Friday, February 19, 2010

Why Losing Control Isn't Necessarily a Bad Thing

By Amy Phillips-Gary

I've been watching the Winter Olympics a lot this past week. I've been amazed and inspired by the skill, creativity, determination and endurance displayed by all of the athletes-- not just those who were awarded medals.

I found myself holding my breath as skiers raced down a mountainside traveling over 60 mph as they jumped and turned and vied for top speeds.

As these women and men careened down the mountain ski runs, I'd often perceive that they were out of control-- some of them did wipe out. I've only skied a few times in my life (and certainly not on any runs close to those at the Olympics), but to my untrained eyes there were many occasions when it seemed that at any moment the skier was going to crash.

On the whole, being in control when you're on a set of skis moving over 60 mph down an alpine slope is probably a good thing.

In many aspects of life, however, the compulsion to control and be in control can become a huge obstacle and actually keep us stuck-- or even send us backsliding.

I've admitted in previous blog posts that I have a propensity to control. Especially when particular aspects of my life feel overwhelming or out of my reach, I tend to dig in and attempt to control anything and anybody I can.

This has led to pain and disconnection within myself and in my relationships. I am certainly aware of the negative consequences of trying to control.

Mixed messages
At the same time, it seems to me that we are taught that to be in control is beneficial, desirable and revered.

After all, addicts are seen as those people who cannot control their use of a particular substance or activity. A person who yells around and throws things is viewed as unable to control his or her temper.

These are just a couple of examples.

Being “in control” and “controlling” are slightly different actions, but the mixed message is still there.

For some of us, the belief develops that, “I have to maintain control of my life and also not infringe on the lives of others.”

This is certainly a reasonable approach.

But even this notion of being “in control” without breaching that invisible line and crossing into “controlling” can hold a person back.

For example, let's say that I want to improve my financial situation. I set goals about this. I write down lists of how I think I can increase my income. I create in my mind a plan for how I will systematically move from where I currently am to where I want to be.

This all make rational sense and it might be effective.

However, if I attempt to control this aspiration by holding fast to and continually focusing in on my goal, I can become easily frustrated when things don't go according to my plan.

I can pretty quickly find myself feeling helpless and out of control if the results that I want haven't come yet. As a result, I might cling to that plan even tighter or perhaps even abandon it all together.

Release control and take command
Often, it is in those moments of abandon, when we release control, that the movement that we wanted all along occurs.

I have to admit, the idea of relinquishing control of my life strikes a bit of terror in me! But I also see very clearly that my propensity for control keeps me stuck where I am.

The trick here is to go ahead and create your vision for what you want. Let yourself feel excited and energized by it. You might even have some great ideas about what your next step could be.

But don't try to plan it all out.

Once you know what you want, let it go. This doesn't mean that you don't want whatever it is anymore. It means that you're going to allow what you want to manifest.

At those top speeds, Olympic downhill skiers have to release some amount of control and, to some degree, simply ride along. A tight and rigid resistance from the skier will undoubtedly lead to a wipe out and possible injury.

Teacher Richard Bartlett, author of The Physics of Miracles, makes the distinction between command and control. According to Bartlett, while control has a dimension of forcing something or trying to make it happen, command comes from the heart.

To command is to confidently know what you want and then release your attachment so that you can hear the guidance and feel the inspiration that will take you there...or perhaps someplace even better than you'd initially dreamed.

Perhaps releasing control doesn't have to be such a scary thing after all. Instead, I can step up and gently, yet assuredly, and take command of my own life.

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