Control Patterns discussion with Chiara Rossetti

MBR: "Hello, this is Marion Badenoch Rose (MBR) and Chiara Rossetti, (CR), and recently we've been having a discussion about control patterns.  Below is the first part of our discussion:

Chiara, in response to my article "Two ways of responding to our child's control patterns - Seeing the reflection; and Finding the sweet spot," at  http://www.parentingwithpresence.net/index.php?pageid=4591
you wrote on FaceBook,

"Thanks Mazzie...been thinking lots about C.P.s and their evolution and how to remain present when they pop up(for me and the kids)....seeing what the underlying message is telling me and what I can do to help shift from fear and supression to love and trust......I have such deep respect for human beings and compassion for the painful feelings which are being being 'controlled' with the C.P.......I have found that one cannot just stop the C.P. or it pops up elsewhere and louder!!!!.........so much to say."

I totally agree with what you said on FB, Chiara, that if we just stop the control pattern without doing anything else, it simply pops up elsewhere and louder.  The way I've been thinking about this lately is the power of listening and stillness.... that listening to what happens when we don't go with the control pattern is what brings us closer to ourselves.  I've also been thinking about the need to replace the control pattern with something that we do want, like connecting to ourselves or to nature, rather than just taking it away without an intention for what we do with the space it leaves. 

I'd love to hear more about seeing what the underlying message of a control pattern is telling you.  Do you have an example to help me understand more?"

CR: "Yes, Marion.  I have so much to say about this but will just give a few examples of how I see the C.P.s pointing specifics out for us.  A reminder that these are specific to each person and probably have different meanings at different stages.

A few weeks ago I noticed I was wondering into op-shops more than usual and often coming out with a few bits which I really didn't need at all!  I looked into why I would be doing this and what need it was meeting for me and at the same time what I was avoiding by shopping - and what would I be doing instead I tried to become much more aware of myself while I was in the shops and realised  I wasn't even enjoying the experience (as I thought I had been). 

I made a decision then and there to stop op-shopping and very proudly boasted about it to a few friends.  A few days later I found I was still wondering into shops and markets and almost convincing myself that this was different (we are amazing at justifying our choices!)  I also noticed that I replaced the old CP with a new one-preparing yummy, gourmet raw delicacies (any excuse to shop some more!)  Well, I took this as a sign to listen deeper and realised all sorts of things about what this C.P. was symbolising for me-new identities, a need for fresh hope, a boost in confidence, control over cash flow, connections to a wider community...to name a few.

After this realisation, it dawned on me that all these things could be found inside me and not on hangers in shops!  I was filling a false void with more meaningless voids.  Lots of stuff in my life was also pointing me in the same direction.  I felt a huge sigh of relief and even managed to have a giggle at myself!  All these other feelings came up for review and I also managed to see the old CP as a friend which had led me to a better version of myself!

I notice my children's C.P.s and am always curious about why they adopt certain C.P.s at different stages of their lives.  I will write examples at a later date.

I am convinced that we chose specific C.P.s for specific emotional pains.  As we become more aware of ourselves and our actions then the CP can lead us out of the need to numb ourselves. The meanings are all very personal so there is no universal one-size-fits-all (bugger!)
 
I came to this conclusion by thinking about Aware Parenting in the light of NVC.  I questioned why humans felt the need to avoid feeling emotional difficulties even as tiny infants.  Then I took my thinking a step further and wondered why different people chose different C.P.s.

I best go now before this writing about C.P.s turns into a new C.P. for me!"

MBR: "Chiara, I love reading this.  And I really resonate with what you said about saying no to the op-shopping and then finding yourself replacing it with a new control pattern.  So what I hear is, that you listened deeper to yourself and found what you were wanting.  And then you realised that those things were things that you could find in yourself rather than on hangers on shops, and that the control patterns would never really and truly give you what you were wanting.  I love what you say about the c.p. as a friend leading you to a better version of yourself. 

I had a bit of an 'a-ha' after reading what you wrote.  I noticed too, that after setting a loving limits on my computer use and shopping, that a few weeks later I was shocked to see myself eating crisps and chocolate (actually stuffing it in my mouth) without tasting or being aware whilst I was doing it.  Just like you, I'd got rid of one control pattern only to find others in their place. 

I remember what Aletha (Solter, www.awareparenting.com) says about removing a child's control pattern - that if we are not willing to listen to the feelings underlying it, then another control pattern will come. 

Then I thought about how many things can be control patterns, or not control patterns (like eating and shopping and using the computer)... and then I realised that it is about what intention we are holding when we are doing that thing.  If I am about to go on the computer, or eat, or go shopping, and my intention is connection (with myself, with what I am doing, and with who I am with) and presence, then when I am computering, eating, or shopping, I am really there, with an aliveness and awareness and appreciation.  If that type of intention is not there, then it is more likely to be a control pattern, ie. I'm not connected with myself and what is going on for me, or really sensing what I am doing, or connecting with the other. 

So it seems to me that this is a practice.  Just because I set a loving limit or am present one day, doesn't mean I will be that way the next day, unless I am intending connection and presence when I do it.  And it strikes me that this is so relevant to parenting - both in how I connect with my children (one day I might be playing with them with full presence and connection, the next day I might be playing with them and not 'there' at all). 

And I also see something similar with my kids - like Sunny has a control pattern of twiddling a mole near my neck.  He may not do this for many months, and then will start again.  Him doing it again tells me that he's upset and for some reason not expressing that.  So it's like control patterns are templates that can come back again, or can be replaced with a new control pattern. 

As I write this, it's clear to me that the key really is intention, and the intentions that pop out at me at the moment are connection and presence. And that awareness of our control patterns and our children's control patterns will keep showing us what we are intending and how much connection and presence we are in.

Chiara, how does that sound to you?  Oh, and would you be willing to say more about your conviction that we choose specific c.p.'s for specific emotional pains?  I'm intrigued!

Oh, and I've been thinking over what you said, about realising that the things that the control patterns were trying to do were actually within you.  And your comments about the specificity of c.p.'s, and I really got that sense - of listening to the c.p. and then owning that thing comes from within me.... so I was thinking about buying clothes as a search for beauty, and the antidote being seeing the beauty within, and an eating c.p. as a search for fullness or nourishment, and the antidote being sinking into the fullness that I am, or knowing the fullness that comes from simply being alive, and the nourishment that I already receive, and so on..... and I wonder if that was the kind of thing you were meaning?

C.R: Yes, you totally got my drift about the specific needs underlying the C.P.s. I found that once I realised this then I could help my kids more because their C.P.s gave me clues as to what was going on inside them (and myself).

I have also been thinking lots about externalizing control of our world with C.P.s like cleaning and sorting as opposed to the ones we turn in with on ourselves like nail biting and eating.

To be continued!!