I have been studying astrology since the late 1980’s. It was in 1989, when my partner Steve and I stalked our guru Linda Goodman and became her personal assistants. We helped her copy edit her last published book, Gooberz. In the process Linda taught us astrology on a daily basis, either sitting around her kitchen table or at a small cafe in downtown Cripple Creek Colorado. She taught us by using our own charts. It was she who explained that I had a stellium (four planets) in Capricorn and one planet in Cancer. So all in all, I have 5 planets in Cardinal Signs which in lay terms means CONTROL.
Control issues are something I have come to know I have. As a kid I tried to control the people around me. The best descriptive word for that is BOSSY. Being bossy does not make you popular and if you are honest with yourself, it doesn’t make you very happy either. Trying to be on top of everything and everyone is exhausting and futile.
I remember in my early teens thinking that I wanted to be nicer to the people around me. I wanted to treat them with love and get that same treatment in return. I remember consciously softening my approach to people and if felt good.
But somehow I was having trouble being nice to myself and letting up on the control issues as they pertained to me. I was labeled the “perfectionist” by teachers. For a long time I thought it was a good label until I realized for me personally it actually meant “neurotic”.
Don’t misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with being thorough and wanting to create the best and be the best you can be but there is a fine line between doing your best and tearing yourself down with self criticism because the end product is never good enough. “I could have done more; I could have put more time into it; It’s not as good as theirs” These are all too familiar phrases that circulate through my head.
Linda’s advice, on having five planets in Cardinal signs, was to loosen the grip on whatever I was holding on to. I love this advice from a woman who was a quadruple Aries— another of the four Cardinal signs. She knew what she was talking about for sure.
I went through periods where I thought I was giving up some control. I thought I was mellowing out. But down deep I knew my need for or dependency on “structure/control” was still there. I had to know what was happening next or I would start to freak out.
Then there is all the praise and reinforcement for being structured and getting things done from everyone around you. “Wow, you are so efficient.” “You can get so much accomplished”
People come to expect it of you and you start to feel trapped by your own behavior. Even in my early education I felt their were intense expectations on me but nothing was as heavy as the expectations I put on myself. My internal father (Capricorn) was a tyrant and I did not have the courage or the tools to stand up to him. Somewhere along the line, I had come to expect perfection from myself. It was not imposed on me from my easy-going Libra Mom. That is for sure. My whole childhood was filled with Dottie, my mom, telling me to relax, to calm down.
My mom told a story of about a time when I was about eight years old. We were at a party. Libra’s, especially Dottie, could be very social. I kept saying, “it’s getting late Mom we should go.” After about the third or fourth time she said, “Ok Rob, will you stop being the parent here.” I looked her in the eyes and said, “Well one of has to be!” I was probably indignant and had my hands on my hips. They got a good laugh out of it. I was frustrated. She and her friends were lovely. I was just extremely uptight.
At some level I thought I was controlling my world and keeping it all together by my actions and efforts. Somehow I was keeping the Earth in it’s orbit and the stars in their right place in the sky.
Of course that was only in my head. Eventually the stress of life, my fear of everything not being perfect began to get in my way of happiness. I have been journaling since I was 14 years old. The reoccurring topic from my very first journal and still today is about seeking Inner Peace.
So much of our inner peace comes from letting go internally. We have to surrender. Surrender to ourselves. Let go of our expectations and internal demands. Ask ourself, “Is there a different way to do this, that is easier, less stressful?” “Can I be kinder to myself?”
The reality is, there is very little in our control. Very little!
We never really know what is going to happen in the next moment. We can try to control our world by shutting out everything and cocooning ourself in a small room. Besides being really boring, at some point Kali, the goddess of time, or Saturn the god of Karma and time or the Grim Reaper would get into your room and take you along with them at your appointed moment. A moment you have no control over.
You probably know the scene in the Wizard of Oz, where the wicked witch of the west rides over the emerald city and writes “Surrender Dorothy” in smoke. I keep writing “Surrender Robbo*” on inside front part of my forehead when I feel the control monster rearing its ugly head.
It is a monster because it robs us of the true joy of the moment. When we worry and seek perfection from others and ourself we are not living fully. Our culture rewards winning. But winning is not always possible. And sometimes it is in failing that we learn so much.
Take a deep breath. Let go of some of the constriction that keeps you in knots inside. You are not holding the world together single-handedly, even though it may feel that way.
Surrender! Allow yourself to be less than perfect and at the same time love yourself fully no matter how much imperfection you feel surrounds you or is inside you.
You are good, You are love. Surrender my friend. Lay in the field of wild flowers of life and relax.
(*A nickname I acquired in Greece, 1991. When my partner Steve and many friends use it, I feel deep affection. I use it here, lovingly towards myself.)
Have you lost someone or something in your life? Is your grief overwhelming and you feel like you’ll never get past it? Are you willing to entertain the belief, just for a moment, that you will get past it? If you are then in that moment I’m going to ask you to just do one thing. Recognize where you are is a just part of your journey. You know in your heart that life goes on and so will you.
If you entertain the thought that your life will go on then you can also realize that right now might be the time you need to wallow in your sorrow. Your sorrow is as much a part of your life’s journey as being happy, excited, inspired or any more positive experience. Let it be what it is… part.
Not the whole, part.
Not the end, a view point.
When you tire of the view you can and will move on.
