Beyond My Control. Really?

We are all in various stages of awakening to how much we create our own experiences in life.

There are lots of people who sincerely have no clue how they got to be overweight. There are those of us who blame our genetics for our experience of depression or arthritis or diabetes and so feel that our reliance on pharmaceuticals is an inevitable result of circumstances beyond our control.

But are they? Are these circumstances beyond our control? Beyond our responsibility?

Our culture cultivates in us a certain “normal” level of personal responsibility. One in which “you make me feel angry when you…” is an acceptable viewpoint. “You are responsible for my anger when you are late/angry/irresponsible/annoying as hell.”

There are other cultures that parse things out differently. While acting irresponsibly, recklessly or inconsiderately are not condoned, these actions are allowed to have their natural corrosive effect on relationships and community without the added (some might say ‘artificial’) burden of the emotional states of those affected.

Since three people might react to the same offensive action with three different emotions (anger, frustration, humor,) we can’t say that the action is the cause of the emotion. The “emoter” is always the cause of the emotions, right?

Though God knows I can’t always count myself among them, I know people who are aware enough to know that when they encounter someone or something they dislike intensely, there is valuable internal information to be found. When confronted with a loathsome person or situation, they go through a process of “owning” their emotion to see– internally– why they were triggered.

In fact, if this article is really pissing you off, that’s a good clue.

I don’t want to suggest that those who take a deeper level of responsibility for the reality they manifest are somehow morally superior, (we are all in the soup somewhere,) but I have observed that they are generally happier people.

When people feel “done to” they can experience more hopelessness, bitterness and fatalism than people who experience their tribulations as their curriculum-in-life. Edward Readicker-Henderson wrote a compelling article this month about traveling even though he’s been dying for 20 years;

“…My friend laughed at her disappearing flowers, confirming to me that the only reason to go anywhere, do anything, bother being alive at all, is to bring pleasure to those who are dear. Which is exactly why I’ve been so mad at her husband. Write that bucket list, live as if it’s your last day, and what you’re really doing is concentrating on yourself– the easiest, most logical thing to do when you are sick. And oh, I did that. I’m pretty sure that every sentence uttered in the late 1990s– the time between surgeries three and four– was subject-verb-profanity. How I made the people who love me suffer because I was lost in my anger. My days were numbered, dammit…never bothering to think it was OUR days.”

–Edward Readicker-Henderson- Cheating Death  (National Geographic Traveler, May ‘12)

The shift from feeling like the screen onto which your life is being projected, to feeling like the projector is simply one that can make you happier. Even if it doesn’t make your shitty circumstances disappear, it can have you see them as just circumstances, with both shitty and wonderful reverb in your life, which is probably somehow more true anyway.

And when you shift from being the screen to being the projector, all of a sudden, the food you eat matters a whole hell of a lot because it is what determines much of the content of this hologram you are throwing onto that screen.

Want to project frenetic chaos, stress and some mild paranoia? Eat a whoopie pie and some soda. Want to project lethargy, stuckness and pathos? Eat some deep-fried food.

Want to project vitality, growth and openness?

What are you hungry for?


Holly Noonan writes about self-nourishment and food empowerment every month in her Mind Body Nutrition Newsletter.

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