Hosted by Jodi Hildebrandt
This episode is part one of a two-episode series. Listen to part 2 >
In this episode, Jodi tells a story about an out-of-control experience she had in the jungles of Guatemala, where fear and panic drove an overwhelming desire to control her experience. She explains the mechanisms of control. In next week’s episode, Jodi will explain how to surrender control.
Episode 60: Terror & Control in The Jungle (Part 1)
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Good morning and welcome to the week of June 20th, 2015. Glad you could join us this morning at ConneXions Classroom Podcast. It’s a beautiful summer day where I’m at, my part of the world. Today, we’re going to be talking about control, and how to recognize when you’re attempting to control things, and what the antidote of control is—which is surrender.
I want to illustrate these points through a story that I want to tell you.
Before we go there, I would like to share with you what we’re doing here at ConneXions Classroom Podcast. I first want to thank you. There have been thousands of people who have downloaded these podcasts, and because of your support, and your excitement about listening to the podcast, and your feedback to me, I have decided to take all these concepts and consolidate them into a book format. I need your help. This is my attempt to do some market research.
There are two things that I need from you. Those of you who are or who have listened to these podcasts and you have found that they’ve been helpful in some way or another, if you would do two different things for us. I need you to first get on the ConneXions Classroom website, www.connexionsclassroom.com and give us your email address. This will do one of several things. One, we’ll be able to keep updating you with e-mail newsletters and give you information as things are changing here at ConneXions Classroom. We want to keep you in the loop because you are the listeners that are actually keeping this thing going. You are the lifeblood of this—telling us that things that we’re talking about are things that you appreciate and things that you want more of. And so, it will keep us connected between ourselves and you.
The other thing that I need is, in writing this book I’m going to need a lot of stories to make this book come alive. A lot of feedback that I’ve received over the years is that when I tell stories, it’s really helpful because it gives examples of the principles that I’m teaching. So, I need stories from you. So, if these concepts, these principles, have enriched you and you have seen the application thereof in your lives, please write a few paragraphs and send them to me about how particular principles have affected you.
So, for example, the principle of forgiveness, the principle of codependency, or how you’ve learned to recognize control and how you’ve learned to let go of that, or recognizing what triggers you have. The triggers are helping you understand your faulty core beliefs. If you have a story, please send it to us because like I said, we want to include as many stories in this book as possible to illustrate the principles because that is the fastest way that people learn, is to actually create an image for them to experience the principle in this animated form of a storyline.
So, two things. Go online, www.connexionsclasssroom.com, it says please enter your email address. Please do that so that we can get as many email addresses as possible, and when the book comes out which I think will be probably nine months to a year, right in there—that’s the plan—we will be sending you updates as we progress along with writing this book. And obviously, when it is completed, we will let you know.
So, we need your email address and we also need personal stories of how these principles have blessed your life.
[00:07:04] What is Control?
Let’s talk about control and surrender. Let’s first define what control is. What does it mean to control?
American Heritage Dictionary says, “to exercise restraining or direct influence over” is what control means. It means to regulate, or dominate, or rule over. Control means attempting to hide, or conceal, or cover up uncomfortable emotions and thoughts that I’m experiencing as a result of living life’s experience.
So, trying to address or assuage your emotional needs by using controlling strategies such as addictions, or anger, manipulation in any form, acting like a victim, avoiding, blaming. Using those kinds of mechanisms to try to address or hide your emotional discomfort is like trying to satisfy your body’s hunger and need for nutrition by eating cake for every single meal.
So, when you eat cake it fills you up but in the short run it creates an illusion that you’re getting nutrition. In the long run, it will make you physically sick and malnourished. And your body will have complications as a result of eating that.
So, being willing to recognize what you’re doing, and being willing to recognize how uncomfortable you may be in this position of life presenting something that feels out of control—being willing to go along with that and learning how to surrender whatever that is, is a very, very difficult thing to do. Because oftentimes, the experiences that we come across in life have a nature of being out of control, and when that happens, I feel afraid. So, oftentimes, “control” is based in fear.
So, when I try to control my thoughts or my behaviors, it’s oftentimes coming from this place of a very fearful experience that I’m having. So, the objective of control is to cover things up, to exercise restraint or influence over, or to dominate. So, when I engage in controlling thoughts or controlling behaviors, it’s my attempt—though it’s futile—to compensate for how I feel or how I believe internally.
