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  • Writer's pictureClaire Spencer

Control and Separation

"The human soul expresses both stillness and movement; it is the nature of the soul to be and become. These expressions of soul belong to what I refer to as the three innate and inalienable rights: the right of being, the right of becoming (the unfolding of potential), and the right of belonging (the right to build healthy relational bonds and to experience oneself as part of a community.) When these fundamental expressions of the soul are ignored, or dishonored, relational bonds dissolve and human systems, whether families or governments, break down." - Thomas Hübl "All I want to do is make things better with the people I care about and for the people I care about. The more I do that, the more people that includes. It just gets so much simpler when I think about it that way." - Robert Metcalf The human brain is wired to solve problems. It is a source of pleasure to figure things out. The human brain is so wired to solve problems that we can give it a problem and leave it alone, and the brain will quietly work on it in the background. Many people we consider "geniuses" find their most significant insights by leaving the brain alone to do the work. Taking a nap, taking a walk in nature... instead of hammering at it with the conscious mind, we can trust that our brain will keep working even if "we" are not directing it to do so. I grew up being "pretty smart." I also had perfectionist tendencies; I was the person in a group project who, instead of collaborating, would "pick up the slack" and do as much as needed to ensure we all got an "A." For a very long time, I believed that because I can, I should. I thought I was being "good." I thought if I rescued people, I was being helpful. If I could influence their experience positively, I should. If they failed, it was also my failure. I created my isolated tower of anxiety and despair, where I was responsible for everything and could trust no one to help me. I've spoken in prior newsletters about having a core feeling of loneliness that likely drives part of my personality and acquired skills; what better career for the terminally lonely than building community? Which is why the loneliness has been so mysterious to me. Sure, there's always existential angst, the human condition, the wild experience of consciousness. And yet, despite having many connections, resources, and a generally loving life, I've felt like a bucket with holes in it - no matter how much connection I pour in, I still feel sorrow. At parties, in deep friendships, even in the arms of lovers I deeply trust and know. It wasn't until I had time to be alone that I realized how much I had been creating my loneliness. When the source of loneliness is the self, it's hard to escape. Within my subconscious fear of being abandoned lies a hard truth: I have abandoned myself, over and over, rather than risk angering or disappointing others. Which means that when I am alone, I am lost. I am not connected to myself; alone time means that my internal disconnection is so loud, emotionally, that it feels like being an untethered astronaut in space. And, within my desire to "help" others is a controlling need. "I'm not OK unless you're OK." I would love to say how wonderful, kind, and generous I am, but the truth is mixed. I struggle to "allow" others to feel sad or mad. To watch them fail or suffer, even if the failures and pain contain the information they need to grow. By being "ultimately responsible" for the world, rather than just myself, I have created my own silo. I'm not "in it together" with my team, family, or humanity - I'm somehow more special, capable, and at fault. Fundamentally, this control mechanism has meant that I am separating myself from everyone who loves me. They are allowed to be human; I am not. Learning to work with people has been one of the most surprising challenges of my adult life. Allowing myself to be part of a team, allowing myself not to be the expert on all things, has been confronting to my identity. And it has given me the practice that I needed. Practice in saying, "thank god this person is so talented at what I am not." Practice in allowing myself not to read emails on the weekend. Practice in letting go of my secret belief that if I don't do it, nobody will. Practice in allowing myself to trust others, to give myself time and space to know myself, and to trust that WE will figure it out. This has helped my loneliness. This has helped my sleep. This has helped my clarity. This has helped me feel hope in a world that feels hopelessly chaotic. Yes, I'm responsible for making things better. But I'm not SOLELY responsible. By bringing awareness to how I push it away, I have a stronger ability to create the experience of belonging, one of the great joys of being alive. Love Claire PS Here is Thomas Hübl's most recent book; if anyone is reading it or reads it, I'd love you to share your thoughts with me! Attuned by Thomas Hübl

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