Monthly Archives: July 2019

(Talk #4) Weapon of choice: The roots of control addiction

The Plan B Talks

I recently began a new group for adult children of alcoholic, narcissistic, abusive, and otherwise dysfunctional families. In this group I’ll be giving a series of talks about how we’re all shaped by our families of origin and what we can do about it.  It’s been suggested that my readers might find these talks useful, so I plan to publish the talk notes here. The series continues with (Talk #4) Weapon of choice: The roots of control addiction.  Questions and feedback welcome.




We come now to the last of the three metaphors: control addiction.

I said earlier that control addiction is my favorite explanation for human behavior.

That’s because it explains so much of what we feel and do as adults.

It also combines the first two metaphors – Plan A and the inner Kid – in a theory of how we develop emotional problems.

Plan A, remember, is that set of adaptations we developed as kids for dealing with feelings, relationships and life in general.  And the Inner Kid is that authentic part of us which gets driven into hiding by the process of socialization.

Well, every Plan A is based on control.

And every wounded Kid gets triggered into compulsive controlling.

Since we all have a Plan A, and we all carry a wounded Kid inside, we are all, ultimately, control addicts.

Control & controlling

Some definitions to start with:

Control means the ability to edit reality – to make people, places and things (ourselves included) behave the way we want.

A craving for control is hardwired into us.  It’s rooted in our big brains – brains that remember and anticipate, analyze and plan, worry and obsess – brains which, in fact, have a life of their own and cannot stop doing any of those things. 

It works this way: 

Moment to moment, we each carry a picture in our heads of the reality we want.  And we constantly compare that picture to the reality we have.

Everything we do to bring those two into alignment — the reality we want and the reality we have — is what I call controlling.

We seek control constantly.  We do it in our heads, our speech and our behavior.  We do it in ways big and small, obvious and disguised, healthy and unhealthy.  Sometimes we do it consciously, but most of our controlling is both unconscious and automatic.

We can’t help ourselves.

Huge & invisible

“Some things you miss because they’re so tiny,” Robert Pirsig writes. “But some things you don’t see because they’re so huge.”

Control is one of those invisible huge things.

The urge to control explains a ridiculously wide range of behaviors.  Often we think of controlling as bossing, bullying or nagging, or a controlling person as someone like Hitler, Donald Trump or Mom.  But that’s like mistaking the elephant’s trunk for the whole elephant.

We’re controlling whenever we scratch an itch.  Comb our hair.  Mow our lawn.  Salt our soup.  Spank our child.  Balance our checkbook.  Change channels. Stop at a red light.  Vote.  Punch someone in the mouth.  Flatter someone.  Seduce someone.  Lie.  Hide our true feelings.  Worry.  Dream.

You get the idea.

We’re all controlling, and we’re controlling all the time.

We chase control all our lives, waking and sleeping, out in public and deep in the most secret crannies of our mind.  We chase it consciously and unconsciously, creatively and destructively, wisely and stupidly, from birth until death.

As I said, we can’t help ourselves.  Control-seeking is the default position of our species.

At the same time, because it’s such a given of human experience, we barely notice we’re doing it.

Control isn’t like a tool we pick up and put down.  It’s more like breathing, or blinking, or the way your knee jerks when the doctor taps your patellar tendon.  Constant, automatic, involuntary.

Nor is the wish for control like a faucet we can turn on and off.  An urge to control flows through us continuously, saturates all our behavior and feelings, infuses everything we desire and fear.

It not only drives our behavior, it structures our thinking.  

What is most of our thinking, if not an attempt to somehow change some circumstance, shift some piece of reality closer to what we’d prefer?  What else do you call problem-solving, planning, analyzing, fantasizing, worrying, obsessing?

It also structures our emotional lives. 

More specifically, it causes most of our pain.

Yoga teacher Stephen Cope writes,

Each of us has our own silent War With Reality.  Yogis came to call this duhkha.  Duhkha means, literally, “suffering,” “pain,” or “distress.”  This silent, unconscious war with How It Is unwittingly drives much of our behavior:  We reach for the pleasant.  We hate the unpleasant.  We try to arrange the world so that we have only pleasant mind-states, and not unpleasant ones.  We try to get rid of this pervasive state of unsatisfactoriness in whatever way we can — by changing things “out there.”  By changing the world. 

The idea of control makes up the psychological sea in which each of us swims.

And most of the time we barely notice we’re wet.

