Thursday, January 18, 2007

How Controlling People Think
(or fail to think, as the case may be)
Opinion © 2007, by Guy L. Evans


Happy New Year to everyone. I hope your holidays were wonderful.

Controlling people are arbitrary. Control is arbitrary. They control because they believe that all consequences are arbitrary. They believe this because the consequences from their parents were always arbitrary. Arbitrary parents. Arbitrary children. Arbitrary decision-making.

The ideas that actions have consequences and that every person is responsible for his own actions do not occur to controlling people. In their minds, all consequences are arbitrary; therefore, no one is responsible for his own behavior. The “S**t Happens” bumper stickers illustrate this point.

They judge all people, things, and events based solely on whether they feel that they like or dislike the person, object, or event. Their determination of liking or disliking anyone or anything is strictly arbitrary. They often have no idea why they like or dislike anything. It’s just a feeling, and that feeling can change from moment to moment (e.g., “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”)

They never learn how to say, “I like this” or “I don’t like this”. Instead, they act out their feelings, often displaying irrational hostility.

Controlling people tend to be very self-controlling. They control themselves so that they don’t become the source of any problems. They control their moods, thoughts, and actions with the intent of convincing their inner critic that they are blameless for all things. Controlling people carry around an inner critic, usually an image of their critical, arbitrary parents. They substitute their parents’ reality for their own, and the inner critic stays with them for life.

To controlling people, blame is the ultimate truth. They believe that they have discovered the undeniable truth when they assign blame to someone, and that assigning blame is a matter of justice. To controlling people, justice demands that blame be justly assigned.

Controlling people don’t understand that blame is always arbitrary.

To controlling people, anything they don’t like is a problem. This gives them a very childlike quality. When something they don’t like happens, there is a problem.

To achieve the ends of justice, and to be blameless themselves, controlling people must blame all problems on someone other than themselves.

They associate the problem with some person. (This also applies to objects. In the minds of the controlling people, a person is no different from an inanimate object. Person and object are interchangeable ideas to them.)

They assign blame to the person. They think in terms of cause-and-effect. There was the effect (the problem), and there was a person associated with the problem; therefore, the person caused the problem. They think in terms of “you are causing a problem”.

Thinking that the person caused the problem, they try to control the person so that he can’t cause any more problems.

They believe that if you control the person, you control the problem and that if you eliminate the person, you eliminate the problem. In the minds of controlling people, the person is always the problem.

To controlling people, the idea that they may actually be part of the problem usually does not occur to them. They get target fixation--tunnel vision--and are incapable of coping with the problem by any means other than fight or flight (aggression, aversion, or distortion). They jump immediately into hostility mode, win-lose, run away, attack, dog eat dog, it’s either me or you, win at all costs, revenge, getting even, jealousy, etc.

In cases where controlling people blame themselves for their problems, the result may be drug abuse (drug abuse includes alcohol abuse), self-abuse, self-mutilation, or suicide. With the risks so high, it’s easy to understand why controlling people are intent of blaming others.

The greatest mistake that people make in problem solving is mistaking control for resolution. They believe that they have solved the problem when they have taken control of (what they believe to be) the source of the problem. They spend all their efforts trying to identify the source of the problem (by accusing, assigning blame, finding fault, discovering guilt, labeling, etc.), and then trying to control the source of the problem through aversion, aggression, or distortion.

Here are some ideas that may be helpful to controlling people:

  • Fire your inner critic. You need to be a helper to yourself, not a critic.

  • Eliminate blame. Stop blaming. Blame is the enemy of reason.

  • You have the right to feel your feelings. Feelings are involuntary. Feelings inform you of your condition; they don’t control you.

  • Positive self-talk. Stop blaming yourself. Learn to reward yourself for doing good. Be a friend to yourself, and you will learn to be a friend to others.

  • Learn to say, “I don’t like this” instead of “it’s all your fault”.

  • The person is never the problem; the problem is the problem. Focus on what you want to achieve instead of how you want other people to behave.

  • Your likes and dislikes are your responsibility.

  • Your behavior is your responsibility.

  • Other people’s behavior is not your responsibility.

  • Admit your losses and admit that you feel sorrow when you think about your losses. You aren’t weak or stupid or flawed for feeling sorrow.

  • Trying to control other people is much more stressful than simply identifying what you want to do.

  • Learn to listen to other people when they talk.

  • Learn to listen to yourself when you talk. Observe how you actually affect other people. Don’t be surprised when people don’t react the way you imagined they would.

  • Instead of imagining how you want other people to react to you, observe how they actually react to you.

  • Observe how the world really is, and then compare that to how you imagine you want the world to be.
I hope this helps.

Guy L. Evans
Aurora, Colorado

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