In an earlier post on the tarot’s Chariot card, I touched on my addiction to control and how that has impacted my physical health. I recently experienced something really significant in my journey to release control that has helped me tap into a power that, previously, I wasn’t aware existed within me.

I’ll go into some of the specifics of what I was frantically trying to control to give you context, but I also want to talk about the broader lessons, here, because I think they can be useful to anyone feeling trapped or burdened by their own control issues, regardless of how that’s manifesting in their life.

I had been a vegetarian for fifteen years and vegan for the last two of those, but after (obsessively) researching nutrition, particularly as it relates to digestion and hormonal imbalance, I eventually came to the conclusion that I needed to try reintroducing animal products into my diet to see if they made a difference in how I felt.

The reasons why I decided to start eating meat aren’t terribly relevant to this post; what is important is how I felt when contemplating the idea of abandoning veganism. In short, I was terrified. Some of the thoughts, rational and otherwise, that went through my head included:

  • I’ll get cancer, heart disease or myriad other health complications, like, immediately.
  • I’ll be reaping enough negative karma to keep me stuck for millennia.
  • I won’t be able to control myself, and soon I’ll be eating everything and anything, regardless of the health consequences.
  • People will think I’m flaky, a quitter, a hypocrite and about a dozen other “bad” things.
  • I’ll have to endure hundreds of agonizing “I knew you’d come around” or “I told you so” conversations.
  • I’ll hate myself for eating meat.

These thoughts kept me in a state of indecision for a few weeks, but then I noticed something new cropping up in my self-talk: an overabundance of thoughts related to how I was going to tell people I was no longer vegan and how they would respond. This was fascinating to me, and I began to watch these thoughts as they appeared over and over again, trying my best not to judge or analyze them at this stage–just watch and sit with them.

As these thoughts became more frequent, I began to see a theme: If I wasn’t vegan, I would no longer be able to use this as a way to feel different and–to be 100% honest–better than other people who I had judged as making less “enlightened” food choices. Needless to say, this awareness about myself didn’t make me feel all warm and cuddly inside; in fact, it felt pretty ugly. But it was the truth and ultimately what I would need to face up to if I wanted to move past these habitual thoughts.

When I began looking more deeply at these feelings of superiority, I realized how pervasive they were in my life. I began to notice that, in many ways, I needed so badly to have validation that I was okay, and I sought this validation by looking for ways that I was “better” than others. It wasn’t enough to go to yoga regularly and feel good in my body; I felt even better about it if I could look at other people who were struggling to make it to class. “See? You don’t give in to laziness; you actually make it to class,” I would say to myself.

Not surprisingly, one of the major drawbacks of this strategy was that I felt pretty isolated up in my little white tower. It’s hard to feel connected to other people when you’re focused on all the ways they come up short and “if they would only do what I do, their lives would be better” thoughts. Ew, right? I would like to think that these thoughts never came across in my communication, because I can only imagine how hurtful they might be, but I’m sure they seeped into my words and attitudes.

The other drawback? Because my “okay-ness” was dependent on other people, it was precarious as all hell. Thus, I had to constantly work harder, be smarter, do more yoga, be more restrictive with my eating choices, etc. in order to maintain my “superiority.” And as I’m sure you’ve guessed, this was really exhausting and terrible for my health due to the toll of constant stress. This is also where we get to the issue of hidden power, because maintaining all of these rigid systems for excelling at everything required a massive amount of energy that could have been spent on other pursuits.

And, perhaps just as important, there were (and likely still are–it’s certainly a process) large parts of my inner self locked away because they didn’t meet with my impossibly high standards. And contained within each of those shadowy aspects of myself was–you guessed it–more power.

In part two, I’ll talk about the process of letting go of some of this control–what it looked like, how it felt, and what happened when I did–and how this connects to releasing inner power. And I’ll also give you some ways in which to initiate this process within yourself so you can begin to tap into your own hidden power sources.