Life throws us situations everyday. There is no way of stopping this and even if we create a perfect get-away on our own private island we will still get hungry, sad, lonely, happy, scared, confused, and have to take a pee. What I am saying is that even if we create a perfect, externally comfortable place, we still have to live with our mind, emotions, and needs as human beings on a daily basis. There is no “getting away” from that. However, there is this idea of “control.”
So many people, including myself, try to control our lives because it makes us believe that we have the power to vanish from these situations, these hungers, and these painful truths about life. It can be taken on in the form of lying to others about who we truly are in order to fabricate a politically correct character, or drinking and taking drugs to fit in and create a blurry fiasco with our friends to step away from the realities of the world. Either way, these lies and distractions mostly create confusion, contradiction, and short-term diversion from our mind, emotions, and where life is at today. Only to find that we have to deal with the same thoughts, feelings, and situations that we were trying to leave behind.
Autobiography of Control
As life throws me various situations throughout the day, I try controlling them to fit the ideas of my anticipated life schedule. For example, lets say my dog dies and I have an incredible feeling of loss bringing me intense sadness. I sit in shock and disturbance. This is not my plan. My life schedule is to be happy, always on top of things, and spending time with my dog and nurturing his needs. I can barely go to work, focus clearly for a long period of time, or hold a conversation with my friends and family. So, I try controlling this feeling to grasp happiness and regularity again. I do a ton of things that usually get me back on routine, but they are not effective because I’m just trying to fit an imagined plan instead of being involved with where life is at the moment. Where my life actually is, in this situation, is feeling the intense sadness brought on by the incredible loss of this dog that was a major part of my life. If I accept the feeling, explore it, and organize the situation in my mind, then I will be able to mourn clearly, learn from the feelings and facts, and grow to the next chapter of my life with value and meaning.
So, if accepting, exploring, and organizing create a consequence of value and meaning, why do I bow down to an idea that creates confusion, stress, and a lack of value? It is a habit that has been built from when I was a kid and strong desires created from fear, embarrassment, and loneliness pull me in line with this habit: the fear of having out-of-control panic attacks keeps me here; the embarrassment that comes from being completely innocent keeps me here; and, the feeling of being so alone when I don’t fit in is keeping me here. To control these painful experiences and divert myself away from them I have established half thought out insights, developed a mask that covers my real face, and I have found events and entertainment that distract my mind (and the pain). These surface-level techniques just push the pain and voids to the side until my mind is idle again, allowing these pains to come roaring back. In order to start replacing “control” with observing where life is at, learning from it, and growing along side of it, I need to develop self-awareness and explore my desires to control in more depth.
My Desire to Control: Panic Attacks
Panic attacks enter my world when my mind is unorganized and impulsive. They come when my thoughts are full of ideas, theories, judgments, conclusions, and assumptions that twist and turn my emotions in multiple different directions…leading me to a confused and frightened state. What I am saying is that when I don’t fully understand the situation I am involved in, I get lost, scared, and just plain weird. For example, one night in high school, I was insecure about my girlfriend not wanting to stay and hang out with me. As she was about to leave I randomly thought, and told her, that I was going to kill myself (not a normal defense mechanism—but, one indeed). As that thought entered the realm of reality, I started to freak out. Judgments from her and myself started piling up in my head, conclusions of psychiatric diseases popped up from the knowledge I built from my AP Psychology classes, and I started to feel overwhelmed with confusion and fear. I thought that I was now ridden with mental disease (even though I was just a normal kid before this 10 second long thought process) and forced myself into, what I had read to be, the symptoms associated with a full-blown panic attack.
What is needed here is to find the core of the problem. The issue is an unorganized, impulsive mind. So, I need to learn how to organize my experiences to become clear about the facts of myself, others, and life (creating less confusion, less fear, and more clarity and conscious choice). For example, in the same situation, instead of assuming that my girlfriend was leaving because she didn’t want to hang out with me, I could have been curious and asked the reason she was leaving. She would have responded (since I found this out later down the road) with the fact that her parents shortened her curfew and needed her home. As you can see, the story unraveled in the way that it did because my mind did not organize the facts of the situation and I acted impulsively on various assumptions that my brain had built up that night. If I was trying to organize the experience, I would have been curious to find the facts, and the meaning behind those facts (she had to leave, and if she didn’t then she would probably get grounded and lose trust with her parents…thus, we would not be able to hang out as much). Then, I would have understood the situation and been more accepting. I would move on to the next experience of my life with peace of mind.
