Therapy’s for weaklings.
Veteran Monkeytraps readers
may remember that several years ago
my inner monkey Bert
went into therapy,
a process I described here
in a cartoon series.
I have resurrected that series,
and am reposting all the original
cartoons in a new blog
(Yes, Bert has waived confidentiality.)
New readers wondering
who the hell Bert is
on the page titled Start Here.
If you’d like to receive each new post
as it appears, you can subscribe
to Bert’s Therapy
at the bottom of the page.
Some obviously bright people are actually more clever than intelligent — better at defending and justifying themselves than opening up to really learn anything. Doing therapy with such people comes to feel, over time, like chewing bubble gum: lots of activity, no discernable progress.
Maybe, instead of feeling embarrassed by the truth, we should feel embarrassed by our need to hide it.
Any safety or comfort you purchase by hiding your real self is neither truly safe nor entirely comfortable.
If we’re in a dysfunctional relationship I have many ways to control you. There’s nagging, criticism and open conflict, obviously. But there’s also the sigh, the smirk, the long silence, the sulk, the raised eyebrow, the sarcastic aside, the body language that shouts Stay Away. These are powerful weapons, ways to punish you for doing or saying stuff I dislike and coerce you into falsifying yourself. It’s a kind of domestic terrorism.
The control addict’s anxiety is relieved by obtaining more control as much as the alcoholic’s thirst is quenched by drinking more alcohol.
Lie. Or at least withhold the truth. Disguise your thoughts. Hide your feelings. Never say No. Read people carefully, anticipate their reactions, then give them only what they want or can tolerate. Stay in hiding. Do this until it becomes a habit, your automatic and unconscious default position. Until no one, even those of us who want to, can spot the real you. Then sit back and bask in useless safety.
The Third Law of Control is Behind all controlling is the wish to control feelings. We assume more control will make us feel better, and that enough control means happiness. Neither assumption is true. Reality resists all attempts to control it, and reality always wins in the end. So fighting reality is tactically unwise. But most of us take a lifetime to discover that, and some of us never do.
Unsolicited advice isn’t helpful, it’s disrespectful. Constant criticism isn’t teaching, it’s disempowering. Gratuitous commentary on another’s problems isn’t friendly, it’s annoying.
I mean, who asked you?
Caretaking isn’t nurturance, it’s manipulation. Enabling isn’t support, it’s exacerbation. People-pleasing isn’t “nice,” it’s frightened. Codependency isn’t love, it’s addiction.
Healthy control is functional because it helps us get our needs met. Unhealthy control — dyscontrol – is dysfunctional because it makes getting our needs met impossible. The big challenge facing recovering control addicts is learning to tell one from the other.
The Second Law of Control is Our addiction to control causes most (maybe all) of our emotional problems. Anxiety, depression, addictions, bad relationships, broken communication — all deeply rooted in attempts to control what either can’t or shouldn’t be controlled.
Addiction is an attempt to control feelings, to change them or make them go away. So the wish for control is the mother of all addictions. And every addiction is an addiction to control.
Everybody’s addicted to something. Tell me you’re not and I’ll just assume you’re lying to yourself about it.
The First Law of Control is We are all addicted to controlling. We control constantly, compulsively, unconsciously, and even when doing it hurts us or people we care about. Which is exactly what it means to be addicted to anything.