Control vs power

Finally, control is very different from power.

The two words are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.

In some ways, they’re opposites.

One difference is that power is possible, but control is often an illusion.

Another is that power can set you free, while controlling can make you crazy.

Again, control means the ability to edit reality, to get life itself to meet our expectations.  But power (as I use the word) means the ability to get your needs met.  To take care of yourself.  To not just survive, but to heal, grow and be happy.

And as difficult as it may be to attain this sort of power, it’s easier than forcing reality to meet your expectations.

An example of the difference:

Imagine your rich uncle dies suddenly and leaves you control of his multinational corporation.  You wake up one morning the CEO of Big Bucks, Inc.

You go to your new job. You sit behind a huge desk. Four secretaries line up to do your bidding. You have tons of control. You can hire and fire, buy and sell, build plants or close them, approve product lines, mount advertising campaigns, manage investments, bribe congressmen, you name it.

How do you feel?

If you’re like me, you feel crippled by anxiety. Bewildered and overwhelmed by your new responsibilities. Disoriented. Panicked.

Anything but in control.

Now imagine you decide, “To hell with this.  I quit.  I’m going home to eat a sandwich and take a nap.”

How do you feel now?

Notice that in this situation you gain power by giving up control.

Often we seek control when it’s power that we really want and need.  But since we never distinguish the two, we end up chasing the wrong one.  Which can be disastrous.

 As a recovering control addict I’ve learned two essential differences between control and power.

~ Control focuses outward, at other people, places and things. So control-seeking pulls me away from myself, away from self-awareness and self-care.   The more controlling I am, the more I lose touch with me, and the more preccupied I become with my environment.  This leads to worry and frustration and exhaustion and helplessness.   

But power focuses inward, on my own needs, thoughts and feelings.  So developing power is all about developing the ability to know, understand and accept myself.  And this leads to self-awareness and self-acceptance.

~ Control works paradoxically.   People who depend on having control to feel safe and happy don’t feel safe or happy most of the time.  Even when you get control, you can’t keep it for long.  Chasing control is like chasing a train you can never catch.  

Power, though — rooted in healthy, intelligent self-care — is something you really can learn and practice.   Like a muscle which, if you exercise it, grows stronger over time.

The roots of control

So how do we get so confused?  Why do we end up chasing control when what we really need is power?

Part of the answer is what I mentioned above: our big brains.

But another part has to do with the experience of childhood.

Psychoanalyst Alan Wheeler writes, “We all start out weak in the hands of the strong.”  We have no power as kids, no ability to take care of ourselves.  We need big people to feed us and wash us and protect us and comfort us when we’re upset or scared.

And inevitably we use control to make sure they do those things.  

Control is our only weapon against helplessness.  We learn this early on, even before we have language.  We begin to learn it the first time we cry and mom picks us up and feeds us or changes our diaper. 

“Hey,” we realize.  “What I do affects what she does.”

So we begin collecting data about how to get other people to treat us the way we want and not treat us the way we don’t.

We learn thousands of ways. 

Want mom to love you?  Don’t talk back.  Want dad to be proud of you?  Get straight A’s.  Want Teacher’s approval? Do your homework.  Want to avoid being bullied?  Make friends with the tough kid.

This is how kids navigate life.  For a kid, there’s no other way.

That’s why every Plan A is based on control.

Weapon of choice

Of course, at some point we’re supposed to grow up and develop some power.

Supposed to become able to express, take care of, and stand up for ourselves.

But many of us don’t.  Many of us — especially those who’ve been abused, neglected or traumatized — stay stuck in kid mode.

We continue relying on control to get our needs met and to manage relationships.  We keep seeking approval and avoiding rejection.  We hide who we are, bury our real feelings, put on a mask, and try our damnedest to be what we think others want us to be. 

Most of the time we do this without realizing we’re doing it.  It’s our Plan A and it just feels normal. 

But we’re acting, in effect, like kids. 

And if we want to be healthy adults it’s essential to notice that while kids cannot help but fall into controlling, adults have a choice. 

Adults can learn to function more like adults.

Which means learning how to

~ stop controlling what we can’t control anyway,

~ listen to ourselves and use what we hear to make choices,

~ identify and express our feelings,

~ parent the inner Kid inside us (instead of hiding or abusing it),


~ be our authentic selves in relationships.

Adults can exchange the kid’s only weapon against helplessness for more effective ways of thinking, feeling and coping.

