One of the most powerful and controversial spiritual laws is that our inner world mirrors our external world. It is the source of projection. When we look at this through an inner parts lens, it makes so much sense. We reject in others what we reject in ourselves. If our controller invalidates and suppresses our emotions, they will reject the emotions of others. If our freedom fighters won’t allow us to make commitments, we might judge the commitments of others. If our controller won’t allow risks, we won’t understand the risks that others take. If we reject an inner strength, we will reject it in others. If we love something about another person, we hold that strength within us. And it works in reverse. Others will project their own inner worlds onto us. And many triggers will come from relating in this way.
In my client work, we spend lots of time on the controller. And that is understandable. The controller usually provides the most obstacles in our healing journey. They have many defenses they use in their attempt to keep our emotions and memories under the surface and out of reach of our consciousness. It can take years to understand all the ways they might block us. But the key to understanding the controller is to understand who they mirror. That would be our abusers. They have taken on the abusive and denial-driven messages of our abusers from childhood. And they are repeating these messages every day, every moment. They can be hard to hear. They are largely unconscious and we have stopped noticing them. But they are there.
Of course, my clients want to know how to get rid of them. How do we stop the messages? How do we get the controller to see things differently? How do we get them to like us? How do we convince them to stop interfering in our progress toward self-love and compassion? How do we get them to stop their oppression of the other parts? We ask these questions because of the mirror. We see the controller as our abusers. And we give them too much power. We start relating to them as if they are the abusers and their power is greater than ours. We may even see their power as infinite. And we believe we are too weak to do anything about it.
But these questions are wrong. The controller will never voluntarily relinquish their power in the system. They will never consider another possibility just because we have asked them to. Remember, they are mirroring our abusers. Our abusers would have never responded to requests like this. And no matter how much we hope it isn’t true, they aren’t changing. When it comes to managing the controller, there is only one choice. We must find the “part” of us who is more powerful, more knowledgeable and more prepared to handle life’s challenges. Right now, your controller is screaming that there is no part like this. But there is. And it isn’t really a part. It is the grounded adult self, the observer self, the true self or whatever description you would like to use (not the ego self – that’s the controller). This self is only available through grounding. But from this self, we can manage the controller in an empowered way. Here are some things we can do.
- We can compassionately hear them out. We can hold space for our controller to vent and even scream at us about how wrong we are. But we need to approach this from the role of the adult self. The controller is not an adult (although they try to sound like one). And we can let them express their fears without taking action from those fears.
- We can set boundaries. The controller’s role must change. They don’t get to be in charge of everything including the other parts. They have amazing skills at getting things done, but they don’t get to make big life decisions. And they don’t get to run the recovery process.
- We can bring in balance. The controller believes everything is all or nothing, write or wrong, black and white. And you better believe they see their beliefs as the right beliefs. But we can add cooperation and flexibility to the interaction between our parts. We can bring all the voices to the table.
We can take our power back from our controller (and our abusers) by empowering ourselves to say enough is enough. We don’t have to beg them to become more supportive of our recovery journey. We don’t have to hope for them to change so we can move forward. We can step up and make change. It won’t be easy. The controller will fight us. But with an understanding of where the real power lies, we can make move forward anyway. And eventually, the controller will have to acknowledge that maybe we haven’t died from it. But don’t hold your breath.