The Third Paradox of control:
Controlling boils down to a tradeoff.
Gain control here, lose control there.
Think of the original monkey trap:
To hold on to the banana, the monkey surrenders his freedom. To regain his freedom, he must let the banana go.
It also explains all garden-variety codependent interactions:
To control you (make you like, love or accept me) I must surrender control of something else — like my ability to be honest, or spontaneous, or emotionally expressive.
Taking control of my emotional life — especially how I feel about myself — means surrendering control over how you react to me.
It also applies to New Year’s resolutions, not to mention all goal-setting:
To reach a particular goal (like writing my book) I must surrender control of others (like spending time with my family, or on chores that absorb my energy and attention).
To gain control of my weight I must surrender control (i.e., limit my choices) of what I put in my mouth.
To control my social anxiety I must detach from how other people see me and practice being myself.
And so on.
So control and surrender are two sides of the same coin.
And getting control of anything means losing control of something else.
To win A, you must sacrifice B.
Fill your bowel to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.