Adults can develop a Plan B.


Steve Hauptman is the author of Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop (2015), available here, and the forthcoming There I go again: Monkeytraps for Adult Children.


(Talk #3) Tranced: Inner kids & adult children


The Plan B Talks

I recently began a new group for adult children of alcoholic, narcissistic, abusive, and otherwise dysfunctional families. In this group I’ll be giving a series of talks about how we’re all shaped by our families of origin and what we can do about it.  It’s been suggested that my readers might find these talks useful, so I plan to publish the talk notes here. The series continues with (Talk #3) Tranced: Inner kids & adult children.  Questions and feedback welcome.



The child is in me still and sometimes not so still. ~ Fred Rogers

We’ve been talking* about the need to free ourselves from our families of origin in order to grow up emotionally.

We can’t do either without addressing our Inner Kid.

That means we need to acknowledge the Kid, accept it, figure out what it needs from us, and do our best to parent it.

Adults who never learn how to parent the Kid end up feeling permanently kidlike.

The Inner Kid

So what’s the Inner Kid?

Occasionally someone asks me this.

I usually answer, “It’s that part of you where you store unexpressed feelings, unmet needs, unanswered questions and unresolved conflicts.”

Usually they nod.

Not one ever says No, I don’t have one of those.

That might seem odd, given the lack of attention we generally pay to this most secret part of us.

Then again, it doesn’t.

Since we all know we’re damaged or wounded in some way.

The inner kid gives us a language for talking about it.

In my work I tend to encounter each client’s inner Kid in two forms: as the source of that person’s hidden authenticity, and as the source of his or her hidden wounds.


Authentic means real.

The Kid is the source of feeling, honesty, spontaneity, joy, creativity and growth.

Carl Jung wrote,

In every adult there lurks a child, an eternal child, something that is always becoming, is never completed, and calls for unceasing care, attention, and education.  That is the part of the human personality which wants to develop and become whole.

Other writers have echoed Jung’s view of the child as the source of all human potential and authenticity:

[The inner child is] that part of each of us which is ultimately alive, energetic, creative and fulfilled; it is our Real Self — who we truly are. (Charles Whitfield)

[The inner child] is who we are when we were born, our core self, our natural personality, with all its talent, instinct, intuition and emotion. (Margaret Paul)

All the people we call ‘geniuses’ are men and women who somehow escaped having to put that curious, wondering child in themselves to sleep. (Barbara Sher)

The most potent muse of all is our own inner child. (Stephen Nachmanovich)

I also think of the Kid as the animal part, the part of us that has healthy instinctual reactions to what it experiences.

Occasionally when a client is trying to make a difficult decision, I’ll suggest they visualize each of the two alternatives they face.  Then I ask “What does your stomach want?”  That’s my way of checking in with the Kid.

Usually the stomach tenses when the person thinks of one alternative and relaxes when they think of the other.  That’s the Kid, voting.

The Kid is that part of us that knows what we really need and isn’t afraid to tell us.

Unfortunately most of us have been trained not to listen.


Here’s where the wounds come in.

The inner Kid is the part of us that gets driven underground by socialization – i.e., when we’re trained to live with other people.

It’s the part that gets told

Don’t pee in your pants, use the bathroom,


Don’t eat that cookie, it’s almost dinnertime,


Stop yelling, you’ll wake your father,


Get up, it’s time for school,


Don’t you take that tone with me,


Don’t cry or I’ll give you something to cry about,


Why can’t you be more like your big sister?,

and so on.

Socialization is necessary, of course.  We all have to adapt to our environment in order to survive.

But the process of socialization inevitably creates psychological and emotional wounds.

It basically splits us in two parts: a public part and a private part.  Or more accurately, an adapted part and an authentic part.

This self-splitting is called neurosis, and it’s inescapable.

No one survives childhood without some splitting.

Which means no one survives childhood without accumulating unexpressed feelings, unmet needs, unanswered questions and unresolved conflicts.

And no one avoids carrying these wounds into adulthood.

Adult children

Adult child is a term we use to describe this phenomenon.

In my last talk I defined adult children as people still living according to Plan A – the set of adaptations they developed as children.

Here’s another definition:

Adult children are grownups who still feel like kids inside.

Maybe not all the time, but under stress.

This happens because, under stress, adult children enter the equivalent of a hypnotic trance.

