When I was young my favorite activity was creating, and performing plays with the neighborhood kids. These were plays I wrote, directed, choreographed and, of course, starred in. I enjoyed having the loudest voice, the ultimate say and most importantly, the feeling of accomplishment it created.
Yes, some thought I was bossy but at the end of the production, they were happy to have followed my lead. This lead to other power positions; Captain of the patrols, head choreographer in the drama department, student leadership…
This all changed when I diagnosed with Bipolar at age fourteen. After having many talks with the doctors about the reality of my condition along with my own investigative work in the library I became weary. The fore-warnings of turbulent cycles of emotions, unpredictable, destructive behaviors and the difficulty medical professionals had with managing it gave me very clear marching orders.
Find a way to control yourself. NOW.
My abilities for leading and creating twisted into an obsessive need to control everything. Myself, others, their perceptions of me, the environment, outcomes of situations, you name it. I went into hyper drive; editing myself before I spoke, predicting outcomes before I acted, and assessing everything before I would let anyone close to me.
You can sense the pressure I was creating for myself. Spontaneous living, creative thinking, and exploration were squashed by the stagnation of control. Eventually, I became locked up inside of myself. My ultimate ‘fix it’ method became my worst enemy; creating its own kind of stress, pressure and crazy in my life.
The tides turned years later when I was playing with energy self-help tools from Access Consciousness®. I was asked a simple yet profound question: What would occur if I let go of control?
Initially, this question scared the hell out of me. All sorts of crazy points of view came up—some that made no sense whatsoever. If I let go of control then the world would come to an end. People would hate me. My turbulent emotions would run amok and destroy my relationships. Everyone would know there was something wrong with me. I would fail. I would be judged…
It took a lot of digging but ultimately I found that these nonsensical points of view were all falsehoods. They were things that I had created out of fear; of myself, my disorder, of life… rationalizations I used to make sure I kept myself in check. And ways to hide the biggest lie of all – that I was dangerous and therefore had to be controlled.
I started to realize that I had taken up the job of being my own gatekeeper as soon I was diagnosed. Upon hearing all of the horrible predictions that come with a diagnosis like mine I had done whatever it took to make sure none of those came to fruition in my life. Am I powerful to have done so? Absolutely. Smart, resourceful and highly capable.
I started to wonder how I could use those traits to my benefit. What if my power, smarts, resourcefulness and capabilities could be used for something other than controlling myself?
Would my relationships be more authentic—not about assessing their judgments of me and whether it was safe to let them in?
Would my career take off in new directions past what I had decided was safe and easy?
Would my life become more creative and fun—like those early days of my neighborhood plays —and not be in the stagnant, stressed homeostasis that I had controlled it into?
Here are 3 insights I have found after exploring this in my own life:
1. I asked why I felt the need to control myself
Were you ever told you were too much, not good enough, that you didn’t fit in, that others didn’t like you? We carry judgments like these deep within ourselves. In order to not see ourselves in those judgments or to fix ourselves, we start to edit what we say and do in order to prove them wrong.
2. I learned to recognize the fall-out
The difficulty is you end up living your life based on other people’s judgments, perspectives and desire for you—not for yourself. Imagine the stress and pressure that is created when you have to guard against these judgments, proving them wrong and defending your worth in spite of it. This leads to inauthentic living, which is soul-crushing and keeps you from the joy of being yourself.
3. I figured out how to change it
Break free of control by starting to see that judgment isn’t real and that you don’t have to live in fear of it. Find a sense of peace with yourself—however, that looks for you—and the need to control yourself will not be necessary anymore.
Ask yourself each morning: if I was willing to let go of control what would I chose today?
Notice where you are able to better prioritize tasks, give others breathing and growing room, enjoy more relaxed down time and invite a spontaneous energy back into your day to day living.
Take it from me – control is not living. And creating a life that plays to your strengths and makes you happy is only readily accessible when you give up the obsession of control.
Look for yourself as to where you can loosen the reins and begin to enjoy the ride.
Lauren Polly, Life Coach and author of The Other Side of Bipolar, shares her own journey to help others find the life they desire without limitations. Lauren is a catalyst for people who are living their life on autopilot; she helps others shift from surviving to thriving through dynamic healing, self-empowerment, and life-changing tools in her cutting-edge classes and 1:1 coaching. She hosts a weekly radio show called, Beyond Speech, Limitless Communication, and is a Certified Access Consciousness® Facilitator, Certified Talk to the Entities® Facilitator, ASHA Certified Medical Speech-Language Pathologist, and is a registered Yoga Instructor. Lauren has shown thousands of people around the world how to engage boldly with themselves, their body, and the world to create the life they desire. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.