Sunday, September 1, 2013

Right and Wrong Ways to Achieve a Sense of 'Control'

I have developed a simple theory on the cause of most dysfunctional human behavior. Perhaps it is too simple. But this is it:

Everyone wants to exercise some level of control in their lives, and there's nothing bad about that. All choice is an exercise of control. Dysfunctional human behavior results when people lack an adequate sense of control and they therefore resort to unhealthy methods of regaining a feeling of control: a manner damaging to self or others. I think all forms of tyranny result from someone feeling that he does not have enough control (even if he's a nation's dictator, he feels inadequate about control) and therefore trying to control others through the threat of violence.

In response to this, many people say, "Stop trying to control stuff! Just be satisfied with how you don't have control."

That is an entirely losing proposition. If someone feels that he doesn't have enough control over his life, you won't persuade him against the dysfunction by telling him that it's good to cede control.

I think this is a better approach: acknowledge that the desire for control is actually very healthy; the real problem is the manner in which one is trying to maintain or obtain control. The search for control in a dysfunctional manner has damaging results and, in the long run, the person who wants to have control will up end with less of it. Therefore, it is best to show that person how there are much healthier, more humane, more peaceable methods of finding control in one's life.