It has been very enriching experience reflecting on control from various perspectives; I truly believe that once we understand and we are aware, we can choose differently and have different results in our lives. In my blog Someone is ALWAYS controlling us, I shared how ingrained control is in our society and how conditioned we are to want to control. No wonder, we turn to it as our first defense as individuals as I explained in my blog Do you have an inherent Need for Control?
When control is unconscious, it is driven by fear and lack of trust. Instead of trying to force ourselves to “not control” or let go, if we work on establishing the sense of safety, the control will automatically loosen its grip on us.
I also want to acknowledge you for exercising this brilliant form of defense. Yes, you heard me right! I think control is a brilliant form of defense. Without it, we wouldn’t survive because whenever trauma occurs, the body and mind need time to heal and integrate and control provides us that chance, while we process whatever has occurred in our lives.
The problem arises when it is unconscious. When you are not aware of how you control, you will affect (and most likely hurt) people around you. If you are aware, you can stay connected with what is going on for you and communicate with others to create connection and empathy rather than distrust and discomfort.
Here is what you can do to find your sense of safety
So below are some of the strategies on how to become aware and have a choice about how to behave. These are the things that I have done myself and have helped others do as well. They are simple yet so powerful because they open the doorway to healing and becoming more aware so that you can make changes to your life.
Learn to catch yourself when you are feeling unsafe or afraid
Do you know what happens in your body when you are feeling afraid or unsafe?
Do you know the things that make you feel unsafe or afraid?
Do you know the things that trigger this sense of fear and unsafety in you?
If the answer to any of these is “no” then here is what you can do to re-establish your awareness of your sense of safety.
- Set an alarm to remind you every hour or so
- When the alarm bell rings, ask yourself if you are feeling safe or unsafe? Also, notice if you are exercising any form of control
- Scan your body and notice how it is feeling. You can do this in multiple ways. You can start from the toes and finish at the top or go in the other direction.
- Notice how you are breathing. Is your breath shallow or deep? Make a note.
- Ask yourself on what has triggered this state?
You may have to do this for a little while but very soon, you will start to establish a pattern. You will learn to connect with the sensations in your body when you are feeling safe and when you are feeling unsafe.
You will also start to see the patterns that trigger these states in you. Once you learn about these triggers, you can start to either communicate or change things so your reality starts to shift.
Stay with the feeling and keep your Resources List handy
As you start developing awareness of what makes you feel unsafe and how these states are experienced in your body, you can start to evaluate whether you are actually “unsafe”, or the feeling is triggered by your past. If the feeling is triggered by your past and the present situation is ok, you can start to remind yourself that you don’t need to turn your defense mechanism on.
If the situation allows, you can “stay” with the feeling and just see where it goes. There is such a power in presence. You will notice that as you stay with the feeling, the feeling will start to dissipate. I know it’s easier said than done but I have full faith in you that you can. Start to notice when your mind starts these “what if” scenarios and remind yourself that it’s just the story in your brain and continue to stay with the sensation.
In my blog First Steps towards the Healing Journey, I explain how you can save yourself from getting bogged down by your mind’s incessant chatter and also how to create a Resources List.
Keep your resources list handy so that you can refer to it if needed.
Allow your inner child to restore your trust
This is a very important aspect of the healing. Along with developing awareness of how your sense of safety plays out in the present, you can also start to work with your inner child to restore the trust and love, which was destroyed in your childhood. And this part doesn’t need to be very complicated. I will outline the steps for both and you can choose, which one works for you
- Take a few deep breaths and imagine yourself as a child. You could be at any age
- Now put your “adult” self in the scene and now you are ready to have a conversation with your inner child
- You can assure your inner child. You could give her/him lots of hugs. You could have a conversation and you both could just play. Whatever feels right to you, just go with you. The more love your inner child receives, the more trust you will have in your present.
If you wanted something more, then you can start to write letters to your inner child. I explain this in the blog Write an Automatic Love Letter to Your Inner Child
Both of these processes have been very powerful to me in restoring my inner sense, my trust in myself and my connection with others.
Find an outlet for control
I love this one. I get to consciously practice control and it’s so satisfying.
The point of this is that if you have been practicing control, then it’s hard to let go of the habit. Instead, you can redirect that need and find an area that you can practice control consciously.
For me, I have an incessant need to track my life so that I can go back to any time and find out what I did or how I felt etc. you can imagine that it’s quite an impossible task because life is unpredictable and I need to keep changing my strategies to maintain this tracking ability. As an example, I have all my photo albums sorted & organised by date (it took me several weeks to take all the old black and white photos and scan them but O man! it was so satisfying). I record things in my calendar, I keep a diary of what happened and I have other means by which I track my life.
It feels great to exercise my need for control in a way that is not hurting anyone and at the same time, gives me the satisfaction.
What can be your outlet for this? If you can find one, believe me, your need to control in other areas will lessen to a great degree.
I invite you to try.
Learn to communicate and share
Others around you probably have no idea what things trigger you and what does it mean for you to feel unsafe. Learn to communicate and let your family or close friends know when you are feeling unsafe. Ask for help.
As you learn to develop awareness, your ability to communicate will increase and your openness to your family and friends will allow them into your lives and be able to support you in your journey.
If you can do these things, you won’t feel alone anymore. You will know that the need for control is coming from the past and you don’t need to exercise it in all aspects of your life. As you learn to relax, your adrenalin will learn to relax too. You will find greater peace and calmness and that will create greater stability in your life…
My blessings are with you and for you. May you find love within you. May you find that inner sense of safety… and may you change your life in ways that you never thought possible
Always with Love