Sunday, March 7, 2010

Control and the Journey So Far

Control is important.

We must all practice and strengthen behavioural control until we can keep emotional responses from resulting in behaviour that harms ourselves or others. From there, further development amounts to electives in the program. Depending on the level of influence a person desires, required control levels slide on the scale. Increased influence generally results in increased prosperity. Many people devote their lives to applying behavioural controls that permit them to meet expectations that may or may not deliver what matters to them.

I have, for the most part, achieved a level of behavioural control that lets me have an above-average level of influence when among fellow humans in the social economic environment. Without being charismatic, I still inspire serious consideration. My lifestyle is not extravagant, but I never wonder if I can pay my mortgage or buy food.

I crave significant improvements – smoothness and grace I haven’t mastered, the convenience that more money could buy.  But when I consider my energy and time, and what matters to me, I feel that I can focus on incremental improvements over time, and devote more energy to higher leverage practice.

Over a period of about ten years, I deliberately reduced the amount of energy I spent on behavioural controls through experimentation and practice.  My goal was to liberate resources and focus them on thought controls. I believed (and continue to believe) that strong, permeable and flexible thought frameworks will take me closer to merging my behaviours with my pure self, reducing the need for active behavioural control by providing effective alternative pathways for my attention and energy to flow when churned by unreasonable emotions.

I focused on things like presence, negative language, identifying assumptions and judgments, stretching my imagination, seeking myself in others and others in myself, compassion and forgiveness.  Thought control and the frameworks I built supported me to start exploration and healing at the source of unproductive thought patterns without damaging my tender self too much. Actively practicing behaviour and thought control reduced the effort required over time, like any practice will. Healing further supported me by leveling the extremity of my responses.

About five years ago, I felt I had cleared about 84.5% of my worst emotional blockages (I over-estimated). The ones left require a lot more time and energy to tackle, and they don’t get in my way very often. When I considered my energy and time, and what matters to me, I felt that I could focus on incremental improvements over time and turn my energy to higher-leverage practice.  I felt ready to mentor. I decided to have children.

Bringing my children into this life showed me that my behaviour controls may work fine in limited settings, but still need a lot of work when pushed hard. I resisted this backwards movement, resented having to redirect my resources back to basic behaviour and survival learning to meet the increased expectations. It’s just not as much fun for me, and my ego likes to think I'm beyond it. I felt pretty petulant about the whole thing. And then I chose different thinking.

I had developed my thought frameworks to the point where they were ready to support accelerated behavioural and thought learning once I decided to flow with the need. I am not the parent I want to be. But four years in, I feel that I have achieved an above-average level. I require more practice and control than I like, but when I consider my energy and time, and what matters to me, I feel it's time to turn a larger portion of my energy to higher-level practice. I feel compelled to do so for myself and the world, and these maturing humans I'm mentoring will demand it.  The problem is, the next level isn't about control.

Learning what that means may take the rest of my life.