4-23-23 Control


Addicts may be better defined by an obsessive quest for control than by the compulsive use of a specific behavior or substance. An addiction is only a symptom of our problem. We use an addiction to mask and fog over what is really creating our feelings of unworthiness or fear; we feel we need somewhere to hide. We are trying to control by using avoidance techniques. As addicts, we try to fill a hole in ourselves that’s only imaginary; but no matter what we try to fill it with, it stays empty. Our misguided attempts to satisfy the vacuum can lead to alternate addictions. In other words, we try to fill (or control) one hole in the yard with dirt from the yard, thereby creating another hole. 

True recovery is the end of this delusional digging. We must begin to touch a deeper, more spiritual sense of ourselves and the world in order to live with reality. We must recognize what our addiction is, accept it, and face it honestly and directly.

What does it mean to “play God?” It is living under the delusion that life is somehow in our control. With enough effort, we can get life to do what we want it to. When this doesn’t happen, we may try to dull the pain of failure with booze, pills, anger, eating, TV, overwork, or any other method of numbing ourselves to reality. We feel frustrated, and may isolate or act out. We try to control things because of what we fear will happen if we don’t. The need to control is a result of being attached to a specific outcome—an outcome we’re sure is best, as if we always know what’s best for us and everyone else. In other words, “playing God” is the misguided desire for control, which is rooted in fear.

So…if our addiction is control, when we try to give up control, or we recover from our primary addiction, we may think that then we will be able to control things! But reality cannot be controlled, because there is nothing outside of reality to do the controlling. To admit your reality, to acknowledge your addiction, is the first step toward acting responsibly in accord with it. With it, not against it. You have to admit you are playing the control game to begin moving past it.

We control rightly by planning a task and then taking the time and effort to work towards that goal, knowing we can never control all the varied factors involved but doing what we feel is best. We then have the opportunity to say yes or no to reality when the final result occurs. The meeting does not go as we wished, someone does not do what we wanted them to (even after we have explained our position), the trip has to be delayed, or the pot boils over making a mess, and we are late. We can tie ourselves into a knot when we choose to not accept the reality of what has occurred if it is different from what we planned. We then have an exclusive sense of self and self-entitlement. We are saying NO to reality and we feel we’re entitled to hissy-fits because we didn’t get what we wanted when we wanted it. 

We can begin moving past our delusions of control by engaging our honesty, compassion and curiosity. We can take a breath, relax for 3 seconds and say “YES, OK…what now?” SriMati observes, “To meditate does not mean to fight with a problem. To meditate means to observe. Our responses come either from fear or love, and we can learn to recognize the difference by asking ourselves what’s our motivation. In a way, intuition tells us whether our responses are creative and intuitive, or reactive, negative and controlling. Intuition is necessary for overcoming intellectual limitation and conceptual fixation.”

Life cannot flow through a knot well, so we un-tie the knot and let the reality of acceptance and a sense of contentment flow in. When you feel knotted up, say yes, this is, and un-knot. It can take an effort sometimes, but it is well worth it.

“Because I cannot control the wind does not mean I cannot tap into its power. Just because I can’t control my life doesn’t mean I can’t live it honorably and with compassion. Living honorably and feeling compassion are two of the virtues I cultivate, which opens and enriches the world I live in and how I feel about myself. I learn to make better choices through not trying to control.”  From Recovery: The Sacred Art by Rami Shapiro

As Magellan sailed around the world, he understood he could not control the ocean. Instead, he had an intellectual understanding of how the ocean worked.  He had to be flexible, accept, and work with what presented itself to him each day of his journey.  Magellan was not able to sail in a straight line; there were currents, storms, and reefs that he had to navigate. He chose his best course of action according to what actually existed, not what he wanted to be true.

We choose which people to engage with or to avoid, what foods we eat, what activities to engage in, and what clothes to wear. If we make these choices from our spiritual, connected, intelligent Self, they should serve us well. Our healthy choices will bring about better results, but not guarantees, which we cannot expect. We make choices, we do not control.

When we fail at controlling life (which we will), we may see ourselves as “failures.” We may then try harder and fail more until our self-image becomes very negative. We may see ourselves as bad people, or judge others as bad. When we spend all our energy maintaining the illusion of control, we have none left for honesty and appreciating the simple joys in life. When we stop controlling, we discover something wonderful:  Nothing in the world changes (except our frustrations), and we are no longer responsible for anyone but ourselves. When we are fully responsible for ourselves, and can then feel the connection with all others as a real and spiritual essence of which we are an integral part, we naturally become responsible in a much larger sense. We may be able to help someone who is asking for help, and we will influence others by our example, but, have you ever tried to control or change another person? How well did that work?

We can control ourselves, as opposed to reacting and always looking for immediate gratification. First we have to find the innate sense of peace and connection within ourselves. We support ourselves by living balanced lives. We take care of ourselves; we get enough sleep and exercise, have fun, and also are disciplined about supporting our spiritual life and our healthy involvement with others. We take care of the everyday chores and duties of life with a sense of gratitude and curiosity. We stay mindful and aware of all around us and our good fortune—in pain and in joy—to be present for it all.

Do something you want to, that is fun, every day. Try something new. Grow. Make sure to enjoy the lightness of being, along with the discipline of right action, just because it is right.

Without obstacles and difficulties that can be challenging, there is no way to cultivate understanding and compassion. We have tried the suffering thing…perhaps it’s time to put that aside and instead feel the True life of which we’re all worthy. The sorrows, the joys, all of it is here, right now. Believe in yourself, in your sacred connection to life and others. Let go. Be free and see the way forward WITH life,
As it is.

 How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step
The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for
May you be well. May you be happy. May you find peace.

Heart Of Recovery web site  — fcheartofrecovery.com