So, I might feel scared, inadequate, unworthy, bad, anxious, bored, tired, lonely. Any number of emotions I can feel, and when I feel those emotions, I don’t know how to manage those kinds of feelings at times. And sometimes, I don’t even know those feelings are present. So, my “solution” is to control them by controlling something outside of me such as another person, someone’s image of me or their opinion of me, the way someone thinks or feels about me. I can try to control by eating, by engaging in sex, by engaging in work or exercise. I mean, there are just thousands and thousands of ways that I can attempt to control my situation that I ultimately am out of control with, so that I can feel differently. That’s the whole mechanism of having an experience in life that creates an emotion and not knowing how to manage that emotion—especially when there’s fear involved.
And so, I move into something that I can control, which could be plethora of things. I can use controlling behavior to temporarily divert my attention away from the emotional uncomfortability of my experience.
We as human beings, we all do this. Every one of us does this. There’s no way to not do this unless you are willing to be conscious of what’s going on. So, it doesn’t mean that I can become so conscious that I will never control again, but what it does mean is that I can become aware and awake to such a point that when I interact with an emotion or a life experience that’s really uncomfortable, I can realize that I have a propensity because I’m human to go into controlling behaviors. And so, I can look for those things and as I start seeing myself go into the controlling behavior, I can stop and I can consciously do something different such as—big picture—surrender.
Let me give you a little bit more information about control. In an attempt to control ourselves emotionally, we can be very, very destructive in our relationships. Relationships are kind of the battle ground if you will, of how my inability to control my life experience or my emotions in my life play out. And I can really be destructive in an intimate relationship if I’m not willing, like I said, to surrender and to learn how to recognize that life is about experiencing discomfort. There’s no way to not experience discomfort. And so, as I experience it, if I’m not willing to be responsible for my discomfort, then I will attempt to control it and that’s when my relationships become injured, and wounded, and I start acting it out in that dynamic.
[10:41] A Continuum of Control
There are two ways to engage control. I can be a controller, where I live as a default position—it’s like my lifestyle. So, I’m in a constant state of emotional discomfort and this is how I “manage it”. Or I can be controlling, which is more about there’s certain circumstances that come up in my life that I don’t enjoy or I don’t want, and so in those instances, I step into controlling behavior. And then, there’s everything else in between.
So, depending on our level of consciousness and our willingness to surrender, I can either be to one extreme which is a controller, which is where I control “all the time,” that’s kind of like my lifestyle, it’s the place that I go to. Or I can be on the other end of the spectrum where there are few or rare instances that come up that I act controlling in them. And like I said, all the rest of my experiences, depending on my consciousness/my willingness, fall in between those two extremes.
So, when I feel inadequate or I feel scared—scared is a biggie. The story I’m going to tell you today is about me feeling scared and me going into a controlling position because typically, I don’t go into control. I’m kind of more interested in understanding my experiences and the feelings that I have. However, this particular experience was so traumatic for me, that I went into a very controlling position and I was there for probably a month because the fear was so intense.
[00:15:35] The Cycle of Control
I want to describe the cycle of control. And whether I’m conscious of it or not does not mean that it’s not present, it just means that I’m not aware of it.
You know, all of us are walking around with some core beliefs about ourselves. So, I can have a belief of I’m not enough, I’m unworthy, I’m unlovable, I don’t matter. And because those things are not conscious in us, we don’t really recognize that they are playing a very present role in our reactions to life’s experiences.
And the only time that we really become aware that they are so present is when we have these experiences that trigger us to engage in controlling manners, that we then—if we’re conscious—will go looking for those faulty core beliefs.
The control cycle starts off with faulty core beliefs and then I have an experience. I have an emotional experience. Having an experience includes being emotional, so they’re not separate, they’re the same. So, when I have experience, I will experience emotion. And depending on the type of meaning I put on that experience, it will be either an unpleasant emotional experience or it will be a pleasant emotional experience.
