Control: The search for and hiding from it.

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December 10, 2012 by John Buckley

Over the last few weeks I’ve come to realise the huge positives and negatives to being in and out of control of the situations we find ourselves in. I’ve tried to conceptualise these a little bit. Recently, as a way of starting workshop sessions, I’ve asked the question, ‘If you could have any superpower, what would it be?’ The responses were varied, from flying, to invisibility (always from men). But two of the main superpowers aspired to were, to read peoples minds and to have the power over time. These two powers are strongly linked to our fears over a lack of control.

An auld jump What I’ve also seen is people longing to lose control, to free themselves of perceived shackles. I have been one of those people. Wanting that buzz, heading out into surf, knowing that the capacity to control was diminished and there was a certain freedom with that.  The feeling of being removed from any kind of structured being can be addictive.

We have a difficult relationship with control as human beings. We long to be able to control the uncontrollable so that we can be reassured in our existence. But quite often it’s the time we spend on trying to harness control that actually stops us from living our lives in many ways. The fear of what will happen if I say ‘I love you’. The fear of how someone will think of us if we come out with something outside the perceived norm. We often don’t take that chance, because it’s a perceived state of not being in charge of the moment. We don’t know how the person or environment around us will react. This is scary though, let’s be honest.

Those who want to lose control also have difficulty with the concept I feel, I know I do. Quiet often it’s a misplaced thought, that going off into an adventure or new situation is about losing control. When sometimes it actually can be a search to reign in what we can’t quiet grasp.

I do realise this is getting into a slightly airy philosophical territory. The point I’m trying to make is that we can’t control our external environments reactions to who we are or how we feel. But we can work on how we react to that. I think it’s a mix of actively taking and giving up control at times. So why not try:

  • Telling someone that you really care about them. From the bottom of your heart, just so they know. Share the love, an try and manage your expectations back
  • Get out into the wild and try and take control and feel free in equal measure as you take on something outside your comfort zone
  • Take a chance telling someone something about yourself, that you’ve always wanted but weren’t sure how they’d react
  • Get up an sing or speak or read or whatever in front of people that you don’t know
  • Jump off something (safely and maybe metaphorically!)

Make your own list. For me control and lack of control are things we meet everyday in our lives. And to manage our relationship with them, we need to get to know them equally. For me, that’s when we really start living. Embracing not driving your own density is scary and at times it can be hurtful. It’s really scary, but once we move past that, we good support around us, something unexpected and wonderful may happen.


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