We Never Knew and We’ve Never Been In Control – and It’s OK

The Coronavirus is bringing into stark view the fact that we are not in control. Which is fine, because we never have been, we just thought we were. So now what?

I bumped into a friend last weekend. He’s the MD of a business that’s already seen significant decline as a result of Coronavirus. “We just don’t know what things will be like by next Friday,” he told me. It occurred to me afterwards, of course, we don’t. We have never known. The only difference is that the shifts and changes between a “normal” Monday to Friday are relatively small. They constitute the kinds of ups and downs that we’ve come to think of as a standard week. Now the virus has exaggerated the variance, bringing it into stark view.

Confronting us with the truth that we were never in control.

What was your reaction just then?

The conceptual mind (intellect, idea of self, ego) can often hear ‘you’re not in control’ in two ways:

  1. What do you mean I’m not in control? Of course, I am! Look at all the decisions and choices I’ve made in my life. Look at all the people I’ve influenced and the changes I’ve made to circumstances around me.
  2. Phew! I’m not in control!! Thank the Lord for that!

Maybe even both will appear. Because that’s the nature of the conceptual mind. It bandies around all sorts of thoughts, most of which are opposing and contradictory to each other — and this is what we’ve been listening to. No wonder we’re confused and lost. We’ve been walking around on one of those wobbly-floor fairground attractions trying to find solid ground. Impossible!

Let’s explore responses 1. and 2.

In the presence of response no.1, we’ll experience difficulty and effort. Battling our way through life in resistance to what shows up that apparently needs taking control of. Something new that needs controlling will always appear when this is the thinking we’re believing.

With no. 2 we’ll experience a moment of calm, comfort, security and OK-ness. The relief of it! And shortly after we’ll go back to feeling uncertain and insecure.

When the mind notices that calm, comforting, secure feeling and then the return to discomfort, it thinks the nice feelings were coming from this new ‘I’m not in control’ game and it thinks great! I’ll start playing that game because it feels nicer than trying to be in control.

It looks like saying ‘I’m not in control’ is the route to security but this is a misunderstanding. There was never a causal relationship here. The conceptual mind lives to pattern-match and correlate and all it’s done is correlate ‘nice feelings’ with a new made-up belief of ‘I’m not in control’. From this belief, it now walks a different tightrope of life. ‘I’ll be OK when I stay out of control. Must not control anything!’. This leads to a denial of what’s appearing. A blase, laissez-faire attitude to life — Oh I don’t care, I’m not in control anyway.

This is no more true than the old ‘I’m in control’ game because the conceptual mind isn’t in control, and neither is it not in control. It’s just a bunch of ideas floating around in the ether of the mind. It layers a story over life of seeking and resisting. Hanging out in a misremembered past and an imagined future. Wishing and avoiding. Hoping and fearing.

The conceptual never had anything to do with life. Life happened and then it applied a storyline.

Now what?

There was information in the glimpse of calm, comfort and security. Just not the information the conceptual mind took it to be. In ignorance, the mind starts us on its addictive chase of that chase of applying the new game. But in ‘knowing’, we start to reveal the whole thing.

The glimpse is us catching sight of our innate nature.

The moment the conceptual mind goes quiet (which it does when it thinks it’s found a way to shut itself up) brilliance shines through. It’s not the idea of ‘not being in control’ that makes the nice feeling appear, it’s the absence of the voice in our heads that reveals what was always here.

The brilliance that’s always here takes the form of calm, secure, grounded, content, joyful, creative, connected, resourceful, resilient, compassionate, authentic, boundaried. Human.

Believing a conceptual mind that seeks control, certainty and ‘right answers’ is, in fact, the very activity covering up what’s being searched for. Running around, kicking up so much dust that everything gets obscured.

How do we do this?

This is a question of the conceptual mind as it always wants a ‘do’, a way to apply what’s being shared, an action to take to succeed and live life the ‘right’ way. There is nothing to do, nothing to change, there is no right way. Whatever you’re experiencing is just how it is right now. Whatever changes is what changes. It’s not the conceptual mind that will make anything change from you reading this piece.

And…

Awareness can be refocused towards the constants and away from the ever-changing:

  • Look towards what emerges naturally the moment thinking settles down.
  • Look towards the break in the clouds that allows something fresh and full of life to appear.
  • Look towards the experience that naturally arises when the clouds pass on, change shape, or when they stop looking so troublesome and in need of change in the first place.

