She Be Thinking….

“Poirot,” I said.  “I have been thinking.”

“An admirable exercise my friend.  Continue it.” – Agatha Christie, Peril at End House

I’ve been told that I think too much.  I’ve also been told that if I stop thinking so much, and all my problems would go away.

If it were only that easy!  As the saying goes – It’s easier said than done.  How the heck do you stop thinking? It’s easy to suggest to someone what they should do, especially if it’s for their own good, but without giving instructions, it’s pointless.  Seriously, what IS the point?

I really didn’t think I thought too much.  I thought everyone thought the way I did.  But then I was told “Smartie, you think too much.  Cut it out.”  I’ve heard this from many people.  I’ve also had people tell me that sometimes it can be hard being around me because of the way my brain processes things.  It’s not like I have a choice to not ‘think’ as much as I do. I was born this way.  To me, this is normal.

So what does it feel like to think a lot?  It’s exhausting at times.  I need regular ‘alone time’ moments to decompress and unwind.  Repetative actions also help slow down my mind.  I still think, but the speed at which the thoughts pass through this brain is reduced.  Yesterday I was working on my front lawn, trying to bring it back to life.  I mowed the lawn, laid down grass seed and spread soil overtop.  It took me about six hours and that helped.  It was very meditative.  I didn’t think much.

What makes it worse for me? Multi-tasking.  The weird thing is, I can be thinking of a million different things at one time.  Sometimes it stresses me out, but most times I’m ok with it. But the intresting thing is, I totally suck at physically multi-tasking.  I can’t do more than one physical task at a time, most times.  A former employer of mine, RL Solutions, sent my department on a time management course, and we were taught that multi-tasking makes you stupid.  This person actually suggests that you DO NOT multi-task.  Well thank goodness because if there are too many things which I’m trying to get done at the same time, this little brain of my will fizz out.  I would be trying to do two or three things at the same time, while thinking of five or six different things too.  What a sight that would be!

A while ago, someone said that they were amazed at how my brain works, and I was asked to draw a picture of how I perceive my brain thinks.  This is what it looks like to me, from the inside.  Interesting, isn’t it?  Or is it scary?

What do I think about?  Haha, I wish I could tell you.  I remember my ex always saying to me, what are you thinking?  I was shocked by this question because I wasn’t sure what to tell him.  Exactly what AM I thinking?  If people could hear my thoughts, I’m sure they would either be scared or extremely confused.  Some are common, but some are completely random.  I would love for a day to just be able to sit down and not think.  That’s not going to happen because first of all, I don’t even know what it means to just sit down and do nothing, and secondly, I don’t even know how to not think.  And if I’m exhausted or anxious, look out!! There is a steam roller incident looking to happen.

I mentioned that I was like this all the time.  I remember back in elementary school the teachers would complain and say that I “daydreamed” too much.  I guess that was the start of it.  I would “space out.”  Today it’s called “lost in thought.”  I have been asked  a couple of times by my therapist “where did you go just now?”  And of course, my answer would be “I was thinking.”

Lately the levels of stress have been a bit more than normal.  This, of course, causes me to think some more.  The other night my daughter had a bad dream and called out to me.  I went to her room to comfort her and when I returned back to bed, rather than sleeping, I remained awake for an hour thinking about about a number of different things: the best route to my new job which I start next week, what the time and price difference would be if I would take transit vs. driving, what is the best way to tackle the repairs to the front lawn – how much soil do I put down after sprinkling grass seed, and how much water, should I call my hairdresser for an appointment next week or the week after, are my roots that noticeable, what should I pack for snacks for my daughter’s lunch and on and on.

People, it was 4am and this was ridiculous!  I needed sleep!

