When We Feel out of Control.
In battling with addictions, compulsions — to eat, drink, shop, have sex, take drugs, numb out…, we go back and forth, and in and out of a spiral of self-blame and shame.
In wrestling with mood swings, recurring extreme emotions, and anger outbursts, we end up making our minds our enemy, as if our feelings are monsters lurking in the background, determined to get us.
In our desperate attempts to be liberated, we try to tame our inner impulses through threats and force, and by scaring ourselves into submission.
We use deprivation, punishments, and criticisms, all in the name of discipline and self-improvement.
But you might have gathered by now these strategies do not work in the long run.
When we try and control our cravings through threats and rigid rules that curb appetite and desires, we are teaching our body to fear, and become mistrustful of itself.
When we try to control our behaviors through punishment and praise, we are training our mind to always look outward for satisfaction, recognition and the sense of worthiness.
When we become overly vigilant, watchful of our every movement, critical of all decisions, we are training our psyche to always doubt itself, and become disconnected from its instincts.
Using carrot and stick, all we get are more inner battles, self-doubts, unexpected outbursts.
An alternative here would be to offer loving presence and allow our body, mind, and soul to work together and find their way.
If we are brave enough to take our hands off the controlling wheel, we might be pleasantly surprised by how dust always settles after a storm, and that everything would eventually find their set point, and equilibrium, just as nature intended.
This is not non-action or ridding ourselves of responsibility.
It is about taking a wise stance with our actions.
If our body gives us negative feedback, we may express our confidence in its ability to find its way back.
If our psyche offers us an extreme emotion, we can sit back and listen to what it has to say, with the knowledge that we are infinitely much more vast than this one moment — we are the sky, and the emotion is the cloud; we are the parent, and the sensation is a child.
Built into our nature is a self- organizing, self-correcting mechanism.
The elements inside of us have always known how to breathe itself, operate itself, and integrate broken pieces.
They know exactly what to do, if only we could keep our hands off interference.
There is no mistake, no failure, no delays, no detours.
Things that seem to be in discord on one level may be harmonious on a higher level.
What seems out of sorts right now might be what is needed when looked back at in the long run.
Maybe we do need those vices for as long as we need them.
Maybe without those negative patterns, bad relationships, numbness, escaping devices, we would have fallen into a destructive and fatal alternative.
Maybe that conflict with our partner is exactly what we both need, for a future that we could not yet foresee.
No matter what emerges, do not slip into blame and control.
If we do not trust our body, psyche, and spirit, we make them untrustworthy.
If we deny the truths of our soul, they eventually learn to silence themselves.
If we want trustworthy allies, we ought to learn to trust our inner nature — our most spontaneous, organic self — and become an astute observer of how our body-mind-spirit are manifesting themselves.
Then, we would have created a loving environment that would allow our elements to flourish…
… in the most natural, perfect order.
Be in this moment, then the next, then the next. Just take one conscious step at a time.
No need to look back too much, or look ahead too far.
Let us befriend our body again.
Trust our emotions again.
They are not our enemies.
“To give your sheep or cow a large spacious meadow is the way to control him.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki
Imi Lo is an award-winning mental health professional, a psychotherapist, art therapist, coach, and author of the book Emotional Intensity and Sensitivity. Her mission is to inspire intense, sensitive and gifted individuals to rise from being the ‘misfits’ to being the leaders of the world. Leaving home at a young age, Imi has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, the USA and the UK. She has been a suicide counselor, social worker, artist, mindfulness teacher, Yoga instructor, holistic healer, art therapist, psychotherapy trainer, and lecturer. She has also enjoyed an art model career, during which she toured around the world. Her work reflects her passion for the emotional and existential themes that connect people. She founded Eggshell Therapy and Coaching, where she works with intense people around the world. She also owns over a thousand Japanese comics, and eats broccoli every day.