There’s such a need for control
over our lives. We have to make this much money by the end of the month.
Our kids have to do what we want them to do. This label means this, and this
person has this label. We can’t be too cold, or everything will just go to
Hell. She can’t sleep with anyone but me; otherwise I will just bounce
off the walls. We cannot feel that
way, or else we must be crazy. We have to do this. We have to do that.
As you might have figured, complaining is a fairly natural extension of the control-mindset. When you complain there is a sense of not having control. Verbalizing your discontent is an attempt to either regain an extent of control or simply a way of lashing out—a mostly involuntary response, perhaps. But the squeaky wheel does get the grease, doesn’t it?
Well, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on what sorts of resources the driver can access and how he perceives that squeaking. He might apply the kind of grease the wheel didn’t really want. Or, even worse: to the driver it might be a major annoyance, and instead of letting the wheel indulge in grease he replaces it. Ooh, backfired. So much for controlling your reality, eh?
Not only that, but it’s possible that the only wheel in need of grease is the squeaky one. No one said that the quiet wheels were defunct or anything. Of course, it is possible that they are: some people keep most of their thoughts to themselves, even if they feel like they are dying on the inside and just wish someone would listen and understand (totally don’t know anyone like that).
As different as the squeakers and the silent ones may seem, there’s a fair chance they have the same problem: neither can accept their reality as it is. Both have given up, to an extent, responsibility in the creation of their world. Perhaps what they have created are tight and elaborate structures of how things “should” be.
This might take the form of a closed romantic relationship, in which your partner can only talk to a handful of designated people for so long before things start to look threatening. Any interaction with the opposite sex is met with an explosion of paranoia, and if your partner sleeps with anyone else everything you know and have built up will be in shambles. You can’t imagine what you would do if that were to happen. It is the event you dread most.
And yet, one day, she decides to leave. She tells you she can’t live with a control freak anymore. All those years of struggle, strife, and tension to make things be just so… Now the very thing you were trying to prevent has come to pass. Not only that, but you barely enjoyed your relationship because you were constantly manic about exactly what thoughts your partner might be thinking and doing when you aren’t around. Your efforts were all for naught.
These aren’t just the freaks and creeps and supposed mentally ill I’m talking about here, folks. These are typical, everyday, “normal” people who approach life in this way. I know because I see plenty of them do this, and I am one of them.
I’m not saying that everyone is a jerk in their relationships, because they aren’t. I didn’t say that guy beat his girlfriend or anything. I didn’t mention observable actions at all. On the outside this guy could be the sweetest, funniest, most polite person on the planet. He might give apples to children for free because he knows candy is bad. He might have liberated India from the British Empire (although he probably didn’t). I’m just telling you what goes on in his mind, and what’s going on in his mind is making for a very difficult time. He is probably constantly distressed. He might have torn himself an ulcer by now.
But that’s okay, because he looks like a regular ol’ guy just like the rest of us. Nothin’ to worry about here. If it gets bad enough maybe we can give him some medication to make it all better. For now, we can just laugh- perhaps through closed teeth- and go home.
Mere Human Logic
A potent form of trying to control your reality is categorizing. Putting things- whether objects or ideas- into groups may be the hallmark of the human intellect. It’s what we do best. We categorize different living organisms by domain-kingdom-phylum-class-order-family-genus-species. We categorize diseases as being mental or physical (though the lines are blurry), and from there we have groups of developmental disorders and personality disorders and mood disorders and whatnot. We categorize people by friend or foe, familiar or foreign, fresh or freaky, naughty or nice.
Categorizing is essentially labelling. What these labels mean exactly matters a lot. It’s possible that entire debates and misunderstandings are caused by the differences in how each party defines a label- even if they are unaware of this issue themselves.
Arguably, your whole reality may be a function of the labels you use. You don’t label anything “out there”- rather, a definition is set up in your mind, and it is topped off with a label. Then everything outside you merely reflects the labels you carry around. You can’t, in truth, label anything but yourself. That’s all there is to label.
Reality alters itself to be accurate according to your labels; it’s not the other way around.
Based on that idea we can say a lot about control. So you create your reality. Maybe this concept is new to you. You might be thinking, “If I create my reality then why does so much of it suck?” It’s a good question- I’ll give ya that.
You see, a lot of the creating you do happens subconsciously- that is, outside the scope of your intentions. You are not aware of every mental and emotional process happening within you at every moment: our minds are simply not capable of this extreme information-processing feat. There’s a good chance, then, you are creating something that is unfavorable to you; pretty much everyone does to an extent.
What we do is that we create labels, or categories, based on what we observe. Our observations include everything- what we’ve read, what people tell us, what we see, what we think, and so on. We make conclusions about anything by bringing together separate observations we’ve had. We then use this series of observations- the conclusion- to provide meaning to our future observations. This meaning arises from the simple label, the result of the conclusion. You now create your reality based on this label, as well as other labels you have. Of course, again, much of this creation takes place subconsciously.