In that trance they forget they’re grownups and experience themselves as the kids they once were – scared, angry, confused, helpless, overwhelmed.

The worse they were wounded as children, the more powerful this trance is.

Anyone who’s ever experienced a panic attack knows what I’m describing.

So does any adult who’s ever felt him- or herself regress to age six in the presence of family members.

These feelings are what R.D. Laing was describing when he said, “We are all in a post-hypnotic trance induced in infancy.”

To some extent, we are all of us adult children.


So why is all this inner Kid/Adult children stuff important?

Because it’s essential to understanding ourselves as adults.

It reminds us of where we came from, and what happened to us there:

~ that we started out helpless, totally dependent on the big people around us.

~ that we had no choice but to adapt to those big people.

~ that this adaptation occurred not just on the surface of our personality, but seeped down to the very core of us.

~ that, like a lie you tell so often you come to believe it’s true, this adaptation came to feel not like something we did but something we are.

~ that as a result it left us confused at the deepest level – confused about who we really are and how to be in the world.

This confusion lies at the root of the most common problems people bring to therapy — anxiety, depression, addictions, unhappy relationships and parenting problems.

I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t suffered from at least one of these.

They all flow from being tranced, from feeling like kids trapped in adult bodies, from having inner Kids we don’t know how to care for and listen to.

Adult health and happiness depend on emerging from the trance, escaping from the defensive prison to which childhood consigned us.

You simply cannot be an emotionally strong and healthy adult so long as you’re carrying around a weak wounded Kid inside.

Or as Carl Jung put it, “Whatever we don’t own, owns us.”


Steve Hauptman is the author of Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop (2015), available here, and the forthcoming There I go again: Monkeytraps for Adult Children.


* (Talk #1) Three metaphors, and (Talk #2) There I go again: Families and Plan A


Jung, Carl Gustav.  The portable Jung.  Ed Joseph Campbell.  New York: Penguin, 1980.

Nachmanovitch, Stephen.  Free play: Improvisation in life and art.  New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1990.

Paul, Margaret.  Inner bonding: Becoming a loving adult to your inner child.  San Francisco: Harper SanFrancisco, 1992.

Sher, Barbara.  Wishcraft: How to get what you really want.  New York: Viking Press, 1979.

Whitfield, Charles.  Healing the child within: Discovery and recovery for adult childre dysfunctional families.  Pompano Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1987.

(Talk #2) There I go again: Families & Plan A



The Plan B Talks

I recently began a new group for adult children of alcoholic, narcissistic, abusive, and otherwise dysfunctional families. In this group I’ll be giving a series of talks about how we’re all shaped by our families of origin and what we can do about it.  It’s been suggested that my readers might find these talks useful, so I plan to publish the talk notes here. The series continues with (Talk #2) There I go again: Families & Plan A.  Questions and feedback welcome.




The family ocean

An old proverb tells us that fish will be the last creatures to discover water.

Makes sense, right?  Water is the only environment fish know.  So to a fish water is simply a given, something to be taken for granted and ignored.

Human beings are like that.

Except the water we take for granted is our family.

By family I don’t mean just the group of people around us when we’re born and raised.

I mean an emotional environment, a way of feeling and perceiving and thinking and acting.  We depend on family not just for our lives and emotional feeding but for our sense of what the world is and how we’re meant to function in it.

Family is the psychological sea in which we swim, the only reality we know.

So we have no choice but to adapt to it and absorb it, to carry it inside us everywhere we go.

And even when what we’ve absorbed causes us problems – makes us unhappy or emotionally sick, for example – we usually don’t think to step back question it.

Since it’s almost impossible to see your family objectively.

Fish roles

If you doubt this, think of how we get defined by our family roles.

Family therapist James Framo writes,

The “family way” of seeing and doing things becomes automatic and unquestioned, like the air one breathes.  [For example,] It is very difficult for anyone, no matter how grown-up or mature, to avoid the family role assignment when he is in the presence of his family.  Whether his role is that of “the quiet one,” “the smart one,” “the slick one,” “the troublemaker,” “father’s protector,” or any one of countless assignments, he will find himself behaving accordingly despite himself. [1]

Try a thought experiment.  Think of your family of origin.  Now ask yourself,

Who was the strong one?

Who was the weak one?

Who was the emotional one?

Who was the unemotional one?

Who was the funny one?

Who was the angry one?

Who was the anxious or insecure one?

Who was the controlling one?

