The Taos News has committed to implement a weekly column to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat, and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.
Dear Dr. Ted:
These past two years have seemed overwhelming for me with the pandemic, vaccinations, political turmoil, natural disasters, and personal losses. What I have noticed in myself and others is that there is a demand for control when events go awry or the unexpected comes rushing into our lives. What is this all about? Thanks, Aleta
I have been noticing the same thing, where the more losses that are present in your life, the more demand there is to try to control the outer world, or fight where there appears to be control upon you. It almost becomes a tug-of-war for control, which causes more chaos and less control. When you have a loss there is usually a sense of the loss of autonomy. In other words, a feeling of loss of control, with choices of action being hijacked from you.
Your first reaction will be to fight for that autonomy by trying to control the world around you. When there is internal chaos, you will have the tendency to try to control the world around you, to calm down your internal system. Anger and irritation are often felt when you feel out of control as the system is fighting for autonomy. This is the natural fight response to rebuild the perception of a safe world around you. This makes sense as if outer surroundings feel safe, then there is a higher chance you are safe.
Eckart Tolle, author and public speaker, often speaks of the "pain body," where when fear arises, the pain body is activated and searches out external irritants to try to squelch that potential danger to your well-being. The problem is as this pain body becomes hyperalert, it looks for everything and anything of potential irritation. This often leads to you trying to control the world around you. This can be healthy, such as having healthy boundaries, cleaning up your house or yard, taking better care of yourself, and other activities that are self-empowering and come from a place of conscious decision making. But there can also be unhealthy reactions to the feeling of loss of safety, in which you try to control others and demand they change in some way or manner where you do not have control and are actually trespassing into someone else’s boundaries.
Try to remain open to differences in the people around you. Take them as opportunities to learn, grow and be more mindful. Being careful to not trespass into other people’s autonomy can open an opportunity for healing for all as we navigate these trying times.
I wish you well and please stay safe. Until next week, take care.
Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat GWR@newmex.com or call at 575-776-2024. Weekly virtual grief groups, at no charge, are being offered to help support emotional well-being. Information can be accessed through goldenwillowretreat.org.