2 + LESSON: The Desire for Control & Intensity + Re-visited
When our survival is threatened we may, by necessity, become vigilant of the thoughts, feelings, and hidden moods of those who are a risk to us. But, even after our situation changes, we may continue our psychic vigilance as a method of comforting ourselves and trying to feel safe in a challenging and unpredictable world. Unfortunately, persistent psychic vigilance creates a kind of self-imposed hypersensitivity. And when we’re hypersensitive, then we’re more susceptible to becoming overwhelmed and overstimulated, which makes the world feel more threatening, which we try to handle by increasing our vigilance, which increases our sensitivity, and so on. The Desire for Control can be a downward spiral.
But, we might at some point discover that certain types of overstimulation can be euphoric or, at least, numbing. Enter: The Desire for Intensity. The Desire for Intensity can take many forms, such as seeking attention, including negative attention, or using spiritual practices to get high, effectively blocking out difficult feelings. The Desire for Intensity can lead to a downward spiral of addiction, substance- and self-abuse.
[ 0.05.06 The Desire for Control ] “This discussion [ … ] should clarify why some of us will actively resist grounding and trance-breaking. Why we will try to convince ourselves that it is better to keep one foot in the Otherworld at all times.”
We resist grounding because closing our eyes feels less safe. We resist grounding because it’s the end of the high, the numb, the distraction, and it feels less comfortable.
So, what do the Desires for Control and Intensity have to do with Parenthood?
Becoming a parent, whether of a tiny human or a series of fantasy novels, means letting our bodies, hearts, and spirits open wide enough to let a whole universe emerge from our universe. That expansion can take us plenty past our comfort-zone and into the oh-fuck-it’s-too-late-to-turn-around-now zone. It’s natural to resist the expansion, clamping down in anticipation. And after the stretch, it’s natural to cramp, contract, and do whatever we can to try to regain control.
And after we bring forth spirit and give it life, oftentimes, we continue to be responsible for that life! Yikes! Our survival instincts now cover our off-spring as well. We have this desire to protect them at all costs. Our fear can easily turn into control.
And, of course, many of us have children and become creators long before we learn to love ourselves. So even as we draw them into our embrace, we push ourselves away, sometimes using the intensity of our love for them to do it. This idea of: “I care for you too much to care for myself,” does not serve our children, but rather, serves our desire to avoid ourselves.
You might be thinking, then, that to grow as a Parent we need to release our controlling tendencies. But, just like we’ve found the benefits and blessings in our impulse to Experiment, our use of Expectations, our tendency to Analyze, and our powerful Sensitivity—our Desires for Control & Intensity, in moderation, are healthy, necessary parts of Parenthood.
Our Desire for Control seeks to perceive and to create order, patterns, and forms. The Desire for Control, for example, is the impulse to use a calendar, and y’all know I love calendars. The Desire for Control tunes into the cycles of Sun & Moon, enjoys the predictable flow from waxing to waning, from summer to winter. The Desire for Control finds names for children, ideas, and feelings, and in relating to them always seeks meaning. The Desire for Control encourages us to use our iron influence to protect the spirits for whom we are responsible, including our own spirit.
Our Desire for Intensity seeks to perceive and to create chaos, unpredictability, and freedom. The Desire for Intensity is the impulse to try a different trail when we’re out hiking. The Desire for Intensity loves when a thunderstorm rolls in and the air feels electric and risky. The Desire for Intensity loves surprises and is willing to jump in without knowing how something will end. The Desire for Intensity says, “Let’s have a baby! Like, intentionally! Life is way too easy, I want legos and spaghettios just...everywhere!” The Desire for Intensity unshackles spirits that it touches and encourages their wild, free expression, including our own.
What we really have here in the Desire for Control is the Desire for Order, for Spirit. And in the Desire for Intensity we have the Desire for Chaos, for Soul.
So, how do we know if our Desire for Order and Chaos is healthy and not spiraling downwards, toilet-flush style, causing psychic hypersensitivity and potentially traumatizing our tender children?
Well, health and healing is about wholeness. If we want to determine whether our Desire for Control or Intensity is healthy, then we can see how it responds to its counterpart. In health, the spirit embraces soul and the soul embraces spirit, or at least, the desire to embrace is greater than the resistance. A bit of resistance is natural. Our health starts to suffer when spirit denies soul and soul avoids spirit.
For example, the Desire for Control wants to make plans, and that’s good. But if we find ourselves unable to handle it when plans change, then we may need to do some spiritwork to reacquaint spirit and soul.
We know our Desire for Intensity is getting sick when it doesn’t want to be named. It says, “Stop trying to analyze or make it meaningful.” Maybe we’re arguing constantly with our partner, but for some reason we have no desire to figure out why or look too closely at it—that’s resistance to Spirit.
Every time we do spiritwork in this course we invoke both Spirit & Soul, which encourages us to get comfortable with wholeness. But just because a practice is magical or spiritual, doesn’t mean it relies upon collaboration between our control and intensity, our spirit and soul.
For example, a controlling spiritual practice would be, drawing tarot cards each day and using the cards as confirmation of our current understanding, or as a tool for planning, and cultivating certainty. Maybe we start checking the cards before every decision we make.
How might we take a practice of reading cards for ourselves and bring in more of our capacity for change? How could we invite our Soul into this work?
As a parent and creator the pace at which we will have to make big decisions becomes relentless, and if we feel like we have to be certain of the outcome in order to decide, then we’re likely to end up crispy-fried. “Is this the pre-school that will get them into college?”
Or, for a quick example of intensity in spiritual practice, perhaps we’ve taken up ecstatic dancing. We start going to wild moving meditation events. We can feel how it stirs stuff up inside. Sometimes we even weep or have a coughing fit or other intense experiences of power moving through. We can’t wait to go back. We’d go every night if we could, but we never stop to ask what’s moving through or what’s being stirred?
How might we take a practice of ecstatic dance and bring in more work with identity, form, and meaning?
As a parent and creator we can get hooked on the hustle, being busy, the constant chaos, and forget to make time to ask why we might be hooked? Our love of clutter or our constant kitchen-counter cleaning can both be a form of avoidance, depending on what it serves.
So, let’s carry this awareness into our next topic: Spiritual Cleansing!