So, oftentimes, when I have emotional discomfort with the experience, that’s when I start engaging in the attempt to distract. Or another way to say that is controlling the discomfort. So, the way that I control, is I can use denial, I can use manipulation, I can blame, I can use any strategy, like anger, to distract my attention and also the people that I’m interacting with’s attention away from the emotional discomfort that I’m experiencing, because I want to stop feeling it.
This is where your addictions come in, your willingness to go into fantasy because I’m trying so hard to get away from this emotional experience. And when I do that, when I move along that continuum of I have a faulty core belief, I have an emotional experience that creates discomfort and then I engage in distraction, I will then start obsessing about whatever it is that I’ve been feeling. And I get caught in this cycle, and it goes round and round and round. And so, it’s not a wise place to go because I don’t really recognize that I’m caught in a cycle or a trap that is never ending until I become awake, aware, or someone invites me to see a larger picture of what it is that I’m doing.
[00:19:01] Terror and Control in the Jungle
Let me share with you this experience. It’s a very interesting experience. I had it when I was in my late twenties. I was invited to go to the country of Guatemala. I was working for a dentist at the time and he did some humanitarian work. He was an older gentleman and he didn’t speak Spanish and I had had some experience speaking the language of Spanish. He wanted to go and do some humanitarian work, and he didn’t want to go by himself, and so he invited me to go along.
So, I was super excited. It was an all-expense paid trip to go. Like I said, I was late twenties in graduate school. I just was thrilled to have the experience. So, we fly to Guatemala and I’m wide-eyed and just really excited about what it is that I’m going to experience, I’d never been to that part of the world before.
And so, we get there and we have a gentleman pick us up at the airport. We get into his truck and—I’ll never forget it—it was just a little tiny pick-up truck, like a Datsun. He had a couple of people in the bed of the truck. Everybody was talking, they’re quite animated, they’re in Guatemala so lots of noise and horn honking. We jump in the car, and there’s no air conditioning and it’s in the middle of the summer, and it’s super-hot.
He drives us to this village, this little town. We get out and we meet the doctor that’s there, the physician. He is the one that is responsible for the villagers—the people who live in the mountains of Guatemala. There’s just thousands of people that are living up in the jungles of Guatemala and he is responsible not only for their physical needs but also their dental needs. And so, he had invited this doctor that I went with to spend 10 days up in the jungles and work with the people and help them with their dental issues.
I had no idea what to expect. I mean, I knew we were going into the jungle. The only image I had in my mind was National Geographic and maybe watching Crocodile Dundee. But I really had no idea what to expect.
And so, the next morning, we pack up all of our stuff and we get into the same pick-up truck. It’s just a rickety old truck, it’s probably 20 plus years old. The driver does not speak any English. There’s the driver and then this dentist I’m with in the middle. Actually, he was on the side of the door and I was in the middle on this bench seat in this pick-up truck.
We’re going along and we run out of paved road and we start going up the mountain. And the mountain obviously does not have very clear road markers. And so, we’re on this dirt road and there’s pot holes. And then, the road starts disappearing or becoming faint to my view, and now we’re just driving through literally the jungle. There is no road. You can kind of faintly see that a handful of cars have been down this path but it is absolutely not a marked road.
We’re doing switchbacks up this mountain. One moment, we’re on the mountain’s edge and I’m just really grateful that I’m not on the door side of the car because we are right on the edge. And I’m just sitting there in my mind thinking—because it had just rained the night before—“I hope the mountain does not give way underneath the weight of this truck” because we were so close to the edge. And the driver is just being super-casual and just really relaxed and he’s talking, he’s looking over at me and I’m wanting to say to him, “Keep your eyes on the road!” I was just a nervous wreck. Just a nervous wreck.
And the dentist I was with, his name was Robert, he could tell that I was super-anxious. So, here I had started engaging in controlling behavior. Can you hear it? I was having an emotional experience of being in this country, which I was super excited about, but I started feeling afraid as we jumped into this truck and went from a paved road to a dirt road, from a dirt road to a nature path, from a nature path to just driving through the jungle, like dodging trees, because there was no road in front of us.
I said to the gentleman in Spanish, “Do you know where you’re going?” He’s like, “Oh, yeah. No problem.” And I said, “How can you know where you’re going? There’s no road.” He’s like, “Oh, I know where I’m going. I’ve been up here lots of times.”
