The Truth About Control

The truth about control is widely misunderstood. When fear or any of its tributaries like concern, worry, hurt, and judgment have us, we don’t often jump to “how can I get in there with these uncomfortable emotions and experience them in my body?”

Instead of doing what actually works, we unconsciously try to change others so we can feel more comfortable. Then we get angry and resentful when they do this with us.

When we try to change how others think, speak, and behave, we are making an unconscious attempt to feel a sense of safety we don’t otherwise know how to experience.  Others are doing the exact same with us, but we are much more likely to be aware of their “control issues” than our own.

We think our emotional discomfort is due to “them” and give our power away until someday, things get painful enough to explore the reasons we feel so victimized. No matter who the villain is in our current story, the roots of these uncomfortable feelings date back to childhood.

If we explore those roots through traditional methods like psychotherapy, we may get good at understanding some of the whys, but we can only actually change these patterns through our bodies, which are storing the unresolved emotions.

The Roots of Rebellion

The truth about control, and our misperceptions of such, came onto my mental radar while hiking waterfalls today.

I have a vivid childhood memory of scaring the bejesus out of my mom while standing too close to the edge of one. It was rather symbolic of our relationship as I never stopped being an adventurer and she never stopped worrying about me.

My mom was never exposed to the emotional education I have been blessed with and did not know how to do anything else with her fear than allow it to control her – and therefore control me, when I was young enough for that option.

When I hit my teens, the more my mom worried and attempted to stop me from being me, the more rejected and stifled I felt, and the more I rebelled. I didn’t understand projection or our personality and communication differences, let alone the dynamics that were playing out. I had no other way to perceive her fears and the various ways she expressed them than as attempts to control me. I had the spirit of a wild stallion so that didn’t go very well for either of us.

I internalized her criticisms, which were about her relationship with herself, not me, but nevertheless wrecked my self-esteem for many years. I missed the countless ways she showed me she loved me and believed in me.

When I was in high school, no one could have predicted that my mom would one day be my closest ally, least of all me. I appreciated her efforts to keep me alive much more as I got older, when I was better able of viewing her concern as a form of love, and not control. We were one another’s greatest teachers in so many ways and when we learned to embrace out differences, a beautiful friendship emerged.

I learned the truth about control, and how to be me, despite what someone else wanted me to be for their own sense of security. I became the me that I wouldn’t be if she hadn’t been my mom, and I hadn’t so desperately strived for her approval and validation. She could not grant me either, because she couldn’t give them to herself.  The only person who can give us the approval and validation we crave, and permission to be unapologetically ourselves is us!

We didn’t learn this – or other important life navigation concepts that every human would benefit from – in school, because we were too busy memorizing information that only future historians and mathematicians would need. (Or, like me, we figured out early that we’d get a better education from life and cut school regularly to explore New York City.)

As a result, we may to this very day remember battle dates we learned in elementary school, but don’t know how to embody our emotions or express them without blame and hostility.

Most people don’t even realize they are at war with themselves, not others. If they do understand, they’re not at all sure how to bring about a ceasefire.

Thanks Mom! (And Dad!)

I’m extremely grateful my mom and dad gave me, among countless other blessings, an intense desire to cultivate a more loving relationship with myself. I wouldn’t have learned that any other way than to have first struggled with it! If I hadn’t endured such a harsh relationship with myself for so long, I wouldn’t now be teaching readers and coaching clients how be in harmony with themselves, others, and their pasts, right here in the now that we live in.

I think of my mom, and feel her love, every time I wander too close to the edge of a waterfall – or anything else I can’t resist exploring. Since she is enjoying life after life without her personality’s sense of chronic concern, I can usually imagine her smiling and cheering me on. She frequently sends an abundance of clear signs that she’s with me, and I am always incredibly grateful to receive them.
Today, as I meandered closer toward a waterfall on a path that was wild and slippery after several days of rain, I felt a rare sense of “no.” It was just before Mother’s Day, and I knew my mom was urging me to turn around. I listened.

Because I turned around when I did, I met five delightful people, two groups which had recently crossed paths. These instant friends invited me into their beautiful conversation about nature, blue zones, healthy eating and living, and not living so habitually on technology. One of them, who recently graduated college, was the only one in his school without a laptop. He wrote an entire movie script by hand! His sister is a musician. I can’t wait to experience their crafts because present people create magic.

We marveled at how most people don’t pause their hikes to connect with “strangers.” If we were most people, we wouldn’t now be friends.
As much as I have loved blogging and posting about the retreat and engaging in other creative projects this week, I am so glad I opted to get out in nature and live in the glorious moment today.
Thanks for all the nudges today, Mom! I miss and love you being here in the physical beyond words, but I deeply appreciate you letting me know so regularly that you’re with me in presence and love.

Happy Mother’s Day to you and all the loving mama bears out there, as well as those who are celebrating and/or missing their moms. If you fall into that last category, place your hands over your heart, take a deep breath into your belly and allow yourself to feel her love. ????Previous post: Dr. Sue Morter’s Retreat (Part One) ~ LOVE WITHOUT TRAFFIC