Last week we talked about having a hidden dream. I asked you to take yours out and dust it off. How’s that working for you? I hope you’re coaxing some life into your dream and having fun with it.
But sometimes we hide more than our dreams deep inside us, don’t we?
Even when we hide something from everyone else, we know it’s there.
We can toss our traumas behind mental bars, lock them up tight, and stand guard eternally, but their ghostly fingers keep probing our memories — mocking and scaring us even from the prison we locked them in.
If I were to suggest you let them out, what would you do? Would you be angry? Would you tell me that it’ll never happen on your watch? Would you tell me you don’t mind needing to control everything and everyone in life if it means keeping those horrible experiences locked away?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you probably have ‘controller’ tendencies.
Controllers usually put themselves in leadership roles in their personal and professional lives because being in charge causes them to feel safer in the world.
But at their base, a controller is a fearful child that doesn’t feel in charge of its world.
The world around looks very scary and this child learns to control its surroundings by carrying out certain behaviours or tasks. This makes the child feel safer and more in charge of their life.
These strategies bring order and predictability to a child’s world but, when the child becomes an adult, these behaviours and tendencies may very well be unhealthy and damaging.
If you see yourself in some of the descriptions above, it’s okay. Take a breath and relax.
I’m not going to make you unlock the mental door that holds your past traumas safely imprisoned. But I am going to ask you to consider something.
If the only way to keep those problems from ever happening again is to keep them locked up while you stand constant guard, doesn’t that leave you imprisoned, too?
Sure, maybe you’re on the other side of the door. But if you aren’t free to come and go, are you any better off than your prisoners?
And if it’s a hidden prison, not only are you standing guard against your past, you’re constantly having to shuffle and adapt to keep all those around you in your future from accidentally causing a prison break.
I don’t know what happened in your past, but I have a good idea of what controller tendencies do to someone’s future and the people who love them.
Don’t unlock the prison if you can’t yet, but at least start asking yourself if your behaviour is really helping you and the people close to you.
If it’s not, keep in mind that the monster hill you used to go sledding on as a kid looked pretty small as an adult. You were just a kid without very many coping skills when you first learned how to control things for your protection. Like the sledding hill, your past problems may be much smaller and easier to handle now that you’re grown up.
If you choose to forward this email to someone you think needs it, do it with gentle compassion. For all of a controller’s bluster, inside they have an exhausted kid that’s been standing guard against monsters and fear that may be unimaginable to you and I.
This week’s quote touches on the power of learning to let go:
“I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.”
~C. JoyBell C.
Next week we’ll talk about what to do when life sucks. I know…that sounds like an odd subject for someone who believes in mindful change and making life even better. But I like to keep it real.
Take care of yourself, and we’ll talk next week!