You control nothing; not your employees, nor your spouse, you don’t even control your own children.
Yet the majority of problems we experience in the world today are from people trying to control others.
Control addicts, or “freaks”, as we have come to call them, are not stupid, or evil.
In fact, they’re usually very intelligent and hard-working people. They may have even enjoyed a modicum of success in the past, which they wrongly attribute to their ability to control external events or people.
We have all been guilty of trying to control people, or situations, at one point or another in our lives.
For example, are you a boss who regularly belittles your employees in front of others because you think it will lead to improved output? Or do you withhold affection from your partner to get them to behave in a way that will be more pleasing to you?
If so, by now you must have realized that these types of antics rarely work, because at the root of it all, we are all joy-loving, freedom-seeking beings, who came to this world to seek personal fulfillment on our own terms.
We all come from the same source, so it follows that none of us is lacking in any way. We are fully equipped and perfectly poised to become successful in whichever area we choose.
We do this by following the inner stirrings of our soul so actually, nobody knows what’s good for us better than we do. That is why we rebel when people try to limit our freedom.
Yet those who try to limit us are simply disconnected from their own power. They are fearful and looking for ways to make themselves feel better.
We all want and deserve to feel good but sometimes, we erroneously believe that we achieve this through getting other people to change their behavior, or controlling them in some way.
At work, we may create hierarchies, or cliques, where those with seniority or influence in certain camps get to call the shots. We encourage pandering to the powerful and turn otherwise intelligent people into unhappy psycophants.
Those who conform are rewarded; and provided they maintain their pavlovian responses to specific issues, someday, they too could possess the dubious honour of commanding servility.
We do this at home too – we give each other the silent treatment as a way of trying to alter each other’s behaviour; or we punish our children to remind them who’s in charge; and to send a signal about what happens to people who don’t comply.
In fact, most of the systems that you observe around you, beginning at home and school and culminating in the work environment, are designed to teach us to suppress our desires to please authority figures; to cede control to people whom we assume know better than we do.
To sustain these systems, we coin unflattering terms to describe people who don’t play along ÔÇô “delinquents,” “radicals,” or “overly ambitious” ÔÇô anything that connotes negativity, in a bid to either change or isolate them.
We create perceptions that they are bad, and if others desist from similar behaviour, then they are good.
We enforce compliance through various means, ranging from labeling, flogging and imprisonment. We even use culture to control people, especially women.
Attempting to control others is both futile and counter-productive. It is exhausting and frustrating; and saps you of the energy and clarity you need to create a wonderful life.
You have no control over what other people do. In fact, the only thing you do control is your reaction to them.
Whenever you try to stamp out certain behaviour, or coerce someone into being a certain way, the very behaviour you dislike in them becomes pronounced; just as the individual you are trying to eliminate from your life becomes more powerful, because of the attention you give to them.
Whatever you focus your attention on grows. So if you’re interested in finding happiness, or peace of mind, accept this basic principle and move on to the next step.
Realise that you do control your experience; and that the change you seek begins within yourself.
If you want to see radical improvements in your life, accept that everyone has the right to be happy, just as you do; and find things to appreciate about others instead.
Appreciate your curmudgeonly boss’ focus; or your competitor’s desire for improvement; and your spouse’s kindness.
The more you do this, the more you elicit similar types of behaviour from them, not through manipulation, but through the power of your focused thought.
Let go of your need to control unwanted people or situations; instead, develop a more positive outlook as a way of drawing more of the same into your life.
Indeed, it is the only and most effective form of control you will ever have.