Storytime. I have this crazy neighbor. (Doesn’t everybody?)
She is always up in everybody’s business. She has a bazilliondy plants on the patio (most of them dead). And she has interesting methods for trying to control everything that everyone who lives here or visits here does.
The other day, I came home to find a note taped up on the gate: “FED EX!!!! STOP THROWING BOXES OVER THE GATE!!! YOU ARE BREAKING THINGS!!!!!” I chuckled, because of course FedEx never throws *our* boxes over the gate (we provide them with the code, duh).
Out in the alley, another of her notes reads: “STOP PUTTING UNRINSED RECYCLING IN THE BLUE BIN! YOU ARE CONTAMINATING ALL THE REST OF THE RECYCLING!!!!!” It is taped to the wall next to the garage with what looks to be half a roll of clear packing tape.
The cherry on top last week was hearing her screeching at the movers who were staging a condo in the adjacent building: “WHO IS IN CHARGE?!? WHERE IS YOUR BOSS?!? YOU ARE STUFFING ALL THE PACKING MATERIALS INTO *OUR* BINS!!! THEY DO NOT PICK UP UNTIL TUESDAY!!! YOU TAKE ALL THAT PACKING BACK IN THE TRUCK!!! YOU GO GET IT!! WHERE IS YOUR BOSS?!? I’M CALLING THE NUMBER ON YOUR MOVING VAN!!!” and into her apartment she swirled, a big ol’ BLAMMO of the screendoor behind her.
I took a breath, told my amygdala, “We’re safe” (something I routinely do when I can feel the stress hormones dumping into my nervous system), and leaned into my word for 2019: discovery. I looked at what I could discover about this extreme emotion I was observing, happening so close to the space in which I’m meant to feel safest (home sweet home).
“I wonder what her hobbies would be if she could relinquish control…” I mused.
And then I realized, she HAS no control. She has the illusion of control. The note to FedEx? It does not change the way the drivers treat her packages. In fact, all sorts of delivery folks have a longstanding feud with her because of how she yells at them about where they park and how they hip-check her plants and such.
The note in the alley about the rules of recycling? No one who already doesn’t care enough to “get it right” is changing their behavior because of her all-caps, heavy-exclamation-pointed sign. And for sure, those movers from the staging service didn’t dig packing materials *out* of our bins to take back on their truck before they called it a day.
The illusion of control. That’s what she has. And she puts a lot of energy into it. When something doesn’t go her way, we can *all* hear her — on the phone with someone who apparently loves to hear her stories — shrieking out all the details of the story currently outraging her. Every time she tells it, the details growing in their extremes.
When anyone in our building opens their door, she is WHIPPING open her door to look to see who it is and what’s happening, what’s going on, who’s coming and going. It’s… a lot of energy. And for what?
The illusion of control.
So of course, as often happens when I toy with ideas about human behavior and how we’re wired and what makes us tick, I thought of you. I thought about the emails, calls, DMs I receive from creative storytellers asking me for help. For advice. For attention. It varies. But it’s always some search for the illusion of control.
If I do enough postcarding, it’ll make a difference. If I do enough workshopping, it’ll make a difference. If I do enough social media posting, it’ll make a difference.
In a career — and life — where so very little is 100% within our control, ever… this is a lot of energy tied up in things in ways that may not bring that much joy to the here and now. It’s as if we feel there’s got to be some secret formula of JUST the right stuff, when done JUST the right way, in JUST the right order… that’ll make all the difference in the world.
But here’s what’s amazing: When we surrender to the fact that most of the type of control we seek is an illusion — and then stop the power struggle related to trying to control outcomes ever — there is SO MUCH SPACE freed up that there is suddenly room for magical things to happen.
We actually get more of what we want in life when we’re not so damn attached to HOW it comes to us.
When we deconstruct feelings of what we deserve or of whether we’re worthy or of how it should look or on what timeline it should happen and just focus our energy on enjoying the ride, oh holy cats do things get really, really awesome!
When we achieve a resting state of OKAY-NO-MATTER-WHAT-HAPPENS-ness (AKA enoughness), it’s as though whatever was blocking the steady stream of our desires gets knocked loose and it all comes flowing forth to us.
I’d love to jam about this during today’s livestream and you’re more than welcome to join in the fun LIVE (at Facebook, YouTube, or Periscope and/or Twitter). Take your pick of platforms and hop on at 12pm PDT Tuesday and we’ll chat about how exploring what we want in life in a whole new way actually makes those WANTS more of our reality… and fast!
Can’t wait to “see” you!
’til then, stay ninja!