Thoughts About Control

Major Arcana Death Card by Robin Scott

Do you want to know when I get controlling? It usually happens when I think something needs to be done "the right way." Admittedly, I've been much harder on other people than on myself in this area.

I'm better now then I used to be. When I was in my early 20's, these reactions were strong and unexamined. I can see my ancient need for control as being something I was taught, certainly. But it also fits in neatly with my Mercury in Scorpio. Mercury is the planet that rules thinking and communicating. Scorpio shows us how we control, but also how we let go.

These two are so closely related. When you're in a situation where you want to have control of the outcome, it's hard to imagine that just around the corner from you is "letting go." How do you get from A to Z? 

As someone with a lot of experience in this department, I can tell you that the first thing to recognize with control is that it is emotional. It is coming from a deep emotional place that is triggered by a need for security. 

It's interesting to me that Scorpio rules control, as Scorpio is a Fixed, Inter-personal, Water sign. Water signs rule the emotions. Fixed signs keep something going persistently, and Inter-personal signs have to do with the one-to-one relationship. Your relationship with another person. 

So control can be about the power between two people. Who has it? Control can seem like a hard thing to change the pattern around. It's fixed deep in the emotional wiring of the subconscious mind. It gets passed along from generation to generation. We learn very young who in the family is supposed to have control and who isn't. It gets grooved in the pathways of the subconscious mind. It then shows up in our relationships as adults. It begins to feel very primal. Like- this is the way it should be.

When looked at in the positive, control is empowering. It's agency. The best use of control is when it asserts, "this is what's best for me, I'm clear about that." 

The tricky thing with control is when it doesn't leave room for the other person's needs in that one-to-one relationship. Many of us have been in a situation where we felt like the other person had more control, hence, their needs were met and ours weren't. It sucks. Conversely, many of us have been in situations in which we felt we needed to control certain things; living styles, co-parenting choices, how commitments are formed or broken, how people speak to us.

For me, my control itch tends to get triggered by the smallest things. I want this pillow to be fluffed like this not that, I want people to hand me change like this and not like that. As a fairly aware person, it can be mind boggling to watch my mind do this dance about how I would like the world to move around me. My brain jumps and seizes. Sometimes my response is emotional, sometimes it isn't. I've found ways to let a lot of it go. And there is always more to work on. That's the exciting and enlivening thing about life. I can be grateful for my lessons. I can usually laugh at them now. It definitely wasn't like that when I was younger! I was to some degree a prisoner of my habitual patterns. 

I've learned a simple system to pinpoint the emotional source of my control needs and to "disarm" the emotional bomb in my brain. It's simple, but it works!

1.) Forgive yourself.

Sometimes when you are being controlling, you are kind of being a jerk. I mean, for real. So you have to forgive yourself for however you flew off the handle. This step is very important.

2.) Ask yourself, what am I feeling?

Feelings can be nebulous. Try to pinpoint your feeling by attaching a word to it. Are you sad? Frustrated? Worried? Angry?

3.) Try to find a pattern.

Do you remember a time before the age of 18 when you felt something similar? Where does this feeling live in your body? Do you remember having this feeling in your body before? What was going on then? Maybe try to write down 3 character traits of the people involved, then ask yourself - who do these people remind you of?

4.) Give yourself empathy for the feelings you are having now, and if you discovered the root of a pattern, give yourself empathy for the feelings the younger version of yourself experienced.

If you discovered a pattern that started when you were young, pull the child version of yourself up onto your lap and give them a big hug. Tell them they are safe and that everything is going to be okay. Tell them that their feelings are valid and that you, the adult, are here with them now.

This may sound like a long process, but it can be done in 2 minutes.

Hypnosis can also help to re-wire this kind of thing. Control needs are often emotional. They comes from the core belief, "I am not safe in the world." Sometimes it's linked in with "I am not worthy." The emotions that rise up can range from fear, to anxiety, to anger, to resentment. Hypnosis can help soothe the inner child who didn't feel safe. It can help create new mental patterns, linking safety with letting go. It can help communicate to your subconscious mind that all is well. That you are worthy of having your needs met.

In a hypnosis session, we co-create affirmations that turn around the ideas that aren't working for you. Often, when someone comes in to work on anxiety, we end up discussing control. Both of these things boil down to needing to feel safe in the world. Hypnosis can offer gentle soothing to the subconscious mind. It takes the heat off of old, habitual reactions. It can help you experience the freedom of "letting go."