I guess he had the trees marked or something. And so, it took us about an hour to an hour and a half doing these switchbacks up this mountain. And we were in the depths of the jungle. I wouldn’t have even known how to get home because there were no markers to me. There were no street signs, there was nothing. It was just jungle all the way around us and everything looked the same.
And all of a sudden, we emerged into this little village. I was like wow, he did know where he was going. And so, he starts helping us unload all of our stuff. We were quite the anomaly in this little village. I mean, we were the only car that I saw. We pulled up and the villagers started coming out saying like, who are these people? And we were the only white-skinned people amongst hundreds of Guatemalan villagers that lived in these little villages.
And so, we get out and we were to be set up in the little school house. So, they had one building and it was just like mud-cement walls. You could tell that they had just mixed mud together to form a clay and had built these walls. And then, they had metal siding that they threw up on top of the roof and then they threw rocks on top of the metal siding to hold the roof in place.
And if you step back far enough from the building, you could see that. You could see all the rocks that had been thrown up on the roof just to hold it there. So, there were cracks and gaps in between the metal siding and the clay walls of this schoolhouse. Nonetheless, we had shelter and that was really the only thing that was important.
And so, we walk into this room, there was no electricity obviously. I was so anxious. I think I would have said afraid but it wasn’t registering as fear because there wasn’t anything overtly dangerous. I just had been so taken out of my element of electricity, of running water, of taking a shower. All the amenities that many of us in the world enjoy. I was completely taken out of that experience, just kind of plucked out of it and put into an experience that I did not even know existed on this planet.
And so, because of my anxiety, I said to the man, “Please don’t forget we’re up here,” as he left. And he smiled, and he’s like, “Oh, don’t worry. I’m not going to forget. You’re fine.” And I’m like, “Okay, so you’re coming back in a week, right?”
And I was saying all this to him in Spanish, so Robert didn’t know what I was saying to him. He kind of patted me on the shoulder and he’s like, “No worries. I’ll be back.”
And so, he leaves and I will never forget the silence that I experienced for those few moments as I heard and watched him drive away from that little schoolhouse. I was just completely swallowed up by the sounds of the jungle. It was dead quiet as far as sounds of the city. And it was a silence that was very unfamiliar to me—or there were noises that were very unfamiliar, I should say. Because there were all of this wildlife that was around me that obviously I couldn’t see, but I could hear them. And then, just the stillness of being up in this jungle and being completely like I said, out of my element, and knowing no one except for Robert.
So, I went into the schoolhouse and started unloading all of our things and setting up two dental chairs. And so, all we did was we took a school chair and put it out on the porch. We had a little tiny porch and we were going to use the sunlight as light because we didn’t have any electricity.
The doctor had gotten word to the chief before we had gotten up there that we were coming and that we were there to help the people with their mouth pain. And so, people started walking up the dirt road and walking kind of into the school area. They were standing a little bit back from the school entrance, just kind of observing who we were. They were just beautiful, beautiful people. Just beautiful in the face, beautiful in the body, and they had on the characteristic Guatemalan dressing. They were just beautiful people.
And so, my anxiety started going down a bit. So, I was still having this experience but my fear was fluctuating between intense fear versus mild fear. Yet, I was always in this state of trying to control my outcomes, which I was not conscious of at the time. Now, I’m very conscious of it.
So, the people started coming up and they would tell me, I have this tooth. I’m chuckling because I was brought along to interpret their language. However, nobody told either one of us that the people up in the villages did not speak Spanish. They spoke a dialect called Kaqchikel. And I could not understand it all. It sounded like it was Navaho, it was probably the closest dialect my ear could pick up. It was a lot of guttural sounds and dropping syllables off the ends of words. There was no way in the world I was going to be able to translate.
And so, we did a lot of sign language and trying to decipher what it was that they needed. It was pretty obvious though as soon as we looked in their mouths. Their mouths were very, very decayed. And the dentist being as skilled as he was, he knew which tooth needed to be pulled. We didn’t bring any instruments to actually put fillings in teeth. All we did was extract teeth. And we extracted hundreds of teeth.
So, that’s another story for another time as far as extracting all of the teeth. I was able to participate in that experience, which was a lot of fun for me.