Luckily I’m becoming more aware of my thought patterns.  This is the first step to finding ways to bring myself back to present, and deal with this issue.  I’m finding that writing helps because it makes me focus only on one thing at a time.  It’s impossible to write about two or three different topics at the same time.  Yes, I admit, I’ve tried.  It’s stressful.  And there is something so cool which is awesome and relaxing – when it works.  It’s called meditation.  Getting into the ‘zone’ is a struggle most days.  Those thoughts are zooming around in that head of mine like ping pong balls.  But it works.  I’m teaching my daughter how to meditate too.  That kid is following in my footsteps and it’s better to teach her how to calm her mind down now, rather than later.  Bed time has become somewhat of a disaster lately because she uses that time to think as well.  Last night in a span of five minutes she talked to me about school, dinner, Mexico and what the term “the proof is in the pudding” means.  Oh boy.

So there you go.  If you’re wondering about the randomness of my posts, now you know the reason to it.  It’s like fishing in my brain, and the catch of the day determines the topic you’ll be reading about.  And if this post doesn’t make any sense, I’m sorry.  I’ve tried my best to slow down these thoughts.

Not sure if you thought of this (I did), I used the word ‘think’ 23 times in the post, and the word ‘thought’ 11 times.  🙂

Blorft And Other Things

“I was a little excited but mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for [a long time].” ― Tina Fey, Bossypants

Blorft. What a great word.  And it toally describes what I have been doing for the past few years.  One thing after another would happen, and I’d like “ok, this happened” and I would just plough through it. Just one more thing to look after.

But I find you can only do that so much before your body totally caves in.  And when you reach that point, nothing anybody says can help.  Not “things will get better soon”, or “it’s not that bad”, and my favourite is “it will all work out in the end.” I get it, I know why people say these things.  It’s to give you that hope to keep pushing forward, but what happens when you don’t see any end in sight, or there is no way out?  And what about when you think you’ve hit rock bottom because things can’t possibly get worse, and you believe that you’re on your way up, because things do seem to be getting better, and then all of a sudden you’ve been pushed and you’re plumetting down much further than you have ever been before?  What do you do?

After some thought, I figured it out out a few things that I do.  Most of the time I want to sweep away half of the things I’m expected to do by sleeping as much and as long as I can.  Any moment I can.  But this isn’t possible most times.  I do have a little girl to care for.

Other times, I want to have a very good cry.  Crying to the point where it’s impossible to breathe, where I can’t believe that the sounds I hear are actually coming from me.  And just as much as I want a good cry, I also want a good laugh.   Laughing to the point where my belly aches.

Sometimes I feed my emotional needs by feeding my stomach.  I don’t make the healthiest choices in this state.  Everything I eat usually contains some form of chocolate in it.  And then I get more stressed out because I get wider and I break out in pimples.  Definitely not a good way to cope.

Often times I just want to be left alone in my thoughts.  I go quiet.  I can be in a room full of people, listening to conversation and not contribute at all.  I am just there.

But most of all, what I do is try to slow down my mind.  And how do I do this?

I organize things around the house.

I’m not crazy.  And I’m definitely not a clean freak.  Once I had asked someone to clean after themselves more carefully and they couldn’t understand my strong reaction to what they did.  They couldn’t understand why such as small thing would get to me that much.  They couldn’t understand why I felt that the house was such a mess, when they thought it wasn’t.  It’s about reducing stress and clutter.  It’s about efficiency.  If I’m feeling overwhelmed and I look around the house and see papers and things everywhere, it stresses me out further.  And when someone does something, when they aren’t careful, it stresses me further.  Organizing and cleaning is a way of stepping back, going back to basics.  It doesn’t solve my problems, of course not. It allows me the time and space to work through my problems.  It slows me down.

It’s like the exercise done for some women recovering from abuse or other stressful situations, where she may feel like she is not in charge of anything, especially her own world.  This exercise involves her to come face to face with a horse with trepidation.  The horse senses her fear and becomes tense.  The woman is handed a brush and sent to go and fuss over the horse.  She is told to stand very close to the horse that way she is out of kicking range, but is warned she also has to make sure she doesn’t get stomped on.  Above all, she is told to watch for the signs of fear in herself, as the horse is sensitive to it and react to it.  They are both allowed to back away and regroup and try again until they are comfortable with each other.  Once comfortable, calm prevails.  The exercise is all about teaching the woman to center herself.  To get her to feel that she can take charge of something, has some means of control in her life.

