How do you cope when you feel particularly stressed or anxious? I often turn to yoga to find my center and feel calm again. A few years ago I was attending a class, it was a very tough day for me and I remember feeling quite on edge; the teacher was talking and at some point I heard her saying: “hell, is your resistance”. I felt as if time had stopped for a few seconds and I had a so called aha moment: a moment of sudden inspiration and insight, where everything becomes clear. I realised that what I had perceived as a difficult day, a difficult time, difficult circumstances, was mainly my own doing: I myself was creating tension and friction by trying to control everything and preventing things to flow naturally. In a nutshell, I was desperately trying to have everything under control because, I thought, I was feeling anxious; whereas actually, I was feeling anxious because I was stressing myself out by wanting to be in the driver’s seat all the time. That’ not possible, that’s not sustainable. When we try that hard, our behaviours create resistance in relationships as well as in many life situations. Can you relate to that?
I am choosing to talk about control today because it’s a topic that often comes up in the sessions with my clients and I know that many of us are struggling with it. We deceive ourself thinking that we can be in charge but, think about it, that’s just an illusion: we may think that we are in control, but we aren’t, really, and that’s why we still feel so anxious. We try to prevent any form of unpredictability, but that only makes us feel more stressed when, inevitably, something unexpected happens. What about you, do you find yourself wanting to be in charge all the time? Do you crave predicting the outcome of different situations? Do you always want to be informed of every little details? Do you struggle with delegating? If so, how do you feel about all of this? Chances are you feel exhausted! And how does this impact on your relationships? When we try to be in control all the time, we lack the trust that things will unfold in a good way for us. We also lack the trust in other people, that they are also capable of dealing with a certain situation: we question their judgement and we pass on a feeling of mistrust. How do you think this makes other people feel?
Gabriel Cortese, ‘Cloud Gazer’, 2022, oil on canvas.
The alternative option is to live a more fluid life. But how? Let’s begin by raising awareness: we are all different and the way or the circumstances where I exert control can be different from yours. I suggest that you take a small object that can fit in your pocket, like a rubber, a pencil or a feather maybe – anything you like. That, will become you control stick: a tool to support you in becoming more aware of when and with whom you feel the need to be in control. On a practical level, take that object out of your pocket every time you feel the need of being in control; you can keep it in your hand or put it on your desk, just make sure you can notice it when it’s out. And then you collect your data: how often is it out? In which circumstances and with whom? Why do I feel the need to be in charge in those situations, how do they make me feel? Do I want to control an external situation, or am I trying to control myself and my own emotions? Can I try to behave any differently, can I try to put my stick back into my pocket and see what happens? This is how you start shifting towards a less controlling and anxious existence; with time and trust, change will happen.
The image above is a painting that I recently saw at my sister’s – Camilla Moresi – art gallery, where the last exhibition was titled “Fluid Suns”. When I saw it, I thought about all of this straight away, and I felt a sense of relief and peace watching the paintings. I have now stopped creating so much resistance in my life and I was able to abandon myself into the fluidity of the brushstrokes. Here’s the link to see the paintings, if you like https://g-art-en.space/fluid-suns/. I suggest that you notice how you feel watching this exhibition. You can also pick one painting to guide you into this inner journey and you may as well meditate on it – that’s what I did with ‘Cloud Gazer’ and I found it profoundly meaningful.
I hope that this will help you experience the peace that comes from releasing and letting go.