My Desire to Control: Embarrassment
Pain from innocence usually stems from a blow to the ego. It’s embarrassing to be unskilled at or uninformed about something that is popular knowledge. For example, if I visit my girlfriend’s parents who love to play intense games of soccer with the whole family and I am uninformed about the rules and untrained in the athleticism required, there may be some insecurity that cuts off the actual experience of being myself while meeting the parents. In this situation, I may put on a mask that creates a distorted image to divert the attention away from my true self. For example, acting like I just rolled my ankle or just got the flu, so that I don’t have to show my vulnerability to a game that the family values so much. Caring about my image too much will create a contradicting sense of self and will completely cut off my innocence. In turn, this will cut off the full experience of that day, as I would be much too focused on staying on top of my image rather than being involved truthfully and passionately as myself.
There are two things that will help the ego-blowing judgment slide past my attention. First off, is this popular thing going to add any value to my life if I know about it and am skilled at it? This question will bring awareness to the fact that “popular” knowledge and skills are seen as necessary by specific groups of people and may not qualify as vital in my purpose in life. If it does qualify, then I will be willing to learn. If it does not, then I will find it less daunting to play a quick game of soccer, as it is not attached to my self-esteem anymore. Second, innocence is a form of honesty. Staying congruent and honest with myself will help me to see what I need to do in every situation, especially ones that I have never been involved with before. Going into an unknown situation with the willingness to explore it and learn about it is sincere, valuable, and builds self-respect. So, instead of fighting to look popular, choosing to be innocent and honest will create a congruent sense of self, long-lasting value from the information I gather, and self-worth.
My Desire to Control: Loneliness
In order to maintain companions, I have built up knowledge of what is cool and what I can do to fit in with specific groups of people. Most of the standards to fit in are superficial and contradictory. So, while living these standards, I have created confusion in my mind and a distorted view of life and myself (as if I am a tiny cat who is looking in the mirror and seeing a lion).
I have been talking a lot about an organized and congruent thought process. This thought process is free of rigid standards and is focused on whatever is going in an experience. What I have found is that most people’s minds are involved with fitting in and applying standards to their thoughts and actions. So, moving towards a standardless thought process is moving me farther and farther from these “groups.” The consequence of this is that the farther I move, the less companionship I attain. Thus, I get lonely.
The question then becomes: would I rather feel lonely than pretend that the void of “being alone” is actually being filled? Superficial companionship does not have the capacity to gain real connections. Becoming innocent and being fully immersed in each moment an experience is sharing with me will create a real connection to life. And once I have the ability to connect with life, sharing this thought process and purpose with another person will create a real connection and truly fill the void of “being alone.” So, since I don’t have that someone, I would rather feel lonely than the feeling when I pretend that the void is being filled, and so hurtful consequences like being confused, lost, and tensely distracted can be avoided.
Freedom is out-of-control. Freedom is without standards and theories. Freedom is organizing facts to create awareness, meaning, and solutions in the moment. Freedom is thinking to become clear about what’s going on and where I’m at right now. Freedom is becoming clear so that fear and stress are trumped by focus and passion. The context of freedom I am speaking of here is in our thoughts and feelings…our mind.
In my next potential EP, I will be painting a picture about how my life has been defined by control and perfectionism. As I make my own progress to grow out of this hurtful mindset and replace it with a free mindset, I would write each song through my own experience with these transitions. I would call it the Autobiography of Control. Below, I will be sharing lyrics and the rough demo to a song that I have been working on for it. It is called “Control.”
I’m sittin back today, as I learn about myself
I think I’ll start when I was growing up and free
I learned a lot, that life is just a thing
And I can make it and shape it to fit (my own plan)
But I say, I’m stressed
Life’s not going my way, now I know
I don’t have control
And my nerves won’t let me sleep, can’t focus anywhere
This unknown space it’ll kick me down as it waits for me
Esteem disarranged, I’m scared to stumble from the pain
I wanna control this feeling ’cause I just can’t take it
And I say, I’m stressed
Life’s not going my way, now I know
I don’t have control
And I say, no peace
Can’t fulfill my brain, till I know
I don’t have control