I thought I had it all figured out. I was with a person who I called my soulmate, we were living together in a small downtown apartment in Chicago, we had a dog, I had a great job with a lot of flexibility… then things happened and my universe began to crumble. Her mom’s stage IV breast cancer from four years prior came back and spread to her brain. We were on a weekend getaway trip in Virginia Beach when we got the news, and we both immediately hauled ourselves to Colorado where her parents resided.
The very condensed story is that emotions ran high for everybody, I took care of my girlfriend’s mother at home while she worked with her father running their house cleaning business, she kept pushing me away, her and I barely spoke to one another, and I ended up getting dumped and losing my job all at once.
To this day, I am still confused over how it all happened and why.
How many of you reading this right now have been through heartbreak? It’s a devastating and confusing place to be in, isn’t it? Thoughts ramp into overdrive, emotions spiral out of control, and the people you once knew become somebody else entirely. When you’re on the receiving end, you’re left standing there feeling hopeless, trying to talk to a mannequin that doesn’t register nor empathize with your internal anguish.
OUR DESIRE FOR CONTROL
For those who have gone through a rough breakup leaving you dazed and confused, did you wish that at that moment, in your current state of mind, you could have control over a person’s emotions to “force” them to empathize with you and make them feel your pain in the hopes that they’d come back to the person you originally fell in love with? Be honest.
You’re not alone. Though I do not wish to control anybody, I’m the first to admit that I wish I could have control over being able to sway a person to see things my way and to have them feel my pain. In fact, I think we can all relate in the sense that we all want to control to some degree, especially when it feels like things are slipping out of our control, throwing us off our mapped course which we invested so much of ourselves into.
But is it really control that we seek, or is it the ability to simply penetrate through to another’s thoughts and emotions to force them to empathize with you? Perhaps influence is a better term for what we are trying to accomplish. Allow me to explain…
INFLUENCE VS CONTROL
Music tends to be a universal therapy and release through the toughest of times in life. Again, I think it’s safe to say that a majority of us have found shelter by getting lost in the songs that seem to understand us and the situation we’re going through when nobody else seems to get it.
Think back to the last time you were at a concert listening to your favorite artist. What did you feel? Adrenaline causing your hairs on your forearms to stand at your favorite rock concert, colorful euphoria at an EDM festival, or perhaps feeling a sense of comfort standing in a small, dim-lit venue full of strangers all relating to the same sad song… these are just a few examples of sensations experienced when we connect to the music.
Now let’s focus our attention to the artist on stage. Is the musician controlling our emotions? Are just just puppets with the musical artist pulling our strings… or are we simply succumbing to influence?
Science time! Music is simply composed of vibrations traveling through our airspace that we sense with our hearing and register as sound. What the musician is doing is literally altering our surrounding environment, releasing energy in the form of vibrations with the intent of eliciting a response in the form of emotion. Though at times it may feel like we are literally connected to the artist on stage through music in the form of an Avatar tail, there is no control here – simply a release of energy in the form of sound waves and a response to that energy from the crowd.
Control implies that the receiving end has no choice in the matter and is being forced into an involuntary response, or is acting under a specific set of instructions. Influence is a release of energy with the capacity to have an effect on the receiving entity. Simplified, influence is an action waiting for a voluntary reaction, while control implies forced or demanded reaction.
“IF IT’S MEANT TO BE, IT’LL BE”
For those us who have experienced heartbreak, it’s probably safe to say that a portion of us are familiar with the debilitating feeling of loving somebody who simply isn’t right for us, though we continue to find reasons to believe otherwise. Our friends and family see through it, they comfort us, and then comes the bittersweet take-home message:
“If it’s meant to be, it’ll be.”
I used to believe it was the ultimate saying for complacency and inaction – leaving things alone, putting forth no effort, and hoping things will eventually unfold in our favor. Passion sometimes gets the best of me, and I will plead guilty to preaching the “take control” mentality out of frustration for people’s lack of action… but the reality is that we cannot control outcomes, and as much as we wish to fight the Universe to get our way, we shouldn’t waste our energy fist-pounding a puzzle piece that simply doesn’t fit.
Tying back to the music example, we can only influence our environment and wait for the Universe to respond. The idea of letting go of control can be a scary one, but it’s a necessity for life to unfold. Love, like all human emotions, cannot be controlled, simply influenced. Regardless of whether we’re just going through the regular day-to-day with our partner or going through the hardest of times, all we can do is figuratively (or in some cases, literally) sing our hearts out. We must be sincere and give forth our best and most positive energy in the most effective manner to that particular individual.
After that comes the scary part… letting go and awaiting response.
TRUST IN THE UNIVERSE
I have found love to be a mysterious thing that can’t always be explained. From my experience, love happens to work best when we give forth our true self in concentrated, unfiltered doses, but learn to let go at the same time. It’s all a bit paradoxical, isn’t it? We cannot love if we do not give forth our raw self to that person in the form of vulnerability, but we also can’t force a shot of tequila on a person who favors whiskey. Controlled love is not true love, its simply manipulation – a powerful, unethical, and dishonest method of influence. The “dark arts” of influence for all you Harry Potter geeks.
Understand that human emotion is independent and unique. We can open ourselves up and tell others how we feel, but we can’t control that person’s feelings – we can only influence them with our own energy. Once we release that energy, it does us no good to dwell. Instead, we should learn to let go, move forward, and trust in the Universe. Though it may seem like your world is falling apart, understand that if you are truly meant to be, your energy will be returned. If not, it’s more than likely for good reason.
On paper, it all sounds easy. In reality, this requires a practice in vulnerability, which is terrifying… and that’s where the test of true emotional courage comes into play. It’s perfectly normal to be fearful of exposing your true feelings and laying yourself on the line because you are literally putting yourself at the mercy of the Universe, but that is the only way to uncover the truth and see who and what is truly meant for you.
“Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final”RAINER MARIA RILKE
With that said, go forth into the world and give your best each day. I am admittedly guilty of preaching that we are all in control of our destiny… but we aren’t. We are in control of our actions and the energy we give to the Universe. What we can’t control is what the Universe chooses to give back to us.
Be your genuine self. Put forth the best energy available to you at any given moment. With patience, persistence, and consistency, the right opportunities will present themselves to you, the right relationships will flourish, and all that is meant to be for you will be when the time is right.