But the reason I’m telling you this story is because of what happened that night. So, we get done working for the day and we’d seen 30 or 40 people. And it starts becoming nightfall. And because the sun is going down, our natural is leaving and so we had to close up shop for the night.
And so, we go back into the schoolhouse and we each had a tent that we setup inside the schoolhouse and a sleeping bag. And so, I’m setting up my tent and I’m starting to hear noises in some type of a room that’s adjacent to the room that we were in.
And so, I walked outside and noticed that there was another door to a room that was connected to our room. I didn’t obviously know what it was but I could hear movement inside that room. And whatever it was, it was a good-sized animal that was making movement because of the magnitude of the noise.
But again, I didn’t know what it was and so I went back into the schoolhouse and told Robert. I’m like, “I don’t know what that is.” And he’s like, “Oh well, it’s probably… who knows? It’s fine.”
And so, I started feeling anxious again because remember, I’m inside of this room where there is no electricity and so as the sun goes down, it turns very dark in this room. We had flashlights. We’re talking and we’re making soup on a little propane stove. We had a suitcase that had some bread, and some soup, and just a little bit of food for us to sustain ourselves for a week. And then, we had our other suitcase with our clothes and equipment.
And so, around 9 or 9:30, it’s pretty pitch-black in the room and we decide to go to bed. So, he goes into his tent and I go into my tent and we say goodnight. I’m laying there in my sleeping bag on this dirt floor and I start hearing this movement. And I hear it from behind me where it’s coming from that room. And immediately, I become afraid. And I turn on my flashlight, and if you’ve ever been in a room that’s pitch-black and you just have one ray of light, it’s really anxiety producing because it’s dark everywhere else other than when you shine the light. And so, you only have this limited amount of space that you can see, but there’s things going on all around you. And so, your peripheral vision does you no good because it’s pitch-black.
And so, I turn on the light in my tent and the noise stops. I’m sitting up and I call Robert’s name, but because Robert is an older gentleman, I think he was like 78 at the time, he had his hearing aids off and so he couldn’t hear me, which created more anxiety for me. I heard this whatever-it-was crawling up the wall and I was just panicked in a way that I have never felt up to that point in my life before. And I was going into such anxiety, and fear, and worry, and threats, that I was just making my stomach sick. I heard this creature crawl up the wall and then I heard it drop on the floor. And then, I heard its body moving across the floor.
And just as I’m telling this story, I’m feeling anxiety because I can remember being back in that situation. I was in full-blown control mode. Full-blown. I was doing everything and anything to control my emotional experience because I was panicked. And all I knew was that I had a string of light from my flashlight and every time I’d turn it on, the noise would stop, the creature would stop. It just wouldn’t move.
And then, as soon as I’d turn it off, it’d move again. I did not know where it was. All I know is that it dropped into the room with us and I could not get Robert’s attention because he had turned off his hearing aids. So, I felt absolutely alone in this room, scared out of mind, with some kind of a creature that I did not know what it was, but it was big enough that I could hear it crawling up the walls and I could hear it dropping into the room.
And so, I sat there in my tent with this little tiny piece of vinyl separating me from whatever this thing was, and my mind went nuts imagining what was in the room with me. Every horror movie I’d ever seen came back to my mind of what that thing was, and I was out of control in an attempt to control my fear.
And the more that I felt out of control, the more I tried to control. And as I was trying to control, I was doing things like imagining what it was, which was making it worse because I had all these images of horror movies in my head of creatures with three heads. And then I’d say okay, stop, stop, stop, it’s got to be something rational, maybe it’s some kind of jungle animal because it was bigger than a rodent—at least it sounded bigger.
And then, I started hearing it getting into our stuff. I could hear the boxes that we had where some of our food was being ripped open. And it was just feet away from me. I’d turn on the light but I was too afraid to unzip my tent because I was on the floor with it. I sat there all night. And it would be quiet and so I wouldn’t know where it was. And then, I’d hear it moving around again, and I just prayed with everything I had that whatever it was would not come into my tent and attack me. Because there was no place for me to go, I was on the floor as it was crawling around the floor with me.
