letting go of expectations, being in the present, freeing yourself of judgments, and simply accepting life as it presents itself. Should be super easy, right? Lol! Breath, relax, as they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Just notice how you are behaving situation to situation, allow yourself to let go by simply reminding yourself gently that the present is what it is, that everything doesn't have to conform to your desires, to allow everyone to have their experience and this will truly bring more joy, peace, and happiness into your life.
Brook’s Offering - a simple practice in surrender:
When you are challenged with your control issues coming up and you have already identified what your trigger is and have done your work around it, it should be a much smaller reaction around the control piece and then you can use this exercise:
See yourself in a forest surrounded by trees. It is so dark and so dense that you feel completely contracted; there is no room to move. Now take a deep slow breath and exhale out. And now with every deep breath see more light coming into the forest and with every relaxed exhalation see that there is more space around your body until a clear and beautiful path is formed in front of you. And when you are ready, allow your body to move out of the forest down the path the universe created for you and leave all of that tension and control behind you.
Sending you all so much love and deep adoration of your devotion to loving yourself and trusting yourself enough to finally let go of control issues. You are so worth it!
For those of you who are ready to delve deep and heal core patterns and pain in a powerful and deeply compassionate way. We offer a retreat called Clearing the Core. Our next retreat is offered in February 2018. Click on the banner to learn more about Clearing the Core and to register if you feel called. I look forward to the opportunity to be of service to all who are ready for this remarkable work!