And this is what I do with my cleaning sprees.  It’s about centering myself.  The simple routine allows for that.  In other words “wax on, wax off.”

And what is another big bonus in all of this?  A tidy house 🙂

Hospitals and Lessons Learned

“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”  ~ Mary Oliver

( Note: In order to protect my daughter’s privacy, and of those involved in the incident, I will share only what I believe I can)

A few years ago I worked for an amazing company called RL Solutions.  I really enjoyed working there because I finally felt that I was making a good contribution to society.  This company created software to make health care safer.  During my tenure there, I became very knowledgeable about the cogwheels of health care, specifically what would happen in hospitals.  I learned very quickly to ask many questions and take responsibility for the health care I received and especially that of my.

Tie this knowledge with being highly intuitive, and I quickly figured out why last Friday I was feeling out of sorts.  You see, last Friday my daughter had to visit the local children’s hospital for an MRI.  She attempted to have one the week before and it didn’t work.  She was too scared.  My daughter isn’t scared of anything, especially hospitals and doctors as she was exposed to them since she was born as my Dad was in and out of hospitals all the time until he passed away a couple of years ago.  And having this procedure done at a children’s hospital, they understood these sorts of things and recommended that she return and this time have sedation.  Let me note that this hospital is a world renown hospital, and the service we received the first time was absolutely wonderful.  They were very comforting and catered to my daughter, made her feel very important and they were amazing at calming her anxiety.

So this past Friday I woke up with a knot in my stomach.  I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this way – like as if something bad was going to happen.  My mind wasn’t worried about the appointment, but my gutt was.  My daughter knew we were going to the hospital, but something just wasn’t right.  I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I had, and it was beginning to worry me.

We arrived at the hospital to for the MRI with sedation.  We checked in and everything seemed to be going smoothly as it did last time.  What was different was that she had to be screened for the drug, which is understandable.  And then things started falling apart.  The process wasn’t the same as what was described to me at time of booking.  I started to wonder what was going on. The prior week, her test took place within minutes of arriving, whereas this time an hour and a half had passed and the IV line wasn’t inserted, let alone the medication being administered. Other patients who arrived long after we did came and went, and we continued waiting.  Then, the radiologist arrived to collect us, and brought us into the MRI room and wanted my daughter to lay down.  My daughter freaked out, and was shaking with fear.  At one point she bolted to the door.  I turned to the radiologist and advised that she was to receive sedation, and he explained that she would not be receiving sedation, as there is no one in the hospital to prescribe it.  I explained that the purpose of us being here today was to receive the sedation, or else it would be a repeat of the week before, and that it didn’t make sense.  We went back and forth like this for a while and then I demanded to speak with a supervisor.

I waited for another half hour to speak with someone.  I proceeded to the reception desk, and only then did someone approach me.  The drug was giving to my daughter and within ten minutes of it being administered, they wanted to proceed with the test.  I’m not a clinician, but I know that an orally ingested drug normally requires at least half an hour to take effect.  My daughter at this point was so tight with anxiety that she wouldn’t allow anyone to go near her.  The end result, my daughter didn’t do the test.  No surprise here. And the drug took effect while we were on our way home.

So over the weekend I debated as to whether or not I should contact the hospital’s patient relations department over this.  In the end I did.  I’m glad that I did because I learned a lot from this incident.  Where I believed that there was a breakdown in communication at the hospital, was completely far from the truth.  What was discovered was that the radiologist was uncomfortable in prescribing the drug, and therefore was delaying the test from taking place.  The nurses could not do anything until they received the go ahead from him.  And we were left in the dark, waiting.  Nothing was ever communicated to us.  So now, once again we must return there, and I’m not sure how to do this.  My daughter is adamant about not stepping foot in a hospital again.  Heck, yesterday she wouldn’t even sit in the dentist chair, and she never had a problem going to the dentist.  This incident has certainly created ripple effects.

