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.
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.