Now, you probably are aware that “label” has pretty negative connotations. Many of us think that labelling other people is arbitrary, unfair, and inaccurate. Just think of stereotypes to understand the evils of labelling.
I do agree that labelling usually doesn’t serve us well, whether we are the labeler or the one being labelled. However, I’m not sure that we can’t not do this. The use of language basically entails labelling. A word is a label. We need labels to communicate effectively- to have any chance in hell of understanding each other. The only way to stop using labels is to stop using words (good luck with that).
Regardless of this, still think about how “evil” many labels are. Think of how people are stigmatized and how entire wars are fought over labels (these rocks are valuable- therefore we must fight you to the death to have them). Certainly you have some trouble-making labels yourself. Maybe you think that a certain person in your life is negative, and thus you shouldn’t talk to them. Then your mutual friends also become negative, and hey, so are your parents – and while we’re at it, the whole darned college is negative too. I should probably just drop out. This place is holdin’ me back, man.
So what is it that you (and totally not I) have done here? Well, you’ve used a certain label which has a certain meaning for you. This label represents something which frustrates you- something which you are definitely not thankful for. Something you curse. Now you want what this label represents to be removed from your reality.
Error! Message: Cannot uncreate reality!
Whoa, chill out, computer! I’m just trying to take control of my reality! What the heck does that mean?
Well, baffled human, “uncreate”- or rather, “uncreation”- is the folly of control. It means that you are attempting to invalidate something that is valid. Everything that exists is valid for the very reason of its existence. In your mad desire to control, however, you forget this. You want to uncreate your creations. You are like the artist who breaks down at the sight of his “horrid” paintings on the wall. Yes, he can destroy them, and this creates something new. He can tear down every terrible thing he has ever created. What does he have now? Well, he has a pile of ashes (or shards of paintings based on his method of destruction). But, he may not have very different feelings for long.
When you wish to uncreate something you are telling reality that something is wrong with it. Look around and you will see countless people who think something is wrong with reality. People live on the streets, animals are thrown on to the streets, kids lick the streets where the animals have been… This world is a mess! Why should we not try to uncreate this mess and change the world for the better?
Well, hey, who are you to say that anything is wrong with reality? You created it, so by extension that means something is also wrong with you. In addition, people don’t respond particularly well when you tell them something is wrong with them, and quite frankly reality doesn’t either. It doesn’t punish you in any explicit form, such as by raining hellfire down on you; rather, it merely reflects your belief in its wrongness.
And that, my friends, is how you suffer (probably. Maybe).
Do you see the futility of control yet?
Creating in Scarcity
I’m not telling you here to bathe yourself in all the negativity of your creation. Sometimes we do need to get away and take a breath of fresh air. Our environment plays a huge role in whether we progress or regress.
You do have to understand, however, that the nature of this environment, positive or negative, arises from the labels you have used to create it. If you want something different, you have to create something different. You can’t just slash a big red “X” through poverty or homelessness or war.
It doesn’t help a ton to submerge yourself in these things- that is, in negativity- either. If you become a case manager to help homeless people and you continually complain about how horrible homelessness and how there simply are not enough resources out there to solve this problem, you’re going to create more of the same (i.e. homelessness). You’re just perpetuating scarcity.
Scarcity is not the lack of creation; it is creation. Typically, however, it is not a conscious act of creation. If it was, people would enjoy it! But if you take a look at starvation and poverty, well, evidently they do not.
Of course, being a creation scarcity is as futile as anything else to uncreate. Sometimes scarcity can be alleviated not by changing anything objectively, but rather by simply turning your attention to what you already have and appreciating it.
It’s unbelievable how much you have when you take time to think about it—and this thinking need not take long. Plus, it is easier to create constructively from this place of appreciation than it is from the frustration of lack anyway.
Of course, if you’re starving, for instance, I know you still will be starving with this mindset shift, and this shift can be difficult if you have been struggling for a long time. I guess it can be a place to start though, eh?
You may even need to appreciate the scarcity itself. Maybe it has something to teach you. The lack carves in you a deeper capacity for the appreciation of abundance. Abundance is tough to see with no background of scarcity against it. I’ve never experienced financial lack, for instance, but I still can appreciate having plenty of food to eat because there was a time when I ate little. Had I never undergone that I might not feel so grateful for each meal, since I’ve never had any trouble accessing food (I merely turned away from that access).
What can you do if you’re deep in struggle with no apparent way out? I think there is always at least one solution, whatever it may be. It doesn’t have to be a well-paying job or even money itself. If something comes up that could potentially be a solution but it’s not the one you hoped and dreamed for, don’t knock it down immediately. It doesn’t have to be that particular lifestyle that you’ve been wanting. A lot of times we don’t know what we want until it is presented to us. This is the magic and mystery of life (or at least some of it).