Who got controlled? 

Who was the problem solver?

Who was the problem?

Now try asking yourself

Did I have a role?

What was it?

Do I slip back into it when I’m with my family?

How am I still playing this role somewhere else in my life?

Was I aware of this before now?

For most of us it takes a long time to discover how our family role has defined us – if we ever discover it at all.

Conscious fish

On the other hand, if we’re in recovery from anything – anxiety or depression or addiction or chronically bad relationships or some other emotional problem — sooner or later we begin to suspect that maybe we need to reexamine our family.

That we need to do what Freud originally defined as the goal of psychoanalysis: make the unconscious conscious.

So how do we do that?

How does a fish discover water?

We consciously turn our attention to what we’ve ignored, and to start asking higher level questions about it.

And a good question to start is: What’s my Plan A? 

Plan A

As I said last time, Plan A is my label for everything we learn as children about life and how to live it.

We each have a Plan A.  And we each pretty much learn it in the same place and in the same way.

The place is our family, and the way is unconsciously.

Nobody sits us down at the kitchen table and says, “Listen up.  Here’s how you do Life.”  They just do Life themselves, and we watch and listen and soak it all up like little sponges.  Which explains why our Plan A tends to look so much like that of our family members.

And it works for a while.  Especially while we’re still living in the family.  We’re all following the same unwritten rule book.

But Plan A always breaks down.

It happens when we move beyond the family into the larger world, filled with new people and new challenges.  And we discover that what worked at home doesn’t always work out there.

At which point we have, at least in theory, a choice.

We can tell ourselves, “Oh, I see.  I guess I need a Plan B.”  Or we can tell ourselves, “I must be doing it wrong.  I better work harder at Plan A.”

Guess which we choose?

Right.  Plan A.  Always Plan A.

Two reasons for this.  First, we may not even know there’s such a thing as Plan B.  We think Plan A is just normal.  Why would anyone do Life in any other way?

Second, even when we begin to suspect there are other options, change is scary. 

So we cling to Plan A because it’s familiar.  It may not work great, but we can do it in our sleep.

And we usually keep doing just that until we develop symptoms — anxiety, depression, addictions, communication problems, bad relationships.

Those symptoms are what drive us into therapy.

Seeking, whether we know it not, a Plan B.


In 1983 Janet Woititz published a book titled Adult Children of Alcoholics[2] which contained what came to be known in recovery circles as The Laundry List.

It’s a list of thirteen traits typical of adults who grew up in dysfunctional families.

A dysfunctional family, by the way, is simply one in which the members cannot get their needs met.

And adult children are people still trying to figure out what their Plan A was and which parts of it they need to exchange for something healthier.

If you’d like to be able to notice when you slip into Plan A – to say “Oh, there I go again” instead of reacting unconsciously — the Laundry List is a good place to start.

Below is a revised version.

If you’re an adult child,

    1. You guess at what normal is, then try to imitate it.

    2. You have trouble following projects through from beginning to end.

    3. You lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.

    4. You judge yourself without mercy.

    5. You have trouble relaxing or having fun.

    6. You take yourself very seriously.

    7. You struggle with intimate relationships.

    8. You over-react to changes beyond your control.

    9. You constantly seek approval and affirmation.

    10. You feel different from other people.

    11. You’re either super responsible or super irresponsible.

    12. You’re extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that your loyalty is undeserved.

    13. You’re impulsive — i.e., tend to lock yourself into a course of action without thinking through alternatives or consequences.  This creates confusion, self-loathing and loss of control over your environment.  You also spend large amounts of time and energy cleaning up the mess.

If you identify with one or more of these symptoms you may wonder what it means.

I’ll tell you.

It means you’re like me, and everyone else I know.

Because there’s no one on this bus but us fishes.


Steve Hauptman is the author of Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop (2015), available here, and the forthcoming There I go again: Monkeytraps for Adult Children.


[1] James Framo, “Symptoms from a Family Transactional Viewpoint,” in Explorations in Marital and Family Therapy (New York: Springer Publishing Company, 1982), p. 31.

[2] Adapted from Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Woititz (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1983).



(Talk #1) Three metaphors


The Plan B Talks

I recently began a new group for adult children of alcoholic, narcissistic, abusive, and otherwise dysfunctional families. In this group I’ll be giving a series of talks about how we’re all shaped by our families of origin and what we can do about it.  It’s been suggested that my readers might find these talks useful, so I plan to publish the talk notes here. The series starts today with (Talk #1) Three Metaphors.  Questions and feedback welcome.