These are some of the things I learned from this incident:

  1. You MUST take control of your own health.  We are all human, and therefore mistakes will happen.  Doctors, nurses or anyone that works in health care are not immune to mistakes.
  2. Always look at who else is involved in with what you’re doing.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing something, communicate with others and come up with an alternative plan.  As a result of the radiologist not doing his job, my daughter was traumatized, and now many more complicated steps are required in order for her next appointment to take place.
  3. There are always consequences to actions or inactions.  Consider them before doing anything and then proceed with care.  Again, because of this incident, many people have had to get involved now.  Also, this was a time sensitive test, which the radiologist may or may had not known.  I am praying that there will not be any adverse consequences because now there is a long delay to her next test. Had he had thought of this, maybe this would not have happened.   This is a hospital after all, and she is having a test for a reason.
  4. Advocate for yourself.  You deserve the best because you matter.  If you see that someone cannot advocate for themselves, step in.  Everyone is important.

Of course these lessons are not limited to health care.  They apply to all areas of life.  I struggled with whether or not I should share them with you, but I felt that I needed to, because I care about you.  Not that I have any enemies, but if I did, I wouldn’t wish this upon them.  No one should experience this.  In a nutshell, don’t remain silent and accept things the way they are.  Speak up.  You matter.

Right Now I Am HERE

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have.  Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”  ―  Eckhart Tolle

Where are you right now?  Me? Right now, I’m in my pj’s, sitting in my computer room.  I just finished my bowl of cereal, I’m sipping on my coffee and trying to get my brain to wake up.  For some reason, writing helps it wake up properly. Otherwise it takes hours.

So, I’ve just told you where I am physically.  Now mentally, I could be anywhere.  Most times, my mind is hours, days or even weeks ahead of the present moment (and sadly, even years at times).  Where are you mentally?  Of course, you’re reading this post, so you would think that you were here.  But are you really?  Or are you just reading the words, and thinking what you need to get done at work, or what to make for dinner, or even, what you’re planning to do for the weekend?

It’s so easy to get ahead of ourselves.  Most times, when we do, it’s because we worry and are anxious.  We need to learn how to center ourselves, be grounded in the present moment.  It’s unrealistic to say we shouldn’t think of the future, because we need to. We should plan for our future.  But when you start worrying about possible outcomes, when you know that they may not take place that way, that’s when you get yourself into trouble – when you begin to fret, when you aren’t able to function normally and you are so anxious that you become to be in a permanent state of “basket case-ness.”

So what do you do in times like this?  There are lots which you can do.  I’ll share with you some of the things that I have learned, some from the many psychology books I’ve read, and what has been shared by close friends and my therapist.

One option is to write things down from the heart.  Really write down what you are feeling.  Not in point form or anything, but in full complete sentences as if you are having a conversation with someone.  Many times when we are worrying about the future we are ashamed to tell anyone for fear of judgement, so we internalize it.  That leads to a whole mess of things, so by writing it down it allows you to acknowledge it, let it go, and then you feel lighter.  Here is an example of what I wrote once:

“I feel like sh*t.  I can’t seem to concentrate on anything.  All I want to do is cry.  I have so much to do in the next week that I don’t know when I’m going to get two minutes to just breathe.  I have to do ‘this,’ and then from there I have to go ‘here’ and see ‘this person.’  I wonder what they will say?  I just know that they’re going to tear my head off.  Oh and because of that, our relationship will never be the same.  They won’t like me anymore, and that means I’ve just blown my chances with ever getting somewhere.  I just know that they hate me and think I’m an idiot.  Why do I even bother.  And how am I going to get through the week?  I’m so exhausted just thinking about it.  And on Saturday I have so many people coming over, how am I going to prepare all that food when I’m booked down to the minute? Maybe I should cancel, but I can’t, people are coming from far and have held the date for so long.”