Probably up to this point of my life, I had never felt that kind of out of control panic for so long. I mean, it was hours of sitting in a spot of being completely out of control. I did not feel safe. I did not feel any trust. I was only trying to manage my fear and I was doing a poor job of that.
I heard the thing leave in the night. I heard it crawl back up the wall and leave. And so, the next morning—I think I might have fallen asleep because I do remember waking up—I unzipped the tent and went and looked at the damage, and it had gotten into all of our food and had infected all of it. It didn’t eat all of it obviously but it broke open boxes, and bags, and popped its claws or teeth into the plastic containers that we had. And so I wasn’t going to eat anything that that thing had touched. I was just too panicked.
And we were on our second day, so it wasn’t good news. Now, we did have some food that we had in a sealed suitcase, but I remember it wasn’t very much. And so, between the two of us, we were quite concerned that we were going to run out of food before the week was over, and so more anxiety.
When Robert got up and he put in his hearing aids and I told him what had happened, he’s like, “Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry. I didn’t hear you.” And I just started crying. I was so tired, and I was so scared, and so out of control, and there was no way to control it because guess what? In 12, 14 or 16 hours it was going to get dark again and that thing was going to come back. And we had no ability, we had no weapon, we had no nothing to protect ourselves.
So, that day I went to search out the chief. Some of the villagers showed me who he was and I went up and I tried to talk to him. He did speak a little bit of Spanish and so I was talking to him and I told him what happened the night before and he says, “Oh, I know what that was.” And I’m like, “What? What is it?” And he goes, “Oh, those are los ratas.” I didn’t know that word. I’m like, “Ratas? What’s a ratas?” And he starts describing it, I’m like, “A rat?” And he’s like, “Yes. Si, it’s los ratas.” I said, “Well, how big are the rats?” And he put his hands out and he described rats being the size of small cats.
And I was beside myself. I had heard so many stories about rats that when they’re hungry, they could even smell your breath and come nibble on your lips if they’re hungry enough. I mean, just these horrible stories. Who knows if it’s true or not. But here I’m up in the jungles of Guatemala with rats the size of small cats running around.
And I said, “Well, what are they doing in the schoolhouse?” And he said, “Oh, well, we have rice in the room next to the schoolhouse.” And he actually walked over and opened the door and showed me. There were just these mounds of rice, it was just left out. There was no covering for it or anything. And he said, “The rats share our food with us.”
I said to him, “This is really dangerous. You’re having these wild animals in your food supply. That’s going to make you sick.” In my attempt to explain this to him, he just smiled and put his hand on my shoulder and he said, “No, no. The rats are our friends and we respect the rats and we share our food with the rats.”
I was just blown away. He didn’t seem to be uncomfortable or worried, and I went into more control, because not only are they okay with the rats but they’re sharing their food with the rats and they see them as their friends and they respect them.
And so, I really felt out of control. I really felt unsafe. I really felt like, at some point during that trip, I thought I was going to probably die. I was so, like I said, out of what I was used to, and by the second night of not sleeping, I was completely hysterical as far as my emotions.
So, this inability to control my experience, I was trying so hard to control my experience and I was completely out of control. There was no way for me to control what was happening.
[00:44:46] Mechanisms of Control
Let me share with you some mechanisms that are present when people are trying to control.
One of the control mechanisms is avoiding. So, when I have controlling thoughts or behaviors, I act out in these handful of ways.
- I can avoid, which means I refuse to engage with life or relationships.
- I can dominate, which is acting out in aggressive, or passive aggressive, or violent, or abusive ways. I was probably doing some of that—trying to dominate the chief because I was so panicked.
- I can show up in a very silent way, like give the silent treatment. Won’t share what I’m really feeling or won’t acknowledge I’m afraid of what’s going on. Or I’m afraid of being judged or being told I’m wrong.
- I can use anger to intimidate, or threaten, or demean, or coerce.
- I can be narcissistic, which means show up in a very emotionally withdrawn way.
- I can pretend that nothing’s happening. Just kind of pretend it didn’t happen. I was definitely using some of that, pretending that things weren’t happening, just as a way to control my fear that first night.
- I can show up perfectionistic, like doing everything right and correct so that I can have the particular outcome that I want.
