(If you’re new to Monkeytraps, Steve is a therapist who specializes in control issues, and Bert is his control-addicted inner monkey.
That’s Bert at left, imitating the guy at right.
Steve is suggesting it might be a good idea to pause in the midst of what we’re doing to point out that we’re doing it.
What we’re doing is a series of posts examining what he calls the Big Five — the five most common problems people bring into therapy.
The Big Five are anxiety, depression, addiction, poor relationships and parenting problems.
In our last three posts I wrote about anxiety, depression and addiction from a recovering monkey’s point of view. I.e., mine. I explained how I came to see my own anxiety, depression and addictions as all rooted in my need for control.
Wait, Steve wants to add something.
Not to be picky, but I’d rather say those symptoms come from a need for dyscontrol — the dysfunctional or unhealthy form of controlling.
Explain the difference between the healthy and unhealthy forms.
Sure. One’s realistic, and the other isn’t.
Healthy controlling aims at what can and should be controlled. When I’m driving I can and should be controlling my car, for example. If my kid gets sick I can and should control the kind of medical care he receives.
But dyscontrol aims at targets that either cannot or should not be controlled.
That’s because dyscontrol comes not from a realistic view of some situation or problem, but from anxiety. It’s compulsive behavior, whose real goal is to make uncomfortable feelings go away. Which means it’s not always rational. Which explains why we keep doing it even after we find it doesn’t work.
All this will be important to remember when we come to discuss the last two of the Big Five, both of which concern relationships.
Because relationships are confusing as hell.
The main reason we find relationship problems so hard to solve is that they grow out of unconscious feelings and motives. Often we don’t know what we’re doing or why we’re doing it. But we keep doing it over and over again. (Ever notice how you and your partner keep repeating the very same argument?)
Becoming conscious of how we try to control our anxiety by controlling other people is probably the single biggest step we can take towards healing our relationships.
Okay, enough for now.
Coming next week:
Control and relationships, in three parts.
Also coming soon:
Monkeytraps will soon have a sister site, devoted to recovery from codependency.
It will contain articles, book reviews, links to resources, guest posts by experts, a forum, cartoons, podcasts, maybe even a video or two.
We’re calling it Power Monkeys.
Finally, a bit of
A Monkeytraps post titled “Bert’s strawberry” was reviewed recently by blogging coach and online copywriter Judy Dunn on her blog Cats EyeWriter.
What the blog is about: Steve Hauptman is a therapist, Gestaltist and leader of Interactive Therapy groups. His blog, Monkeytraps, is devoted to the oldest human addiction: control. Its thesis is simple. Unless we distinguish between what we can and cannot control, we try to control everything, and make ourselves sick and miserable. Steve blogs with Bert, his “inner monkey.”
The post: Bert’s strawberry
What I liked about it: Steve intrigued me with his blog post teaser: “Who eats fruit on the verge of death?” I was hooked. I had to read the story. His blog is an interesting concept. Bert is his control-addicted inner monkey. Some interesting (and enlightening) conversations must go on at Monkeytraps.
In Bert’s strawberry, Bert is retelling one of Steve’s stories, with his own reactions interspersed, control freak that he is. It’s a story about living in the moment, with a sort of mindfulness, and awareness of the present. To get this post, you really must read it.
Clever and creative way to help us understand how our “monkey mind” messes with us. I was especially impressed because the field of therapy can have its challenges when it comes to blogging.