As you can see, my mind was so far ahead, and I was so scattered.  Just by writing it down, it allowed me to release the fear.  Another technique is to repeat “Right now, I am ….” or “At this moment, I am …..” Basically, what you are doing is bringing yourself back into the present, to what you are currently doing.  This really works well, especially if you don’t have the ability to write anything down.  Many times I find myself skipping ahead, and I say “Smartie, right now you are washing the dishes” or “At this moment, you are driving.”  The mind always seems to drift when I’m doing something which doesn’t require much thought.

And lastly, when I try to rein in my mind, and I have trouble doing so, I do the technique which my therapist taught me.  She has me use three of my senses: sight, sound and feel.  You would start off by listening to five things around you, the see five things around you and then feel five things around you.  So right now, five things I hear are: 1. the punching of the keys to my laptop 2. the airplanes outside 3. my breath 4. the hum of my laptop 5. the car door being slammed.  Five things I see are: 1. my laptop 2. the blinking light to my Blackberry 3. The sunlight shinning on the wall 4. my computer screen 5. my fingers moving as I type.  Five things I feel are: 1. my fingers on the keys 2. the floor under my bare feet 3. the chair supporting my lower back 4. my hair tickling my face 5. my breath on my lip.  And so you would repeat this again, but this time naming four items and then three and then two and so on until you reach one.  It’s ok to repeat items as well.  Once you get to one you’ll feel so grounded and in the present moment.  It’s so calming.  I even find that I use this technique when I’m having trouble sleeping, as most times I’m usually thinking of something.

So, now after reading this, I’m going to ask you again.  Where are you right now?  Me? Right now, I am HERE.

An Experiment

“You know how it is when you go to be the subject of a psychology experiment, and nobody else shows up, and you think maybe that’s part of the experiment? I’m like that all the time.” – Steven Wright

I’d like you to try something amazing that I just discovered.  Actually, I didn’t “just” discover it.  I’ve known about it for quite a few months, but didn’t do anything with it.  Today I decided to try an experiment, and now I’d like you to as well.  It really is cool.  So please follow my instructions closely that way you get the full effect.

You can do this anywhere – at work, at home, standing in line at the grocery store.  It doesn’t matter where you are.  Don’t worry about looking stupid, because nobody will even notice what you’re doing anyway. Ready?  Ok, here it goes: I want you to smirk.  You know, curl up your lips just a tiny bit at the ends – kind of like you’re smiling to yourself, like you know a big secret that no one else knows. Now include your eyes as well. Let them curl up a bit, also like when you’re smiling.

You probably think that I’ve lost whatever marbles I have left, but before you pass any judgment or dismiss what I’m telling you, really give it a shot.  Now continue doing this for about ten more seconds. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten.

Now stop.  I mean it, stop.  Let your face relax into its regular form. Continue for ten seconds like this now.  One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten.

Now smirk again.  Don’t worry, this is the last time I’m going to ask you to do this.

Did you feel a shift in your mood from when you smirked and then stopped, and then smirked again?  How did you feel when you were smirking? Did you feel lighter?  Content? Relaxed?  I did.  And when I stopped, I felt “blah.”

I was told about this by a friend who was reading The Power of Infinite Love and Gratitude.  I don’t think I have everything down pact with this technique, so don’t quote me exactly on it but what I do remember really works.  Originally I thought that this technique was full of baloney (no offence to baloney lovers) but it’s not.  Think about it, how could you feel depressed, angry, and gloomy when you’re walking around with a smile on your face?  Negative thoughts can’t penetrate either.  This technique isn’t about replacing your feelings.  If you’re angry, then be angry.  Feel the emotion right through.  This technique shortens the duration of that feeling.  Your outlook is brighter, and things and events won’t get to you as much, so the chances of you feeling angry in the first place are greatly reduced.

I know it’s hard to go around all day purposely placing a smirk on your face, but after a while, it becomes a habit.  Your ‘blah’ face became norm after all, didn’t it?  So why not replace it with a little smile?

