Bert’s therapy: The do-over

(If you’re new to Monkeytraps, Steve is a therapist who specializes in control issues, and Bert is his control-addicted inner monkey.

“Bert’s therapy” is the session-by-session saga of a control addict trying to learn alternatives to controlling.)

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So this New Year’s I tried an experiment.  I resolved to make no resolutions.

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How come?

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You convinced me I’m a control addict.  I figured this would be a good way to practice surrender.    

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How’s it going?

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Guess.

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Just another resolution you couldn’t keep?

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Yup.

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And now you feel like a failure.  Again.

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Exactly.  What’d I do wrong?    

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Just what addicts do: tried to control something you can’t control.  In this case, a feeling.  

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My anxiety about the future.

 

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Right.  You tried to make it go away by filling the future with goals and planning.  Didn’t work, right?

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No.  What do I do now?

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Learn from it.  That’s what relapses are good for, to teach you something.

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Like what?

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What’s the most obvious lesson here?

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I have unrealistic expectations of myself.

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Good.  That’s a crucial one.

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And my next step?

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A do-over.

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Like in stickball? 

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Right.  Like when cars interrupt play.

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I can do that?

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There’s no other way to recover.  Recovery is just one do-over after another.    

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It is?

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Sure.  We can’t avoid relapses.  We can only keep giving ourselves second chances to learn from them.

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That feels better than calling myself a failure. 

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And one more thing.  This is crucial too. 

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What?

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Lose the hat.

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 * * *

Want more?

The beginnings and endings of all human undertakings are untidy.

~ John Galsworthy

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Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.

~ Henry Ford

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Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried something new.

~ Albert Einstein

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Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

~ Marcus Aurelius

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Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

~Theodore Roosevelt

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I call a do-over.

~ Charlie Brown

 

 

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4 responses to “Bert’s therapy: The do-over

  • releasing_lunacy (@ReleasingLunacy)

    “That feels better than calling myself failure.”

    I think I agree. But why is it so much easier to beat ourselves up and call ourselves failures? Does everyone do that or are there some people who just naturally think it’s time for a do-over?

    ~ rl

    p.s. I like the hat 🙂

  • Bryan

    Fucking brilliant blog! I just stumbled across it a couple of days ago and have thoroughly enjoyed seeing myself in what you explain here (in this post and so many others). I laughed at this one because I also resolved at the beginning of 2011 to not make any new resolutions. Haha. Somehow I convinced myself that if I don’t write it down it’s not a resolution. So I didn’t write anything down. But I ended up with more resolutions than ever (emotionally speaking), my inner monkey meticulously keeping track of them and my progress towards them. He went crazy because he could now create resolutions under the radar since I was lying to myself about what resolutions are. lol.

    I LOVE the idea of being addicted to control (though the addiction itself sucks ass when it’s not giving me my highs). It rings true and feels good to think about. I’ve spent the past several years on a journey of awakening to the truth that intent and motives actually matter. Not that I disregarded intent entirely before my recent spiritual/emotional/physical journey. But before I always figured I could change my intent/heart my enforcing my relentless will on the outward. Well, that approach to life failed miserably.

    So I started reading and thinking and talking about intent and control and release endlessly. My journey has taken me through sessions with life coaches and therapists and ministers, books by everyone from Eckhart Tolle to Joseph Smith, from Wayne Jacobsen to Ester Hicks, from the Bible to the Upanishads.

    Recently (the past few months), I feel like I’ve been getting closer to the heart of my issues. I realized that I have MAJOR control issues (i.e., that I’m human). What a terrifying yet comforting epiphany. So I resolved (yes, a resolution) to start the process of release in earnest. If there was anyone who was going to be able to control the control out of his life it was going to be me.

    Somewhere in my desperate attempts to release control, it dawned on me that I was addicted to control. As I looked at it more closely, I saw that my addiction and recovery bore some striking similarities to drug and alcohol addiction and recovery.

    My therapist suggested reading “Women Who Love Too Much” and “Codependent No More.” I consumed the first book and browsed through the second. Great books, but they still failed to tackle the issue of addiction to control directly. So I searched for other books on addiction and control. I couldn’t find anything that really tied the two together in a way that resonated with me until I stumbled across this blog. Fucking brilliant. I think I already mentioned that.

    • fritzfreud

      Thanks, Bryan. You made my day. 🙂

      I too looked in vain for a book that would explain (or even acknowledge) control addiction in a way I found useful. The Buddhists come closest, and some of them are wonderful. But they use different language than the one I use when thinking or trying to communicate with others.

      And language is part of the problem here. We’re so used to thinking of “control” as a solution to other problems that it takes a bit of mental work to even recognize it as a problem in itself.

      Anyway, that’s why I’m trying to write a book myself about all this. Should have something to offer within the next couple of months. Working title is “The Monkeytraps Manifesto,” and I’ll be offering it for free, to encourage blog subscriptions. Looking forward to your reaction to it.

      Thanks again for your support.

      best,
      ~ Steve

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