Excerpts from (and links to) our most popular posts about the idea of control.
We each carry around in our heads a picture of the reality we want. And we constantly compare that picture to the reality we have. Anything we do to bring those two closer together — to change what we have into what we want — I call controlling.
~ From The Talk.
Here’s why the idea of control fascinates me.
It’s an emotional iceberg, constantly carrying each of us southwards — away from where we want to go or where we think we’re headed.
Its size and invisibility make it easy to overlook. But ignoring it is dangerous. Because it hardly matters how hard you mush towards your goal when the iceberg keeps moving you in the opposite direction.
~ From Questioning the iceberg.
That it takes so many forms is just one reason for this. Another is the stunted language we use to describe them. We apply the verb control to wildly different behaviors, to our handling of everything from feelings to finances, foreign trade to cholesterol, termites to acne. Our language for control is so limiting that we almost need to construct a new one in order to describe this chameleon we’re looking for.
From The idea of control
Like the original, literal monkey trap. To hold on to the banana, the monkey gives up his freedom. To regain his freedom, he must let the banana go.
It also explains all garden-variety codependent interactions. To control you (that is, get you to like or love or accept me) I must surrender control of something else (like my ability to be honest or spontaneous or emotionally expressive).
~ From The tradeoff
The Just World Hypothesis amounts to the belief that the universe is arranged so that people get what they deserve. Good things happen to good people, in other words, and bad things happen to bad.
Most people believe this, even if they’re not aware of it. Which explains why people tend to feel guilty when bad things happen to them.
Why do we cling to this bias?
Control. Or the illusion thereof.
~ From Just the world.
Why? Because they expect bad things to happen. (Usually because bad things have already happened to them. Abuse and trauma victims, for example, are famously controlling.) So they fear the unpredictable, the unexpected, the unplanned. They rely on control to fend off danger and discomfort.
They live, whether or not they realize it, as frightened people.
~ From Is control your shield?
All this tree-talk is metaphorical, of course. We’re really talking about people and their view of control.
Oak-people see control as necessary to their sense of security. Birch-people recognize control as essential in some situations and a dangerous illusion in others.
Me, I’m a 61-year-old oak, trying to become a birch.
~ From Human treeings.
We don’t know we’re addicted. We don’t know that we don’t know how not to control. We control automatically, unconsciously and compulsively.
And when our controlling causes problems, we don’t see it. We find other explanations.
“I like your blog, but it’s a little scary, since before this I had no idea how controlling I am and how many problems it causes me.
“What I want now is to learn to be more aware of my controlling, to keep the idea of control at the surface of my mind and to understand how wanting to control things drives how I react and what I do and say.
“Got any tips on that?”
~ From How to spot monkeytraps