Today I made a conscious effort to practice this and I was amazed at how energized I feel. I feel happier, am walking taller, and feel so much more alive. I feel like I was walking around with a big secret that only I know.  Well, it was kind of like that, until I shared it with you.

I welcome you to try it out. Let me know how you make out. I’m interested in hearing about your experience.

Smartie

Alone With Solitude

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I know that I am strong.  There is no doubt about it.  To go through what life has handed me on a silver platter these past few years, and still be standing could only mean that I am strong.  I didn’t always think so, but I’ve learned to believe in my strength.  If I had the chance to go back in time and make changes, I wouldn’t change anything because so many beautiful gifts and so much understanding and growth has come out of this.  But I must admit – I am tired.  I’m tired of having to be the strong one, of always having to chug ahead no matter what and having to make decisions and take responsibility for a lot.  I am reaching the point where I am too tired to think and talk.  When I’m really tired I tend to go silent.  It isn’t that I’m avoiding people, or I have nothing to say.  I find that it just requires a lot of energy to line up all my thoughts in order to form them into sentences.  I don’t have that energy at the moment, and so I just let those thoughts swirl and swirl around in my mind hoping that they’ll wear themselves out eventually and stop.  So, please don’t think I’ve been quiet because of you.  It’s not you, really, it’s me.

So, what I’ve found out is that when I’m silent and wanting to be left alone, people get suspicious.  Trying to be alone becomes difficult, and I find that the opposite actually happens.  Because of my solitude, I am constantly apologizing or explaining my wanting to be alone.  People seem confused with the reason for why I crave it so much.  So I sometimes wonder why so many people are afraid to sit for a while alone without distractions, what are they afraid of that will happen?  It’s when I silence the blaring lights and mind numbing sounds of my daily life that I find that I can actually hear what life is truly trying to teach me, what has taken residence in my heart and is desperately trying to be communicated to me.  I find that at that moment things are no longer distorted and I can see the situations in my life for what they really are.  They are no longer mean and scary, and this is where I can gather up the strength and courage needed to take me through the next phase which I will be facing.  The only way I can understand this big, gigantic, and yet small world is to once in a while turn away from it, and retreat inward.

Please don’t think I’m some kind of hippy or monk.  I don’t sit on the floor in a yoga pose, or sit under an apple tree and say “Peace, Dude.”  I go on with my daily chores as normal.  I still go to work, run errands etc.  I just modify a few things.  I place my Blackberry on phone calls only – and respond only to urgent things.  Although I can’t stop doing everything, I do try to reduce the amount things that I do, because it’s unrealistic to think otherwise.  I just don’t speak with anyone. I stay quiet.  I listen to what my body tries to tell me. I may listen to the radio or watch TV, but most of the time I don’t because I find that with the silence around me, the noise tends to be intrusive.  I just veg out.

You’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about, so let me explain what solitude means to me.  I believe that the silence is a way to rest the mind.  Silencing the mind is to my spirit what sleep is to my body.  I don’t know about you but I know that I can’t go without sleep for too long because my body will break down, and the same holds true with my mind.  Silence provides nourishment and refreshment.  Going too long without providing it with what it requires makes it go mushy.  This is when depression sets in, situations become extreme and to difficult to be in and everything is thrown out of proportion – bigger, scarier and more complicated that they actually are.  To retreat inwards is difficult at times though, because sometimes I am forced to face not so nice things about myself and others.  I see the true nature of people, different from what I originally thought about them, almost like devils are disguised as angels, and angels are disguised as devils.  Being in silence allows for my spirit to tell the difference, since I am not wrapped up in the drama of the situations.

My times of solitude are gifts wrapped in many different sizes, some are happy, sad and many are suffering.  But it’s the times when I go through the darkness, the lonely, intense and horrible darkness and I struggle to express my pain, unable to comprehend, and my efforts to put words on paper that I find it to be most effective.  Through these times I am forced to be patient with myself, to endure and believe in the simplicity of it all, as life is so hectic most of the time.  With the difficulty of the silence grows a confidence in life and me, which allows me to loosen the reins of control and let life happen to me.  Because most times, life knows exactly what needs to happen, and the path is shown to me while in silence.