Do assess, however, whether it’s what you really want. You don’t have to accept any help you can get just because you’ve hit rock bottom. They still have self-determination and consciousness down there. I like to imagine that the best solutions are often those you come up with on your own, rather than caving into what everyone else tells you to do.
Maybe you’re wracked by mental illness and half your social circle wants you hospitalized, while a quarter wants you medicated (and the other quarter runs away). Now, I know that the supposed mentally ill typically do not decide well for themselves but, hey… I wrote everyone off and went with the Kim-solution on this one. Didn’t it turn out just grand? I’m still alive, though whether I’m kickin’ is another question. At the least, it appears that I can press keys. This is good.
Ultimately, it might do you well to accept your lack of control over the situation. Even if it is something more within your control than, say, living in a warzone, beating yourself up about how you should’ve seen this coming or you should do something about it (that you may not want to) that you’re failing to do will not win you progress. What is self-defeatism but self-defeat? It might do better to just say, Hey, this is where I am right now. I can’t change the fact that I’ve gotten to this point. When I stop denying and instead accept what has happened, it may then be easier to move on. Who knows.
Just as with the scarcity mindset shift, the acceptance of the situation may not put food in your belly right away, but it may better empower you to come up with solutions. Objective control (control over the external world) may be totally absent from your hands, but from within yourself you can always be powerful. Accept your lack of control and you may sooner step into your true power: the power to tap into inspiration, and the power to choose.
To return to those of us on the outside of the situation, it’s not that helping people in need is bad in itself. It’s when we try to help people from our disempowering labels and beliefs that we become ineffective. Going straight to the macro-level to make systematic and objective changes doesn’t always seem to work, and it is for this very reason. There is no attempt to change meaning- no attempt to change consciousness- so what happens? The effort collapses on itself. Things stay the same because we have stayed the same. We are still creating with the same labels.
To summarize, the problem with control is that it rejects and thus attempts to uncreate what we have already created. Control is civil war, autoimmune disease, suicide. It is a slight to oneself. It is, perhaps, a rejection of consciousness. It is a rejection of our humanness, which lies in our ability to create.
The Call to Power
There is something better than control, however, which unfortunately is a negative label in the eyes of many. It is a something which is often mistaken for control. This something is power.
Man, I love power these days. To have power is simply to understand that you have 100% responsibility for what arises/is created in your reality, and to act in accordance with that understanding.
If I want a good world then I have to create a good world. It’s my responsibility to do so. I can’t put the task on the “powers” that be and hope they do the creating for me. I’ll probably have to wait through at least five more lifetimes before that one works. If I want to see a different creation it is within my power and my responsibility to do so.
But I can’t outright destroy, destroy, destroy what’s already here. Destruction usually has pretty negative connotations, for one thing. Plus, if I go out and take a sledgehammer to every college in America because I want to reform the education system, you know what will happen? People will rebuild these institutions, and life within them will go on exactly as before. You forgot to change the consciousness, you wingnut!
Okay, but how can I create when all this other stuff is already taking up so much space? Who’s going to listen to me when everyone has all their attention elsewhere?
Well, you can put your attention there, smarty. You count as a person. You’re just as valid as the rest of us. Your consciousness is the only one you can really change anyway; it’s the only one you have access to. And, you know, if what you create really is so super awesome, other people might just bring their attention there, too. Just because there are other things in their lives doesn’t mean they can’t pay you any mind. They might not be too fond of what they give most of their attention to. But now they see this sparkling of awesomeness all of a sudden and they think, Whoa! Look at that! I gotta get me some of that too! Inspired to action, they begin creating- consciously, that is. Then someone sees this new creator and says, Hey, look at this guy! That’s cool! I want to try that too! Now he starts creating some awesomeness, and it goes on and on and on.
For these creators there may be a bit of so-called destruction. Odds are that their old lives will collapse around them. After a few years- or even a few months- they may lose all their friends, all their old streams of income (e.g. their job), their house, and their families may even stop talking to them. But did the creators deliberately destruct their old lives? Most likely they quit their jobs so as to reclaim their energy and creativity for themselves. But I doubt that they blew off everything else all at once. They very well might have, but I don’t think it’s totally necessary (but, hey, sometimes it is).
They may have been too focused on creating tasty newness to do so anyway. They’ve gotten more of what they have put their attention on and have lost some of what they haven’t- that’s all. They probably didn’t need to hold a protest to purge all the “negative” influences out of their lives. Instead, these things just fell away to the change of positive and empowering creations. No deliberate uncreation was needed.
And they did this all without pulling out the sledgehammers. ;)
(Written on 4 December 2014)