Monday, January 11, 2016

We're All Addicted to Control!

Welcome to my blog!  I decided to start this blog because I think our society has an addiction problem.  We are addicted to control.  And it is this concept of control that causes us a lot of problems both in our individual lives and in the world at large.  You see, we really only have control over ourselves.  Basically, just our thoughts, feelings and actions – and that’s it!  Nothing else.  For some people, this thought brings comfort and allows us to reclaim lost power.  For others, this is a scary thought because if I can only control myself, how can I ensure my own safety? 

As a therapist, the discussion of control often comes up within the first few sessions.  Oftentimes problems arise in our relationships as a result of either us trying to control others or others trying to control us.  If you think about it, control is at the root of almost every conflict.  I often tell people that there are really only four reasons a person becomes angry. 

1.     Someone is doing something I don’t want them to do and they won’t stop.
2.     Someone won’t do something I do want them to do and they won’t do it.
3.     Someone wants me to do something I don’t want to do.
4.     Someone wants me to stop doing something I do want to do.

This is control versus choice at its most basic.  And we only make it more complicated from here.  Our society is based on the illusion of control.  It’s even permeated our language.  “Make it happen.” “Just do it.”  And it controls our attitudes towards others.  “It’s their own fault.”  “If I can do it, so can they.”  “They got themselves in that situation and they can get themselves out.”  These statements ignore that fact that some things are just plain out of our control.  Some days traffic is heavier than others.  Some days you have a cold or the flu.  Some days, you run out of ink or someone else eats your lunch.  Some days there are long lines in the stores because some days too many people have called in sick and this is the best the company can do right now. 

So, how do we combat this out of control sense of control?  Through recognizing our power of choice.  At any given time, we have choices that are presented to us.  Sometimes the choices available to us are limited.  Sometimes we may not like the choices that are presented to us, but choices are still present.  For instance, maybe you hate your job.  But it’s your choice to be there!  True, if you just up and quit you may struggle with money for a bit, but it’s likely you will eventually find another job.  So showing up each day is a choice and so is quitting.  That is how you are powerful over your awful boss or your gossipy co-workers.  You realize it’s your choice to stay or go because you are choosing to work toward you own goals. 

So, that’s what this blog is going to be about.  This constant struggle of ours between control and choice.  Feel free to join the conversation!  How do you struggle with control?

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