Practices From the Inside Out: When Things Spin Out of Control

Practices From the Inside Out: When Things Spin Out of Control July 14, 2018

When Things Spin Out of Control

It can be easy to feel like the world and our lives on it are spinning out of control.

So much I was taught to believe as a child has crumbled and disappeared. We may feel like the truths on which our lives were built have proven to be false.

I was born into a black and white world, a world divided between good and evil. It was easy to understand who was a friend and who was an enemy. We were convinced we knew who we could trust and who was risky.

It was important to work hard and be dependable. We were taught to be polite and respectful. There were times and places to be loud and playful, others to be silent. We were told hard work and playing fair was rewarded.

Now many different shades of grey fill the world. Many of us struggle just to hold things together for one more day.

The standards we thought we believed in are falling away. The world no longer works the way we thought it did. Everything appears to be spinning out of control.

Some of us spend our days trying to hold things together. It is easy for us to feel we are losing ground, accomplishing nothing. We lose perspective and we lose hope as we feel defeated again and again.

Everything we have worked so hard to put together and sustain seems to be gone.
We long for answers to our questions, to find wisdom and feel reassured. Where will we turn?

If so much we depended on has already fallen away, what will be next? Were the values we were taught all so wrong? What is there left for us to believe? How will we live the rest of our lives?

Are Things Spinning Out of Control?

We may see life spinning out of control because we believe what we have been taught.

Some of us feel things are spinning out of control because we believe we have everything organized. We like to think we have a place for everything and everything in its place.

Our experience of the world depends on how we see our place in it. We see ourselves as having built a solid understanding of how things work. There are things we have accomplished, things we have learned. We have found people who love us and people we love. Our experience in the world has shaped our expectations of what will come next.

It may feel to us like life is moving faster than we expected. We may start feeling left behind. Will we be able to become and experience everything we wanted? As we are moving so fast will we run out of time?

I was taught the safe way to cross the street when I was a child. The safe way was to stop, look both ways, and listen before starting across. We were taught to be safe by staying in the crosswalk and only crossing when there was a walk light.

I see life spinning out of control when so many people do not know how to cross the street. People wander across anywhere without really paying attention. They may be on their phones or carrying on a conversation. Drivers apparently no longer understand how safe crosswalks and walk lights are supposed to be.

It is as if I can see the world spin out of control before my eyes each time I take a walk.

We feel a little dizzy whenever the world fails to meet our expectations.

Where is Spiritual Life When Things Spin Out of Control?

Many of us expect spiritual life to comfort us when we think the world is spinning out of control. We believe spiritual life is our refuge, our help and support when we are in trouble.

I believe spiritual life helps us deal with life when we feel it spinning out of control. Spiritual life often, though, does not help us in the ways we expect.

We like to think spiritual life puts things in their right order. When we feel life is spinning out of control we expect spiritual life to give us a boost so we can make things right. It is almost as if spiritual life is like a strong vitamin or a hidden super power we can call on when we need it.

My experience of spiritual life is different. Often spiritual life works in me to help me see the beauty of life beyond my control.

One weakness of life I can control is it gets boring. Spiritual life exists to spin us around and get things moving.

Another weakness of life under my control is it can be lonely. Feeling like I have life figured out is a strong sign I need someone to help me see the beauty in its messiness.

The Beauty of Things Spinning Out of Control

Knowing what to expect from other people, and ourselves, can make life safer and more comfortable. Having a clear understanding of how the world works helps us live in it.

The challenge for us is not to be afraid when things seem to be spinning out of control. Our expectations are neither rules nor the minimum standards of civilized behavior.

People who do not share our expectations are not deliberately violating them. They may not even know what we expect or why we expect it.

We may feel the world is spinning faster and faster until it is out of control. Every day can be filled with changes we do not understand. We may be afraid we are being left behind.

Today’s world may be incredibly different from the one in which we were raised. It is likely to be even more different tomorrow.

The beauty of things spinning out of control is seeing them in new ways.

What is spinning out of control for you today?

Where will we find the beauty of things spinning out of control this week?

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Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is, and his email address is

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