The first thing a therapist learns is that most people don’t know why they feel what they feel or do what they do.

We think we do, but we don’t.

Once during a lecture Joseph Campbell drew a big circle on a blackboard and then added a tiny notch at the top.  The circle, he said, represents the whole human being, and the notch represents the conscious part.  

The main goal of this group is to expand your notch – to raise your awareness of the forces that shaped you and where your feelings and behavior come from.

We’ll do that by looking at your family of origin and how you were unconsciously conditioned by it to see, feel and act.


I’ve been trying to expand my own notch for forty years now, and the most important part of that work has involved looking at my family of origin. 

My father was alcoholic and my mother was codependent.  Those two facts shaped my life more than anything. 

They taught me how to see myself and other people.  They taught me how to handle feelings and relationships, cope with stress and perceive the world. 

They also left me with anger, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, narcissistic tendencies, social anxiety, workaholism, an identification with underdogs, a tendency to self-medicate with sugar, and a compulsion to solve other people’s problems. 

At 69 I’m still trying to understand how all that happened, and to sort out the useful lessons from the unhealthy ones.

It’s the main reason I became a therapist, and the main reason I wanted to do this group.

Three metaphors

In the course of figuring out my own conditioning and helping others figure out theirs I’ve come across three useful metaphors we’ll be using in this group: Plan A, the Inner Kid, and control addiction.

~ Plan A refers to everything you learned as a kid about yourself, other people, feelings, relationships and life itself – all the conclusions, assumptions and rules you absorbed from your environment and your experiences. 

We each have a Plan A, and we each learn it the same way – unconsciously.  We watch and listen to the big people around us and decide that’s how we’re supposed to be.  We also have stressful experiences which force us into certain ways of coping and then, as adults, we revert to those Plan A reactions in times of stress. 

Why is understanding Plan A important? 

Because to the extent we rely on it as adults, we feel like kids inside, and we function in ways that are often outdated, maladaptive and unhealthy. 

Speaking of feeling like kids inside:

~  The Inner Kid refers to the part of you that was forced into hiding when you were powerless.  I think we each have an Inner Kid, and that understanding that helps us understand both ourselves and other people better.

In therapy I tend to think of the Kid as the authentic part – the real you, the part that reflects what you really feel and really need. 

I also think of it as the wounded part — the part that carries all your unmet needs, unexpressed feelings, unresolved conflicts and unhealed wounds. 

Again, I think we each have a Kid which was driven into hiding when we were young, and which gets triggered now when we’re stressed.  And one sign that our Kid is getting triggered is that we become controlling.

~ Control addiction is my favorite explanation for human behavior.  I’ll explain my view of it in more detail later, but here are the basics:

[] Control means the ability to edit reality – to make people, places and things (including ourselves) behave the way we want. 

[] Human beings are hardwired to seek control, mainly as a result of our big brains – brains that remember and project and plan and analyze and worry and obsess – which cannot, in fact, stop doing any of those things.    

[] I believe

~ We’re all addicted to control.     

~ This addiction causes most (maybe all) of our emotional problems.

~ The root of this addiction is the wish to control feelings.

~ There are better ways to handle feelings than control.

I call these the Four Laws of control, and they’re the basis for how I do therapy.

So those are the three metaphors.  I’ll explain each in detail in the weeks to come.

Learning goals

In the description I sent you I said this group would have three goals.  The first had to do with what I hope you’ll learn here:  To help you better understand how childhood issues play out in your current life. 

In the language of the three metaphors, that means figuring out

(a) what your Plan A is and where it came from,

(b) how your Inner Kid functions and what s/he needs, and

(c) what triggers you into compulsive controlling.


One last note about what we’ll be discussing:

Much of what I’m teaching you will be counterintuitive. 

That means not just that it will be unfamiliar, but that your mind and emotions may well reject it, at least initially.  It just won’t fit your normal ways of perceiving, feeling and acting.  It may even make you uncomfortable.

If that happens, relax.  It’s normal. 

Learning this new view means going through three stages: (a) understanding the idea, (b) accepting the idea, and finally (c) practicing the idea.

Take all the time you need with each stage.


Steve Hauptman is the author of Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop (2015), available here, and the forthcoming There I go again: Monkeytraps for Adult Children.

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