With love, Helen

Helen Amery
Helen Ameryhttp://wildfigsolutions.co.uk/
Reconnecting leaders to their innate brilliance. Disillusionment happens when, things that we took to be true, start to look less so. People, belief systems, ways of working, societal norms. As these cracks, in reality, start to show we often look around to see what else is available to make sense of this, and these moments provide the opportunity for great change and the ability to step into a whole new and fresh experience of life. I work with disillusioned people who’ve worked hard all their lives to climb the career ladder, increase their income, who got the family and the house and the car and…then they look around and realise something’s still missing. They don’t feel more fulfilled. They don’t feel successful. They don’t feel secure. Sometimes these things have even become worse. My career has developed through commercial HR into psychology-based coaching, and now my work goes beyond psychology to the fundamental truths behind our human experience. This is the final shift in perspective that frees us from the imagined limitations we’ve gathered through life and reconnects us to our innate brilliance. It’s the direct path that other development can meander us to. From here we find fulfilment, security and a feeling of success – and we find we’re able to enjoy everything we already had, and new things, in an entirely fresh way. My business is called Wild Fig Solutions because the Wild Fig has the deepest roots in the world and I always cared about getting to the heart of what was going on. Now this work is really that as it reconnects us to our heart at the deepest level and naturally rebalances us so that we use the brilliance of our head in the way it works best. I work with clients online, in one-to-one and group coaching programmes, to help them reconnect to their innate brilliance. See my book here: Let’s Get Honest About: Work

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  1. Helen – Welcome to the BC360 family. Enjoy the respectful engagement that helps us grow as people, the encouragement from fellow writer and readers at make writing a joy, and followers who become trusted friends. You are off to a good start.

  2. Nobody wants to risk the infection or pass it on to loved ones and the isolation measures, to be respected in any case, have generally been welcomed. At the same time, however, there are also those who ask to take even stronger initiatives or, moved by fear, launch themselves into absurd “hunts for the grease”.
    In this emergency health situation, according to some, a real “state of exception” in fact, the boundary between personal freedoms and public health is decidedly blurred – the professor begins -, difficult to establish. We can say that in this situation the scales are decidedly on the side of public health with the compression of some constitutional rights.
    The more one is afraid of a danger, in this real case, which among other things is not seen but whose effects are seen when it occurs, the more the demand for further limitations of personal freedoms by the population grows (not all However). It is difficult, in a situation like this, to manage to think and think clearly, even if in my opinion it is necessary to continue to do so and, for this, the freedoms of expression, also of criticism, not only and not so much of the measures that are taken, as on why this emergency was born and how the various political systems (local, national, supranational) are facing it, must be defended and guarded

    • Thanks for commenting Aldo. I rest in the knowing that what’s happening is all that could be happening. Everyone is doing their best and making decisions based on what looks real to them, and that is all any of us can ever, and have ever, done. Stay well.

  3. Welcome to the Bizcatalyst360 family, Helen! Let us look forward to expanding the constructive network yet another notch. I am positive you will find value in the sharing and caring environment here the same as we all do.

    As regards your above article, I am much impressed by your analytical rendition. Without making any attempt to offer a critique, not even implied, I would like to mention something I read a while back:

    “Adversity is a fact of life; it can’t be controlled. What we can control, however, is the way we react to it.” Given the current situation brought on by COVID-19, our reaction is paramount to survival, not just ours alone, but also that of those depending on us.

    Thank You, With Warm Regards, and a Prayer!

    • Thank you Bharat, this really does seem like a wonderful, caring community.

      And thank you for your comment about adversity. What I’ve increasingly found through my exploration into who we really are is that we creating an experience of adversity – or not – depending on thought believed in the moment; and we aren’t even in control of our reaction. The more we let go of that idea, the more we seem to have the perfect response for this moment now. In full alignment and flow with what is.

  4. Thank you so much for the important offering of the quiet mind, the awakened witness consciousness in this essay, Helen! Having practiced meditation and mindfulness daily since August 2014 I have experienced the expansion of deep, quiet peace, an enduring grace inside my soul that I now know is always there and always mine. From this place I can respond to life-all the outer world with a greater patience, dignity, profound awareness, and gratitude. This serves me greatly as the noise and confusion of changing outer circumstances rarely rock the surfboard of my inner world that continues to flow into all the nooks and crannies inside of me. I’ve done tons of practice and release of past inner junk to get to this place of adapting, to flowing, to knowing I can choose my response-the words I type, the inner world I cultivate. That is all that I’ve ever been in charge of….I choose inner dynamic equanimity no matter what goes behind me, before me, or all around me. I can ground in conscious awareness and the spiritual being I am whose having a human experience. What an exceptional experience of being alive! Flowing through all emotional content and keeping an open heart at all moments. I love the encouragement of Michael Singer in his book The Untethered Soul. Your essay and wisdom reminds me of his wise words! :)

    One of my favorite quotes: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

    Viktor E. Frankl

    Cultivating what I like calling the “inner fly on the wall” reaps many, many benefits!!!

    Welcome to BizCatalyst360!

  5. WELCOME, HELEN TO THE BC360 FAMILY! I HOPE YOU HAVE THE SAME REWARDING EXPERIENCE THAT I HAVE HAD! Let me congratulate you on your first article. The feeling of no longer being able to control our lives as we used to is very traumatizing. Nothing could have prepared us for this. Let us hope this all ends soon.

  6. Hi, Helen.
    I thank you for clarity and kindness together. From Leonard Cohen:

    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack, a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.

    Mac

  7. Amazing to see you here Helen and when I saw the title was like “if this is not Helen, I will share it with her!” Just stunning writing, as always. Thank you for sharing, is important anyway but especially right now.

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