A Lesson in Helplessness - or Weather BasicsBy Nancy Swisher
December 31, 2006
Learn about letting go of control where you have no control, acknowledging what you are truly helpless over, and taking care of yourself in the face of helplessness over others and outcomes.
As those of you in New England know, we have been having some crazy weather: rain instead of snow; wind storms; flood warnings; some snow, of course; ice, sleet, freezing rain, even some lightning! All in January! And yes, the sun does shine too. However, it's been the challenging weather that has taught me a few new things about learning to feel helplessness and moving out of trying to control - one of the very important maneuvers of consciousness that practicing Inner Bonding is so helpful with.
A few days ago, on a sunny clear day, I lost my telephone dial tone. At my house, there is no cell phone service so I have to drive off my mountain to get a signal. I called Verizon and they said it would be three days before they could restore service. Okay, at this point, feelings of helplessness began to seep in. I assured my Inner Child that we were fine and took the action I needed to take to go to a friend's house for my phone sessions with clients and to check my email.
A day after I lost my phone, it rained in Massachusetts - they said if the rain had been snow it would have been 30 inches! Lots of rain. The sump pump in my basement (which is also common in New England) kicked in around 10 a.m. and soon began pumping constantly. In other words, as soon as the pump area filled and emptied out the pipe in the side of the house, the pumping began again. I sat at my computer working, listening to the sump pump and practiced focusing on my work, not images of water in the basement. As I worked, I kept reassuring my Child that everything was fine!
Next: High wind warning! The wind increased my feelings of helplessness. If the wind caused the power to go out, the basement would definitely flood. Although it's not a very frequent occurrence for the power to go off, it does happen because I live in the woods. At this point, my Inner Child was feeling very anxious. I had an unusual amount of business work to do on this particular day and needed to focus and stay in action. The anxiety was hooked up with the actual helplessness - the helplessness was real. The anxiety was from the past because as a child, when we are helpless, the feeling can be very frightening. Thus, the need to distinguish for our Inner Child the present reality from the past.
I had to keep checking in with my Inner Child so that she knew that the helplessness over the weather was not the same as our helplessness as a child. I needed to keep letting her know that we were fine! I had to discipline my mind to stop focusing on the sump pump, the wind, and the ever increasing "river" of water in my back yard. That part of my mind - the little Sentry who looks out for danger all the time (for that was her job as a child) wanted to stare out the window and do nothing! I had to set boundaries with her - not let her choose how we spent our time. My Adult knew that the rain wouldn't be anything actually dangerous, not any more rain than we had had many times. However, the chance of losing power was my main concern. I had to make some plans around what to do if that happened because the basement would begin to flood.
I was able to stay very focused throughout the day on the work I had to do because I didn't ignore my child's anxiety and kept setting boundaries with my Sentry-self - that part of me who kept unconsciously saying really scary things to my Child. So by the end of the day, the rain had stopped, the sump pump slowed down, and the high wind warning was over. I still had power! "Nothing bad" had happened. AND, I had a very productive day!
Many of us, as children, did experience bad things. It is so easy for that kind of old fear to get activated with ordinary circumstances that we literally have no control over, such as the weather. I like to practice using days like this one as a way to deepen my connection to my feeling Child - letting her know that there is an Adult present and that the actual feeling of helplessness is not life-threatening. Not only that, it's possible to ask Spirit to take the helplessness and replace it with peace, or joy, or love.
A few days after this very intense day, the temperature was thirty degrees colder (around 20) and sure enough we had another high wind warning. I was invited to a party that evening for the launching of a literary magazine as one of their contributors. My Sentry-self wanted to stay home in case the power went out. My Inner Child wanted to go to the party! I went to the party, and hoped the power didn't go off. My concern now, rather than getting water in the basement, was having no heat over night!
As I was leaving the party (a bit early I admit) I heard myself tell a friend, "I have to go home and make sure the power doesn't go off!" The key words here are "make sure" I suddenly laughed - catching myself still thinking that somehow I could prevent the power from going off. I had a good laugh! I realized in that moment the level of control that is inside. This was a wonderful lesson for me! I had been so pleased with how the most challenging day had turned out. That I could stay focused on my business rather than the possible challenges the weather posed. But still, my little Sentry lives on - thinking she can control the utility service because she wants to protect from feeling helpless.
We don't ever "get rid of" the part of ourselves that is afraid, that part that looks out "for danger". The part who learned to be afraid - for very good reason. But I think it's wonderful to observe that part of ourselves, and to have the opportunity to choose differently - to not obsess, control, stay anxious, get fearful, panic, etc. It is essential to learn to feel helplessness in order to heal the part of us that is addicted to control.
I invite you to look in your own life to see where you think you have control when you actually don't in order to avoid feeling helplessness. Is it with a person? Your children? Your partner? Your boss? I invite you to consciously feel your helplessness over people and situations. We New Englanders have the advantage of the weather as a teacher. Ha Ha!
Nancy Swisher is a Certified Inner Bonding facilitator with offices in western MA. She also conducts phone sessions with clients across the country. She can be reached at 413-655-0102 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The paradox of our wounded self is that it wants to feel safe so it tries in so many ways to control that which it cannot control, which leads to feeling anxious and unsafe. Surrendering to what is and opening to spiritual guidance creates the peace that will never come from trying to control.
By Dr. Margaret Paul