Alternatives

So group (see Harbor) ends.  And one member follows me back to my office.
“How do I stop controlling?” she asks.
“Wrong question,” I say.  “You can’t stop all controlling.  Better to ask, ‘How do I stop controlling compulsively?
Compulsive controlling is the addictive sort, driven by anxiety and ignorance.  Control addicts are chronically scared but know no other way to feel safe or happy.  They’ve never learned alternatives to controlling.
What alternatives?
Surrender, responsibility and intimacy.
~ Surrender is the ability to stop controlling what can’t (or shouldn’t) be controlled.  It means being able to do nothing and trust that things will work out anyway.  Other words for surrender are detachment, acceptance and faith.  A life without surrender is a tense, white-knuckled life.
~ Responsibility means the ability to respond – to answer a situation or need appropriately.  Often the key to  such answers lies in our ability to listen to ourselves, especially to the body and the messages it sends us.  Most of us are trained to ignore such messages.  But a person who takes care of himself is being responsible.  One who buries feelings or sacrifices himself for others is not.
~ Intimacy is the ability to be yourself with another person and allow them to do the same with you.  It’s the most challenging alternative because it combines the first two.  Intimacy requires that I stop trying to control you and also risk being myself.  Not easy.  But worth the work.  Because intimate relationships are as good as human relationships get.
None of these alternatives is easy, when you come down to it.
But all are worth the work.
Because to the extent we remain ignorant of or unwilling to practice them, we stay hopelessly addicted to control.

4 responses to “Alternatives

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