I’ve been thinking a lot recently about control. And where the control freak in us interferes with our quests for empowerment.
You see I’m reading Russel Brand’s Revolution (have you read it? I bloody love that man and the way his mind works!), and hearing him talk about his experiences of addiction has really made me think.
I doubt I’m alone in saying that I can be a bit of a control freak… Only sometimes though; as the great Lorelai Gilmore once said: “as long as everything goes exactly the way I want I’m completely flexible”…
Seriously though, thinking about it now that tendency towards control is something I’ve played out in the past with every single one of the areas I’ve struggled to claim power over.
Eating too much? OK, I’ll put myself on a super strict diet. Problematic drinking? I’ll go completely teetotal. And losing myself to totally inappropriate man? Then maybe it’s time to go completely celibate for a while? Allowing work to take over my life? Fine! Then I’ll work to rule or just walk away from my job entirely.
The problem with that mindset is that it’s impossible to control everything in life. Whether it be the weather, illness, the actions of another person, or the fact that you’re grasping on so tightly by the skin of your fingernails to one thing that something else slips through the net entirely, something will always pop up to surprise you. And then what?
So often when you keep yourself so tightly controlled and go all or nothing, there’s a danger of rebelling and going completely the opposite way when you fall down.
Because in today’s society where life is often so high pressure and we’re so often encouraged to be in complete control every minute of every day then how else are we expected to relax than by getting so drunk we can’t think, eating until we’re incapable of moving, going out on the full for a night of mindblowing sex or shopping until we’re so broke we can’t do anything else until payday?!
Last week I went to see the Hugging Saint Amma. If anyone’s ever been to see her you might have done, or even just heard of, her meditation for world peace. Midway through the meditation my rational brain kicked in and I realised that I couldn’t feel a single bit of tension, worry or fear at all.
I’m someone who meditates quite regularly, and I’ve had plenty of experiences of floating off entirely, but I’ve never in my life felt anything like this. So of course I totally doubted myself and mentally stepped out of the meditation to go searching. But as much as I wracked my body and mind I couldn’t find a single ounce of stress or tension anywhere inside me…I was completely and utterly filled with love. And so with that I consciously told the control freak within me to bugger off and surrendered myself back to the meditation.
Now, I’m not suggesting that each of us spend an hour each day meditation – it would be utterly lush, but the truth is that life doesn’t always allow for that.
What I am suggesting is that if we can all tell our inner control freaks to bugger off then it becomes much easier to immerse ourselves in the moment and actually enjoy life.
Sometimes reclaiming power over our lives means cutting things out – I can’t imagine Russell Brand would be quite as happy and healthy as he seems nowadays if heroin still had an active role in his life, and I’m pretty sure that if I’d stayed in an old job I’d be nowhere near as empowered and fulfilled as I feel today.
Sometimes though, it means allowing the things that previously stole your power to stay in your life, but trusting and empowering yourself enough to enough to make the choices and enjoy them in a balanced way.
Food, alcohol, sex, relationships and even work – all of those things can be enjoyable and fun as long as our relationship with them, and with ourselves, is healthy.
In reality we can only be truly empowered if we let go of control and trust ourselves to live the life that’s right for us without strict rules, must do’s and can’ts.
True empowerment over our lives and the things that threaten to rule it isn’t about those things, but about doing what fills you up and is right for you, all from a place of loving yourself.
That’s not to say you’ll never get so drunk you fall over, or find yourself lusting after someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart, but when you live your life from a place of empowerment and self respect it’s much easier to move forward without guilt or shame for something you’d rather not have done.
So just for now I’m inviting you to relax the rules you’ve set for yourself, tell your inner control freak to bugger off and trust yourself to live the life you want and deserve.