(THE BOOK) Chapter 6: External and internal

Let’s start by distinguishing different types of controlling.

Controlling, to begin with, may be external or internal.

External controlling focuses outside the individual, on people, places and things.  Internal controlling focuses inside the individual, on his or her own thoughts, feelings and behavior.

Cleaning my garage, disciplining my kids, selling anyone anything, and steering my car out of a skid are examples of external controlling.

Dieting, memorizing French verbs, learning to meditate, and hiding my true feelings are examples of internal controlling.

This may seem an obvious distinction.  It isn’t. 

Because people addicted to control often lose the ability to distinguish between external and internal.

For example, as a control addict I may well believe that the only way to accept myself (internal) is to get you to like me or love me or give me money (external).  So I try to control you in order to control how I feel.

But I may also be convinced that in order to control you (external) I must control myself (internal) – hide what I really think of your haircut or your politics, for example.

So I control you to control me, and control me to control you.

And if you’re a control addict, you do the same.

And the boundary between us gets impossibly blurred.

(More on this confusion later, in Part 2: Dysfunction.)



We continue to collect members for two Skype-based study/support groups for readers who want to explore these ideas with me in real time.  One will be for therapists who want to integrate these ideas into their clinical work.  Both groups will be small, four t0 six members at most, and meet weekly.

These groups have two purposes.  One (the study function) is to help members understand and relate to the ideas in Monkeytraps, which are new to most people and feel counterintuitive to many.  The other (the support function) is to help members integrate these ideas into their lives and relationships. For therapists this would include their relationships with clients.  

The first step to joining is an introductory Skype consult with me, so we can meet each other, I get a sense of your interests and needs, and you can ask questions about the group, the book, and whatever.

The Skype consult fee is $50, payable in advance via PayPal.  That is also the fee for each group session.  Group members may also purchase Monkeytraps (The Book) at half price when it’s released next spring, and will be the first to be informed of any related projects or services.

I’ve already met some cool people through these consults, and am excited to see the new groups unfold.  

I expect we’ll learn a lot from each other.

Interested?  Write me: fritzfreud@aol.com.


4 responses to “(THE BOOK) Chapter 6: External and internal

  • Al

    Hi Steve
    I can relate to this understanding of controlling..
    I have tried to control, external, other people by making sure I am a certain shape, size and weight so that I will gain approval from others. And therefore I will like myself.
    I have identified what I believe other people wanted in terms of attitude, my job, my manners do that I will again be accepted, gained respect so that I void accept, respect myself.
    Internally, I hidden my anger at others in case they don’t like it/me and walk away. (feeling that my anger was a sign if wrongness in me.)
    I thus had assumed others were not as superior as I was and would not see through me..
    Not worked do far….none of it.
    What I found worse was that once in the I control me/you and you control you/ loop it’s very hard to get out!

    • Steve Hauptman

      Right. It’s like a game you win only by refusing to play. 🙂

      • Al

        Like ‘Do nothing’…..sometimes harder to do than Do Something which has a feeling off power ie control attached!
        Do Nothing feels powerless, ie I let go of control, however it also feels more wise, more inner power?
        Thanks 👌

        • Steve Hauptman

          A difficulty nicely summarized by this slogan about meditation:
          “Don’t just do something, sit there.”

          Because of how our minds work, most of can’t, at least not without considerable discomfort.

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