Updated: Apr 29
One of the most valuable lesson to learn in life, is to understand what you have, and do not have control over. The conversation of control is a difficult one to have. Just using the word control in a conversation can trigger deep-rooted imprints in your life.
We are taught to desire control through social & cultural conditioning in many ways throughout life. Control is both applied by force, through trickery and frequently surrendered, sometimes without even realising.
So how does control arrive through social and cultural conditioning?
It arrives through every relationship you have ever had and likely will ever have in your life. Sometimes the application of control is subtle and sometimes it is obvious. You might be getting uncomfortable considering the depth and breadth of control that exists. However, let’s go back to the beginning and see where it all starts.
Control first begins in your life, delivered by your parents as a means of protection. Your parents believe they have your best interests in mind. They control your life at the most basic level, by providing for your complete wellbeing when you are not capable of providing it for yourself. This control is motivated by love.
The problems don't arise until you begin to exert your sense of self-control, and no longer desire them to control you fully. This push back becomes a tug of war, where you are finding your feet, and your parents are struggling to let go. Your parents are imbedded in taking care of you and don’t see you as capable of doing it for yourself.
It is not them, it is vast generations of parental conditioning and learned behaviour. We are being taught to be parents long before we even consider the option ourselves, through parental role models in our life. These are not just our parents, but all adults in our life from school teachers, to grandparents, friends parents, aunts, uncles. Control is coming from every angle, like an onslaught. For some of us as children, it feels as though a battle is being waged against us.
If you do not question the conditioning from your parents, before you become a parent, you are likely to apply the same conditioning to your children. It is a pattern that had continued unabated for thousands of years.
Think of the oldest child in your family, whether it was you or one of your siblings. Did they boss the other children around? Did they exert their control? They have been taught this first hand and are already applying it. It is scary when you start to think of how imbedded control is even in the most loving families.
Were you a rebellious teenager, like me? Did you baulk at control early on in life? Were you pushing back and trying to exert your independence? This is the battleground of control in action.
As a child and continuing into adulthood, I rebelled at control. If my mother was still alive today, she would tell you that I was born thirty years old. I still laugh thinking about this today as I write this chapter, at the age of forty-nine. I gave my parents trouble at every turn, yet even when my mother was in her seventies, she still tried to control me, that is the depth of control conditioning. A mother never stops being a mother, because apparently, that is what we disguise control in, words like mothering.
As my mum aged and become ill, she lived with me, and I took care of her for eight years, until she passed away. I had a beautiful and honest relationship with my mother. In fact, we could talk about anything. I pushed the boundaries of conditioning with her at every turn. She squirmed, she got irritated, but she loved how it helped us both to grow as human beings.
The relationship we had grew us both delightfully and ever so presently. My mother relished arguments and deep discussions. In the beginning, when I was a child, she had the upper hand in intellect and conversation. It wasn’t until I expanded, and become fully present, that I was able to overcome her arguments. She was the most challenging person I have ever known. She was a scholar at arguing. She could pull historical facts from what seemed like nowhere.
One day a beautiful thing happened when she had realised that I had overtaken her. My mother became my sounding board. She taught me resilience, kindness and love, and I taught her to listen. I can tell you, teaching my mother to listen, was one of the hardest things I ever did.
In reflection, the final years with my mum were full of valuable life lessons, for us both. She learned to soften, and I learned patience, something we both desperately needed to learn. One of the most valuable was to understand the many lessons of control.
Together my mother and I learned that we both have much more control over our own lives than we thought. Together we taught each other to let go of controlling one another and dove deep into understanding the immense power of the self-control of being present. Life became a giant playground.
I have met and worked with many people whose interactions have expanded me and forced me to extend, which I relish every time they arrive in my life. However, none have been as significant and intense as those years with my mum.
When you find someone in your life, who stretches you to explore and examine yourself and life itself with valuable lessons, don’t run away. Stay through the discomfort, feel the expansion through the suffering. This may be someone as close as your mother, it may be a random stranger, or might just as well be someone you meet by chance. Let them into your space, excuse their poor lack of delivery, and lean in closely.
Either way, the people that bring expansion, whether it be comfortable or not, bring you a valuable gift. Mindfulness can help you understand, and make the best from these gifts when they arrive.
Would like to know more, about how mindfulness can help you to escape the control trap and expand?
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Just like I did, you too can escape the control trap and expand through mindfulness. It all begins with you.