That word prompted the thought, “the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Naturally, in evolutionary terms, survival was of prime importance, so the more “control” we had, the better our odds. To that end, as support, we’ve been given the benefit of strong biochemical “nudges” to help us in the face of danger (e.g. the fight-or-flight reaction). Our need for control runs so deep because it’s attached to our very basic physiological and safety [essential] requirements (you may be aware of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). Nowadays we work hard to ensure we avoid illness and injury and that we keep a roof over our heads and food on our table.
The worst way we think about control is when we imagine or experience another having it over us; no one likes to feel powerless or vulnerable. Though the “control freak” moniker is extreme, we probably all have a bit of this going on… maybe we think our way of organising our desk is the best hands-down, or there is only one right way the toilet paper roll should go, or perhaps we have even been inauthentic at times to “control” another person’s impression of us….
What about when it’s not in relation to other people, but things? We know we can’t control e.g. the weather, eventual aging, certain physiological responses, etc. although we are making advances in those areas (even when it comes to our DNA – from gene splicing to epigenetics).
Let’s get to the wider scope of this subject. Gretchen Rubin says that, according to research, “A key component to happiness is a SENSE of control over your life. The more you perceive yourself to be in control, the better you feel.”* This concept covers things like being able to predict what will happen, feeling confident people and things are consistent, understanding how stuff works, and being able to complete outstanding responsibilities so we don’t have to be concerned about them.
We spend a lot of time every day participating in activities that give us a sense of control. Think about the numerous rituals that reassure us everything is as it was, and the social norms we adhere to – because when everyone follows the rules we feel some sense of control. Here’s an interesting bit: research indicates that people who have a higher sense of control tend to feel pain less intensely.
So, is control good, bad, ugly? We have only scratched the surface here, and haven’t even addressed the “ugly,” like perfectionism and the inability to deal with uncertainty. Truly, we cannot control everything, really anything (e.g. become injured and maybe your plan crumbles), that lies ahead of us. Clearly, there are many facets to “control,” subjects of another blog perhaps….
Is there a best use of control? What about having it over oneself? Going a step further, what about having it over one’s thoughts? Consider that it leads to the most joyful, fulfilling life possible: https://www.facebook.com/dawncady.mindsetcoach/photos/a.398674654054717/416639862258196/?type=3&theater