control. (noun) The ability to dictate reality. From the Latin contra rotullus, “against the roll,” referring to a method of medieval bookeeping in which figures were checked for accuracy against (contra) a master roll (rotullus). The idea of control is thus rooted in the idea of comparision: we compare the reality we have with the reality we want and try to reduce the distance between them. We’re controlling, then, when — for whatever reason — we actively reject the reality we’ve been given. Discussed in “Bert’s addiction.”
four laws of control, the. (1) We are all addicted to control. (2) This addiction causes most (maybe all) emotional problems. (3) Behind all controlling is the wish to control feelings. (4) There are better ways to handle feelings than control. Discussed in “The Talk.”
intimacy. (noun) The ability to be yourself with another person, and to let them do the same with you. One of the three main alternatives to control, “It’s the hardest [of the three] because it combines both surrender and responsibility, and because it demands that we rise above fear. But it also offers us our only chance to feel truly connected to and accepted by another human being.” Discussed in What you damn well better know about control.
monkeytrap. (noun) Any situation which triggers compulsive (i.e., anxiety-driven) controlling. Derived from an Asian method of trapping monkeys in which fruit is placed in a weighted jar or bottle with a narrow neck. The monkey smells the fruit, reaches in to grab it, then traps himself by refusing to let go. Discussed in “How to spot monkeytraps.”
plan A. (noun) Metaphor for everything we learn about life as children. The most important components of any Plan A include basic (and largely unconscious) assumptions about feelings, relationships, and how both should be managed. Discussed in “Bert’s Plan A.”
power. (noun) The ability to get your needs met; to take care of yourself, both generally and in a given situation. To not just survive, but to heal, and grow, and be happy. Distinguished from control in Control isn’t power.
responsibility. (noun) The ability to listent to feelings instead of hiding or suppressing them. One of the three main alternatives to control, “It allows you to avoid splitting yourself into two selves – public and private — and to make healthier choices, ones that take your true needs into account.” Discussed in What you damn well better know about control.
surrender. (noun) The ability to stop trying to control what you can’t control anyway. One of the three main alternatives to control, “It allows you to relax, accept life on life’s terms, to swim with the tide of events instead of against it.” Discussed in What you damn well better know about control.
top dog. (noun) Metaphor for a self-critical part of the human personality. First named by Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt therapy, and also called the Inner Critic, top dog is that scared inner voice which nags, warns and criticizes incessantly in an attempt to fend off danger, especially rejection. Described more fully in “Bert’s dog.”
September 15th, 2011 at 6:59 am
never read berts dic. nice to know the definitions
September 19th, 2011 at 8:58 pm
Thanks so much, this is really helpful. I just read “Have Yourself a Healthy Power Trip” in the latest issue of the newspaper Together. Thanks so much for that–what you had to say about control (what it is and why it doesn’t work) was just what I needed to hear. Thank you again for your excellent work.
September 19th, 2011 at 9:02 pm
Thanks. Glad you found it helpful, and liked the Together article, too. 🙂
November 14th, 2011 at 8:27 pm
omg u rock! I LOL when I saw the monkey.
Sending link to all my Al-anon friends back east.
Definately a book!