The Oxford Dictionary describes Control as “the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.” For me this goes very light on addressing and describing Control and almost presents a level of acceptability of its place in the world.
My personal description of ‘control’ suggests that it is something we feel rather than using logic.
In my own experiences I have felt control was like an invisible hand around my throat: it comes across as a threat even if the words do not indicate it as such, it suggests non-compliance has penalties, it’s a squashing of who I am, it demands I be submissive, it’s manipulative, it’s a secret game where the rules are known but never spoken, it uses fear and intimidates, and it creates self-doubt to thwart truth. In essence, controlling behavior makes my skin crawl.
I grew up in a household where I was controlled by the continuous threat and actualization of violence, perhaps the ultimate control. It is here that I first learned to be submissive and compliant. Speaking up about how I was feeling or what was truly going on came with a punishment, and it became clear to me that staying silent was the way to go.
After 18 years of living in this environment and by then incredibly angry as a person (although smothered with ‘nice’), I discovered that control continued in the workplace and into my relationships – there always seemed to be somebody there, waiting to control.
I learned to keep myself small and I became withdrawn, sad and depressed. I can now say that this way of being was a form of protection because it emitted the energy of “please don’t come near me because I have been hurt by others.”
It was a way I could control others to feel sorry for me, and in that they would not be cruel and then I would feel OK. This is not to say that the many things that have happened in my life have not been utterly atrocious, and I will never condone them, but whilst I was in sympathy with myself, I was failing to acknowledge just how irresponsible I was being with other people, and the harm that I was causing by being controlling and abrasive myself.
Of course, nobody can really control me – I am only controlled when I allow myself to be controlled – and with this I began to wonder if there is some payoff for playing this sinister game, which of course, there is.
The payoff for me was to be liked and accepted by others, so I overlooked another’s controlling ways and learned how to work around them in my own controlling way. This meant that I always had family, a friend or a partner – someone to give the impression that I was cared about and that I belonged. I opted for something far less than love.
– Control at Work –
In the organisation where I work, the environment is one of extreme control. The whole organizational structure is built around control with complex policy to keep the mind busy jumping through hoops, administering strict procedures and protocol, and controlling what can be said and how people behave.
Lately in my own team we opened up a conversation about control, and most people admitted to being controlling when workloads get out of control. Stress is a good indicator that we will turn to control as a means of getting by – controlling in our work and controlling people.
I have partaken in the game of control myself, where I have placed more importance on outcomes than people. For instance, I know that there have been times where I have wanted to get something approved at work, but I knew that the other person would not approve it if they felt that I wanted it too much or if the idea did not come from them.
I played to their arrogance and purposely dulled myself down by making myself submissive, small and even unintelligent, so that others felt important. And yet selling out like this was no different to those who I may have accused as controlling… it’s on the same scale and it comes from the same place.
Many years ago I was given a role in the organisation for 12 months which had a higher level of positional power. There was something so tantalising about power and the chance for recognition, particularly when you have spent a lifetime feeling suppressed. I became arrogant, self-important and demanding. By the time I left the role I was afraid of myself.
– A Bitter Pill to Swallow –
Instead of addressing issues at work around control or abuse, generally I would bring it home and control my family. I became caught up in getting things I wanted, and in how and when I wanted them done. None of this was about love.
This realisation was a bitter pill to swallow, but it was enough for me to make immediate changes in the home. I started by allowing time when I arrived home from work to process the day, by having a bath or going for a walk. This alone was powerful as it allowed me to come back to myself, where I was connected, not controlling.
My relationship with my child became more intimate, open and playful and we talked about some really difficult topics with absolute honesty. What a relief it must have been for my child to feel a deeper connection that allowed him to express with his mum.
Removing control from the home had the added effect of sending the issue back to the place where it should have been addressed in the first place – the workplace or the person with whom the tension was initially felt.
It was time to start talking things through and not holding back from expressing myself in the moment that the control was felt.
– Reclaiming the Power Within –
The missing ingredient all along was a deep and tender love for myself.
As love became my new foundation, it unleashed a power within, a true power, with absolute responsibility not to harm, nor to play the game of compliance. This true power comes from honouring oneself, re-connecting to love, speaking Truth and trusting without any doubt what I feel in each and every moment.
It no longer mattered to me if another admitted to the issue or not, it was just about responding to the situation and providing an opportunity to express myself and deepen my relationships.
I observed how expressing from the power within was exposing for those who felt secure that our arrangement would never expose the truth. There were times when people appeared uncomfortable, but I was committed to making life about love and about truth and from there everything changed.
I discovered that my ultimate power, far greater than positional power, is the power I hold within myself to not be swayed by manipulation, control and abuse; to not dull down who I am and pander to the arrogance of another, but to take command of the one thing that I can actually control – or CHOOSE – and that is the quality of the energy that I live.
If we re-connect to ourselves and live life through the body and not just the head, if we speak from the inner heart, then there is nothing to control as control dissipates as we surrender to the flow of life.
Living in a way that honours our connection can give obstacles a new perspective: there is space to achieve whatever needs to be achieved, we express lovingly and truthfully, we stop looking for recognition and our drive for an outcome is a thing of the past. We can then read the behaviour of others around us and bring a deeper understanding as to what is really happening in any given situation.
Re-Connection – that’s the answer, and that’s my choice.
Thank you to Serge Benhayon for reminding me of the love that I am.