There is a pattern with this I have noticed too.  I don’t think about wanting to go into solitude, it just happens.  In the beginning there is a sense of joy as I begin to notice that I am preparing for the future, what is to come.  Then with action, anxiety then sets in as efforts are made to make changes to my life.  After this comes weariness, discouragement and then, once again, flight into solitude.  Sounds crazy really, why would I want to go into solitude again?  Why? Because of the joys which is felt.  There is meaning to all of this.

The secret of why I go into solitude, besides reflecting, growing and gaining strength and courage is that it gives birth to my creativity.  All the pain it causes me, these are gifts to me.  It is a place where I am able to go alone; I’m unable to bring anyone with me.  This world we live in is starved for solitude, silence and privacy – even in midst of the very unfamiliar circumstance.  There I am able to find all my paths, my healing and my peace. My solitude is my home.

Out Of Control With Control

“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

 

I have been on a writing hiatus for the last while, though my mind has been cranking, trying to make sense of all sorts of things that are going on in my life.  I have found that a way to release myself from these thoughts is to write about them, put them on ‘paper’.  I find that as I write, everything that I’ve been contemplating comes together, the puzzle pieces join to make a lovely picture.  Essentially, I reach a point of clarity about the situation.

 

What has been grappling for me lately is one’s need for ‘control’ – the need to control situations, people and things.  What is behind all of this?  What brings a person to feel that they must control another?  Dictionary.com defined control as the situation of being under the regulation, domination or command of another. And Merriam-Webster.com defines it as to exercise restraining or directing influence over another thing.

 

I have found that fear and uncertainty are married and is a breeding ground for one’s need for control.  People are afraid of uncertainty; of not knowing what will happen next, and things unfamiliar.  We are all afraid to make decisions or act on our own free will for fear of making a mistake, and especially what other people will think about us or how they will react towards what we do.  The moment we decide to take a chance, to act fully on our own desires, we fear to face the repercussions of a decision made which was not ideal.  We expect guarantees with whatever we do will turn out ok; we want to be able to go through life without struggles.  And when the situation doesn’t turn out as we planned, or something is out of our means of control, we do not understand, and try desperately to rein in the ropes.  We feel like we’re going crazy.

 

Of course we feel like we’re going crazy because society teaches us that we need to control everything.  Fear is pounded into us right from the start – when we are born.  We are taught at an early age to follow rules if we want to be safe, happy and accepted.  We’re taught to fear things that we know nothing of, have not experienced or seen, such as ‘the bad guys out there.’  We must behave or act in a certain way or we will be shunned from the community, and people will ‘talk’ because we are doing things differently from everyone else.  And so at an early age we already fear about how our own future will turn out, and this is paralyzing in itself.  We need to start controlling our life’s outcome at an early age.  Children are asked what they want to be when they grow up, high school students are told to think carefully of what career path they want to take in order not to waste four or five years worth of university, we need to plan for retirement while we’re still young or else we’ll live in poverty.  How can we not feel the need to control our future?  But when this sometimes spills into the need to control others, that’s when things get really messy.

 

But we can’t control others.  This isn’t possible and yet we try and try and try.  We become angry because we cannot make others be what we want them to be, or do what we want them to do.  I believe that the anger isn’t because the other person isn’t doing as we said; the anger is the result of us being discontent with our own life.  We are not the person we want to be and because of the other person’s reaction to our needs isn’t what we expect, it forces us to reflect inward and that scares the crap out of us.  This is too painful, and so we project our feelings onto others, as it’s much ‘safer’ to do so and as a result we up our antes when they don’t do what we say.  The end result is a vicious cycle is born.  Being the person who has the need to control is an awful place to be in.  The expectation placed on others is so unrealistic that any chance of them being met is impossible.  Extreme disappointment and mistrust is then experienced.

