Losing control was one of my biggest fears.
Throughout my life, I aimed to maneuver precisely the ship of my destiny. This sense of control empowered me. It fueled me. And when circumstances and events were in accord of my plan, I was happy.
However, being derailed from my course brought a lot of turmoil. Often I blamed others and myself for the derailment. Self-derision was my modus operandi when something went wrong.
Going off course triggered another fear, uncertainty.
Not knowing where I was going and what was going to happen next generated a lot of anxiety within me. This explains the need for control.
I avoided meeting new people or trying out new things because the unknown scared me.
I missed out on a lot of things.
These, among other fears, paralyzed me. Ironically, my need for control and my behavior and thoughts as a result of my obsession ended up controlling me.
Here’s an example of a dialogue that played in my head:
My boss requested that I meet with him this afternoon.
This is odd. Usually his meeting requests are at least 2 weeks in advance.
I wonder if I’m getting that promotion that I worked so hard for?
For the last 2 years, I’ve busted my butt at work, and even sacrificed personal time to get a promotion.
I deserve it. I played my cards right.
But what if I’m getting fired instead??
I know there’s an economic downturn, but there’s no way I’m getting fired.
If he fires me, I’m going to lose my shit.
WTF??? What am I going to do if that happens??
I didn’t plan for this!”
My mind’s running commentaries kept my ego in the forefront. These were fear-based thoughts and they never seemed to stop. It got to a point where I was so engulfed by my egoic stories that I believed them. The stories ended up coloring how I perceived myself, others and circumstances.
This was my life before my awareness of the truth; the realization that my ego isn’t really who I am. The truth that there is something wonderful and magnificent beyond the ego waiting to be discovered.
I realized that it was my ego self who wanted the control.
Fear fuels the ego. Through fear, it becomes alive and forceful. The ego tricks us into thinking that we can actually control our life – this is illusory. This illusory thought keeps the fear real.
There is so much that is out of our control. Even our reactions and response to the external world can’t be entirely willed to our liking.
How do we break from this?
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was shocked. I thought I did the right things in order to be healthy. I ate right. I exercised. I practiced yoga and meditation.
Doing these things were my way of controlling the health and look of my body.
As you can imagine, my mind went into a tailspin when I learned the news, however, I was resolved to fight it as best as I could to complement the conventional treatments – a combination of radiation and chemotherapy.
I wasn’t going to allow the cancer to beat me. I had the mental toughness to conquer the disease and, I believed that where my mind went, my body followed.
During the course of the treatments, I lost a lot of weight and became extremely weak. I was depressed and my will to fight the disease was tested.
Towards the latter stage of treatments, I experienced my lowest low.
I was less than 100 pounds, and I got so weak that I spent a good portion of the day in bed alone with my thoughts.
My mind went into a rampage. I feared death.
As humans we all fear dying. It’s natural. But for most of us, death isn’t something that we need to face until we’re older. But at 45 years old, death swirled in my head as I got weaker and weaker each day.
At this point, I was receiving potassium and magnesium intravenously because I wasn’t retaining any food and hence any nutrition.
I could see my bones showing through my skin and my face was sunken. I didn’t recognize myself anymore whenever I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror.
I was beaten up physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It was at this point that I surrendered.
Leading up to this juncture, the content of my prayers were of healing the cancer, and for the treatments to be effective. But this time, my prayer was of surrender:
God, I surrender myself to You. Please give me the strength to handle whatever is presented before me.
Uttering those simple words was freeing. A heavy weight from my body, which I didn’t realize I was carrying, instantly lifted. My mind felt lighter and was less dense with thoughts. It was almost still.
As a response to my prayer I heard the words: Trust in the process. These words weren’t something that I thought, meaning, they didn’t come from my mind. Instead they came from beyond my mind, somewhere deeper.
I cried and cried and cried.
This was when I realized that there is something much more powerful and magnificent beyond my physical body and my mind.
This moment also revealed to me that I haven’t allowed the Universe to help me on my journey. Instead, I let my ego and my mind steer the course of my path.
Subsequently, I came across this sage advice of trusting in the Universe, through the books I read, on TV and on the Internet. It was validation that I needed to surrender and allow the Universe to shine through.
By surrendering I leaned less on my ego, and handed over control to the Universe. I was no longer afraid of uncertainty. I was no longer afraid of death.
My fears abated.
My healing began.