- I can show up entitled, which means I deserve what I want because I’m right, you’re wrong. Which I was definitely showing up entitled with the chief, like, “Are you crazy? You can’t share your food with the rats.” I mean, I know better than you.
- I can show up with expectations, expecting that things or people be or do the things that I want or think that they should. And if they don’t show up that way, then I get to control them.
- I can show up with obsessive-compulsive behavior, like repetitive thoughts or actions to create a calming feeling. I remember when I was sitting in my tent in the sleeping bag, just freaked out of my mind. I remember just kind of sitting there rocking back and forth, trying to calm myself in between my horrible, horrific thoughts of being eaten up by this three-headed monster that was going to come break in through my tent. I remember feeling so upset that I had watched any kind of scary movie because all of those images came racing back to my mind.
So, those are a handful of ways of how we can use particular mechanisms to try to control the experience that we’re having because the experience feels so out of control.
[00:47:42] The Fear and Control Cycle
Let me describe the fear and control cycle. So, fear is at the center of me trying to control. You can see now why I was so fearful. And fearful wouldn’t even be the right word. I was hysterically terrified. And depending on whatever’s causing that, whether it’s a trauma, whether it’s a past experience, whether I’m being abused, whether I’m in an experience where I really am in danger, whether I’m distorting my reality, making stories up that may or may not be the Truth. Whatever’s causing that fear, it really in that moment doesn’t matter to me what’s causing it, all I know is that I’m in it.
And so, I probably had a mixture of distorted reality but also there was real life danger there as well. There was probably a mixture between those two. And so, control, me trying to control my fear, I will go into obsessive thinking and my fear and obsession just goes round and round and round. I feel fear and so I try to control it by thinking thoughts in an obsessive way, trying to manage or trying to control what’s happening in my external world by trying to be in control in my internal world. And when that doesn’t happen and when that doesn’t work, it didn’t matter how much I was thinking, I’m safe, I’m safe, I’m safe, I still kept hearing that thing running around outside my tent.
And so, at that point, I wanted to behaviorally do something to control the situation, because I couldn’t do anything mentally to control it. But at the same time, there was nothing physically or behaviorally that I knew to do. I had no protection, I didn’t have any kind of mechanism to stop whatever that thing was from running around in the room. And so, I was completely out of control.
So, control is used to eclipse or hide any uncomfortable emotion. Fear, oftentimes, is the emotion that’s at the epicenter of many experiences, and thus we attempt to control its manifestation. So, when we feel fear, we want to control it. And as we attempt to control fear—or anything that is not comfortable—we begin to feel more out of control. Thus, the obsession comes into the picture. And the obsession comes in the picture and it’s another attempt to control the fear. But oftentimes, that’s not successful, so therefore, there’s more fear.
And so, really what we’re trying to learn how to do is surrender that fear so that we don’t just go round and round in this obsessive thought process because the Truth is, is that whatever it is that we are feeling fear around, if we’ve done all that we know how to do stop it and it still isn’t stopping, then we must learn how to surrender.
So, I’m going to stop the story right there and I’m going to make this a two-part podcast, and teach the principles of surrender. There is much more to this story. Hopefully, in the next part of it, I will give a good illustration of how to surrender the things that I was out of control with.
And so, the next four or five days that we were up there in the jungles, every night the rats would drop in to our room and run around and have access to whatever we had out that day or that night. The first night, when I realized what it was, the next night I tried to put everything that was things that we absolutely needed into our suitcases.
Now, Robert had a suitcase that was a Samsonite and so they couldn’t get through his, but my luggage which was just vinyl and cloth, they ripped to shreds. Over the next four to five nights, there was more than one rat that came into the room and so there were several of them.
I never saw them but my imagination saw them and my control went wild.
So, to be continued next week on podcast number two, teaching you how to let go of something that you cannot control, and activate the important characteristic and power of surrender.
So, between now and then, enjoy your week. Pay attention to the things that you’re trying to control, notice if what you’re feeling—and it’s typically going to have some kind of fear associated with it, not all the time but typically—that’s when the most energy gets generated, is when you have fear connected to something that you’re attempting to control. And when you can’t control it, it naturally moves into more fear, and that’s what I’m trying to help you understand how to manage.
So, between now and then, take care of yourself, stay connected. We’ll talk soon.
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