 

However, no matter what the other person does, the person needing to control will never be able to trust.  Trust is the fruit of a loving relationship, and it cannot be produced by the person being controlled.  Trust is only possible from the person needing control.  They relationship either has it or it doesn’t.   I’m not saying that the person controlling doesn’t love the other.  Sometimes when you love someone so much you feel that you need to control them, to protect them.  This, however, cuts off their life force, and prevents them from living their own life, and experiencing all that they need to experience.  In the end, resentment is felt towards the person wanting to control.

 

When I decided to make changes in my life, to become happy, a lot of people became angry with me.  I created ripples in the delicate waters of their life, which they did not want.  It was almost like the changes I was making became radical when in fact they weren’t.  The fact that I decided to make for myself the life I wanted, the way I wanted was a foreign concept to some.  I can still see the confusion on their faces.  It frightened a lot of people.  Everything known to them was challenged, almost as if a chaos bomb was dropped.  What was real became unreal; things that were impossible became tangible.  Any means to control the situation became impossible and when this was attempted, their attempts seemed silly.  People were miserable, depressed, angry and in pain -including me.

 

Relationships became strained.  Not just the relationship with my ex, but the relationships with many people.  Many dissolved altogether, not by my choice, as I wasn’t even given one in most cases. I was hurt, tried to make sense of it, and even reached out.  But soon enough I gave up any need for control in those cases, and accepted the outcomes willingly.  But in many other cases I fought to have the relationships continue, and in the way I wanted them to.  The relationships had become painful to be in.  I forced love to take place in them, and to have the other person accept my views, my life all on my terms.  It didn’t matter how much I loved the person, I still wanted to have my own way.  I think this holds true for many people, especially when we want nothing but the best for the other person.  But it’s not in the nature of love to force a relationship.  That is contradictory to what love is.  It is in the nature of love to open the way for the relationship to blossom.  I decided to make changes.  I took the pain which I was feeling and decided to use it towards good.  I used the energy from the pain and channeled it towards positive reactions to the situations I once tried to control.  I no longer tried to control the situation or the people in it, because I learned the hard way that this was not possible.  I took control of my life by controlling my reaction to the situations.  Life became brighter and less stressful when I let things flow the way they were meant to flow.

 

I found that control gives you a false sense of power.  It is illusory and therefore you feel that you have the power to judge others and feel superior to them.  You believe that you know better, and your standard of living is higher and therefore you judge, enforcing rules and expectations, in an attempt to create certainty out of uncertainty.  But we don’t call the shots.  We cannot make sense in this world based on a small and incomplete picture of reality.  We don’t know what someone else’s reality is.  Yet we dictate the terms and judge their actions and find them guilty of things untrue.

 

There will always be situations which I find unsatisfactory, things that I want done a certain way or people who I want to behave or do things differently.  I don’t have control over that.  I can only change what people know by speaking with them, and lending my opinion, but they are ultimately in charge of what they do with it and in charge of how they want to live their life.  The fear of the unknown will always be there and the decision lies in whether or not the fear of the unknown will hinder life from taking place.  A life filled with happiness could be waiting around the corner but the uncertainty and living in that fear can kill it, can prevent it from entering our world.  Babies take this chance all the time.  Imagine what the world would be like if every baby was afraid to take that first step.  Or give up after they fell the first time.  They would never know what it would be like to walk, to run, jump or dance.  All that freedom would have been taken away.  Those who are afraid of freedom are those who are unable to trust others to live in it.

 

And so I learned to forgive – myself.  I needed to release myself from something that was preventing joy from coming into my life, which affected my ability to love.  It was eating me alive.  Many people are sick, miserable and extremely stressed because of their unhealthy attachments to things that they cannot control.   Incredible things can happen in life when we make the decision to control what we do have power over – our reactions, instead of craving the need to control what we can’t.  If you want to control things in your life so badly, you need to start working on your mind.  It’s the only thing that you should try to control.  If you can’t, then you’re in big, big trouble.  The more you try to control everything else in life, the more out of control you will be.  You will be basing your personal happiness on things entirely out of your control.  Good luck to you if this is what you choose.