“We are conditioned to look out in the world for the source of our fulfillment. And when things don’t go the way we want, we try to find someone or something to blame. Attempting to control is trying to make life work. But life already works. Placing the blame outside ourselves is a misguided attempt to regain a sense of control. The fact is, we never were in control. We never had any control to lose. We don’t have control over anything outside ourselves. Life is always happening according to its rules, not ours. When we move into full cooperation with life, it can appear that we’re in control, but in reality, we are simply in a harmonious flow with life.” – John-Roger with Paul Kaye
This quote has been on my mind for a few weeks. As someone who considers myself to be a type-A personality, I can readily admit that I like to be in control. I like to know everything going on around me, not because I want to be in charge, but because I’ll know how to operate then. (But really, I like to be in charge too. It’s just not the main motivation.) If I know how you feel about me, I know how to be around you. If I know where we’re going, I’ll make sure we get there safely. If someone is bothering you, I’ll protect you like a mother bear or just be there to help you devise a plan for how to handle the situation. If you don’t take my advice, I’ll be disappointed, but I won’t hold it against you. (Unless I’m adrenalized from protecting you like a bear,then look out!)
Life is full of games. Power struggles at work and/or in love are exactly what Hollywood is built on. If my agenda is to focus on myself and I have the power ball, then I’m going to hoard that ball. I can either throw it against a wall and catch it, or whack it with a racquet. That works for awhile, but the problem is if I don’t have anyone to throw the ball to, it gets boring. I can call out for people to play with me, and they will for a little while. But once they know I have an agenda–to win and keep the ball for myself–the only people who will hang around me will be people with a similar agenda. And I’ll know it, so I won’t really trust them. It’s the reason the cliche exists “It’s always lonely at the top.” I could make excuses for their behavior, but really I’m only making excuses for my own poor behavior.
Now some of that may seem a bit abstract, which brings me to another layer of control. My need to control what I will and will not reveal about myself. I find this level of control to be the one drowning me out at this particular moment. The veil of transparency isn’t very gauzy. For example, I don’t want you to know certain things because then you’ll want things from me I’m not going to give you. I want to share my thoughts, but I don’t want to deal with the consequences. I want to tell you what’s going on in my life, but if I do people I love may have their feelings hurt. Do you see how everything I want to do has an excuse attached to it? Isn’t that the very definition of control?
There was a time in my life when I was carefree. I would swim naked in the lake in the middle of the night. I would fall head over heels in love. I would sell everything I owned and move across the country. I would reveal my deepest secrets at a mic in front of a room full of people. But then, I got a rash all over my entire body and I never went swimming in the lake again. I got my heart broken and I closed it up for business. Now, I don’t know how to part with the things I own because I like money too much to give it up. And last, but certainly not least, I write a blog that only sort of reveals the places where I’m stuck.
Control is about the head. It’s about the ego. It’s about me getting mine. Hell, it’s the American way. But the heart is about love. Giving before being asked. Giving without being asked. Loving myself enough to know that my greatest strength and power comes from my ability to love. I think it’s time for me to look at the places in my life where I’m not doing that because I was so much better when I was. Maybe then I won’t feel so stuck.