How do you move on? Let your next step be about what you don’t do instead of what you do. It’s somewhat easier that way. As someone who is learning to live again after Jack’s death here are something things I know if you’ll stop doing you’ll actually allow yourself to move beyond where you are now.
- Stop focusing on your life without. For example there is longevity in my family and when I really am in pain I think about living the next 30 years without Jack. That’s a gut wrenching thought. If instead I shift my thoughts to having 36 great years with him the pain is less intense.
- Stop listening to music that brings you down. “See You Again” by Charlie Puth is a wonderful song that brings me to tears every time. There is an attraction to feeling the pain of this loss but changing the station helps me more.
- Stop spending time with your “misery loves company” friends or friends who want to talk about how great their life is. Instead spend time with friends who make you laugh.
It’s easy to feel the pain. It’s hard to make it stop. It’s simple to choose something that feels just a little bit better and right now that is as good as it needs to be.
With love, Cheryl
I met a lovely little dog yesterday, and her name is Sophie. Sophie is 12 years old, deaf, and just as smart and sweet as can be. When her owner picked her up, Sophie seemed to melt into her arms. Sophie was so completely content and trusting in her owner’s actions, I could actually feel it.
I then learned that Sophie had a traumatic past. Her new owner actually rescued her from near euthanization just one year before. It was such a trip to me because without knowing about her past, it seemed like Sophie and her owner had been together forever, and that Sophie hadn’t experienced one second of fear or pain.
Actually, someone had told Sophie’s owner that it takes dogs six months to forget trauma. Whether or not that’s true, I love the way that idea sparks my imagination. Here’s what’s delicious about it to me – why can’t I (or can I?) be dog-like in that way? What if I gave myself six months to grieve/be pissed/hurt about my non-preferred experiences and then move on, healed, renewed and better than ever?
In my case, I was a pro at holding on to resentment and hurt. After experiencing my own trauma as a little one, I held on to it for decades. I kept all of it secret, and my pain jumped from back burner to front burner at different times, but it always stayed with me.
I used to think that if I started to cry, I’d never stop because my pain was so deep. To me tears equaled death. However, once my choice became face the pain or die (yes, I went to the cliff’s edge), facing my pain didn’t kill me, it ultimately freed me! By facing it, I mean safely releasing my anger and hurt (with harm to none, including myself) without judgment.
It felt like I found the formula to release hurt and reconnect with my good feelings (and, by the way, this formula isn’t new, nor is it a secret). I use this formula all the time. Sometimes I “get over it” very quickly, especially when it’s a minor annoyance. And even when I give myself six months (or however much time I think I need) to get over the bigger hurts, invariably I move through them more quickly.
One time I was particularly heartbroken and I allowed my pain to just be. It was simmering inside of me. I let myself feel it without judgment. I felt a pang in my heart for months. Then one day it just bubbled to the surface. I was driving my car, and the song “Since I Fell for You” came on, and my feelings came to a head.
It felt like a dagger pierced my heart. I started crying. And crying. Then I stopped crying. And then I started crying again. I played that one song over and over again whenever I was in my car. Sometimes I would scream, other times I would cry, talk aloud and even laugh. Whatever my emotions needed to express, I let them out safely. I was “in it,” if that makes sense.
I played that one song for about a week. I immersed myself in it and just let my emotions out. All of them that had something to say – about my heartbreak, him, myself, and whatever else – got their turn.
I could literally feel the cloud over my heart lifting. My pain was diminishing and I started to feel a sense of lightness again, or perhaps I lightened up first, which, in turn, soothed my pain. Whatever it was, it happened gently and naturally. My emotions simmered down around my breakup and pretty much went away for good.
I didn’t need to play the song over and over anymore. Actually, I got sick of it. I was done grieving! From that moment on, whenever I think about that breakup, it is now simply a fact. It was an event that had occurred in my life, and now without pain attached to. Actually I was (and am) very grateful for the relationship. I keep with me what I learned, liked and disliked about it, and I continue to let it teach me more about myself. It is very, very cool.
Something tells me I’m not alone when it comes to holding on to painful experiences. Suffice to say, to transform it in six months or less for me means immersing myself in the pain (emotionally speaking) until it naturally heals. I’d still live my life while doing it. I’d still work every day, enjoy my family and friends, and allow my feelings to ebb and flow without judgment and with harm to none, including myself. I would acknowledge and embrace my unfulfilled expectations, and that’s how I break (what feels like) a spell of sadness that I’m under.
Now, when it comes to smart, sweet and trusting little Sophie and those six months, I read that because dogs totally live in the moment they don’t remember past trauma unless something happens that triggers it. I’m thinking that perhaps Sophie’s current environment is so peaceful that she is just completely chilled out. There’s no longer fear and pain, just love.
If only it were that simple for humans – to have a peaceful and trigger-less environment in order to forget all the pain. My experience is that it doesn’t happen that way… I used to find triggers regardless, even if they were only in my mind and I’d relive painful experiences over and over again.
But what if we allowed ourselves to feel the pain with the intention of getting through it rather than avoiding, judging or trying to ignore it? Why not embrace hurt and sadness, giving them some attention just as we would a more pleasant and likable aspect of ourselves? After all, they do coexist. We can feel pain alongside joy, curiosity, etc.
What if you face your pain and tell yourself the truth about how you feel about it with harm to none, including yourself? What if your triggers only summoned the memory of the event with no pain attached to it? I believe it is possible for you, and possible to live each moment, having been enriched by all of your non-preferred experiences.
At all times, I wish you Sophie’s unwavering contentment and love!