In our contemporary society we are told to value being in control, to not let ourself feel too much. So often we are told "Take control", "Control yourself", "Don't show your weakness", "Stay in control." Many of us strive to be in control of our lives, often this finds expression in seeking to control others. In reality the only constant is that the universe in which we live is constantly changing - life is a changing process.
Just for a moment, imagine yourself laying on your bed being still. Now imagine yourself seeing the earth and all it entails the people, cars, planes, lights, maybe even some ships. Allow yourself to visualize this in as much detail as possible. Now allow yourself to feel the dynamics of all this activity. Now attempt to control all this. It is exactly this that most of us attempt to do in our daily life, control our world. It is no wonder we feel so confused at times.
Early in our life we developed mechanisms or strategies that allowed us to feel some sense of order or control. These strategies may be "Keep quiet", "Be a good boy or girl", "Put others first", "To get what I want I have to shout or throw a temper." While these may have allowed us to get what what we wanted as a child, it is not a very empowered or satisfying way to achieve our goals as an adult.
These strategies serve the primary purpose of preventing us feeling powerless. The sense or feeling of powerlessness is the perhaps one of the most threatening experiences in our life. We all have developed some rather elaborate strategies to prevent this feeling. The down side of this is that what we seek to avoid we create. Whatever we focus on we create, so we will eventually experience this pain. Evetually the illusion of control is broken. As the illusion is broken we usually respond with anger, blame, shame, guilt or a feeling of wrongness.
On one level our attempt to gain control is an attempt to hold some order or consistency in our life, yet in so doing we limit our ability to receive pleasure. While ever we invest in control we disallow true pleasure. The more we control the more we will experience the exact opposite of what we desire, freedom. There are journals of scientific support for the biological impact of trying to keeping control, it is called STRESS.
In their natural state all organism live in a balance of excitation and release, yet when we keep control we prevent release and consequently create stress. This can be simply not expressing ourself when we have something to say. There is much evidence to support the idea of unexpressed emotion or energy is accumulated or stored within the tissues of the body. As this energy is accumulated it creates illnesses and those rather unpleasant emotional outbursts we have from time-to-time. Even these outbursts and illnesses are an attempt to find some release to create a biological balance or homeostasis. Most of us will make these wrong which is simply compounding the situation.
Being in Control Reduces Pleasure
Being in control significantly impedes our ability to experience all our emotions, to have fun joy, to cry. This is the central concept of the work of somatic therapists; such as Wilhelm Reich with his bodywork, Alexander Lowen with Bioenergetics and Fritz Perls with Gestalt Therapy. Reich presented this concept in terms of the capacity to surrender to the orgasm. For Reich the ability to consistently achieve full-body orgasm was the indicator of health. Reich argued that the orgasmic release must be accompanied by a full body release, not merely a pelvic thrust.
Our relationship with power will often be reflected in our sexual expression. It seems that humans are blessed with the capacity to experience more than simple fornication. We are capable of achieving mutual pleasuring. Can you remember one truly pleasurable experience in your life where you have been in control? There needs to be the ability to release and be out of control, in order to experience pleasure and intimacy.
Another cost of being in control is the inability to experience intimacy. While we are in control we are physically tense and tight, protective. The creation of this protection or reduction of a perceived threat is based on past experiences, it has no basis in our current life. How often have we heard "I'll never let someone that close" or "I'll never love again, it hurts too much." In order to experience that which we most crave we have to allow ourself to let the unexpressed past be expressed, allowing this to no longer expend our life force containing it.
On the deepest level all humans require intimacy, to experience love, communion and perhaps even "to know the pain of too much tenderness." If this is what we require then control must be relinquished.
Boundaries Not Barriers
While we were growing up few of us were supported to develop boundaries or a clear sense of WHO we are. It is the development of this sense of SELF that is essential for us to be able to experience intimacy and to live as healthy adults. It is precisely due to our lack of boundaries we develop barriers or control mechanism, yet again this is an illusion based on a lack of self experience. It is not possible to experience SELF while we seek control; in this way of living our reference is external, it is designed to keep "them" out.
Control is fear based. The underlying belief is "I am not powerful enough to fully trust." This lack of trust is nothing to with the outside world; it is a lack of trust with our SELF.
Boundaries allow us to express ourself, honestly and powerfully, to say what we feel. To be tell someone that they are doing something that we are not comfortable with we must have a sense of self. It amazing how many people continue to participate in experiences that they do not want to. Having a clear sense of SELF frees us from the misnomer of being responsible for someone else's feelings or creations. Boundaries facilitate compassion, love, and self-responsiblity. Boundaries free us to say what pleasures us, to experience without fear and to surrender to our life, to become living examples of inner strength and outer gentleness.
To truly experience power we must know vulnerability, for without this how can we know our real SELF. True strength lies in vulnerability. True power comes from defenselessness, having nothing to thrust. It we then have nothing to defend and we draw no attack.
Contrasted with being in control is being in charge; this is when we make our choice to prevent the unknown or new. As we strengthen this sense of self we can respond to our life as the dynamic beings we are here to be. We are in charge, driven by our inner life force. To live without referring to the past in our decision making, we have to release it and make peace, internally. As we make this our choice we can experience life as it is, in the moment, as the powerful creative force we are, not as timid, fear driven, past orientated, controlled, reactive organisms. We are alive. Being in charge is when we make decisions and choices based in what we want now. When we make choices based in our adult self.
We are in charge when we feel our choices, when we are moved to action that allow movement and new experience. When we allow ourself to let go of control we can begin to take charge, to be invigorated. Living our life fully. When we are in charge we know what we want. We are able to surrender to our experiences - we feel alive. Are you willing to choose this?