Readers of this blog will know that I am usually puzzled by the way in which Headmind – the intellect – constantly goes wrong. Engulfing us in worry, guilt, perfectionism, do-goodery, paranoia and obsessions of various kinds. It’s a continuing mystery to me that conscious minds keep going wrong in that way.
Triggering stress, illness, burnout and breakdown.
One huge problem I notice with people who have Stress is that they are usually being driven nuts by their Internal Control Freak. Which often manifests as a semi-conscious inner voice that vetoes any activity that looks remotely like taking them out of their comfort zone. I sometimes call this freak ‘the imp on your shoulder’.
My good friend Kathleen Haden – who also happens to be a gifted practitioner of Reverse Therapy recently told me a story about one of her clients, who found a great way to silence the imp.
Kathleen’s client was working with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and her Internal Control Freak was giving her a really hard time with it’s do-nothing philosophy.
For example, it would tell her:
- It was too risky to be honest with her partner because he might leave her.
- Too scary to go back to work – she wouldn’t be able to cope.
- Not worth bothering to go for a night out in case she had a ‘relapse’.
So Kathleen instructed her to let go of ‘The Need to Know‘. Because none of us can predict what is going to happen next, and if she could let go of Headmind’s need to predict, control, and run away from, the future, she would be able to go with the flow, taking each moment, and each challenge, as it came up.
Come the next session and the client tells her:
” Kathleen….I’ve been letting go of ‘the need to know’ and my symptoms have gone!”
The client had simply been practicing Awareness – and, since she was busy keeping her attention on the Now, she had effectively sidelined her internal control freak. And when she did that she reduced stress. And when she did that her Bodymind turned off the symptoms it had been using to warn her to stop stressing out.
You can’t fight the imp, or try to argue with it (like Cognitive Therapists try to do). Nor should you try and ‘reason’ with it. For the simple reason that the Control Freak is impervious to argument. It is only interested in power.
Each time you listen to, or argue with, or obey the freak you feed it with more power. So don’t bother. Just direct your attention elsewhere. And when the imp realises you aren’t listening anymore, it will shut up.
“When a control freak loses control all you are left with is the freak.”
Anonymous British Government Minister on Gordon Brown.