Monday, August 11, 2008


I have this theory. I think it holds water, but it is still just a theory. I theorize that all animals have the desire to control some things in their environment. And I think when they perceive that they are not in control of those things that are of importance to them, they experience distress.

Oh, sure, it's a little more complex than that. To have no desire whatsoever to control anything, i.e. to willingly concede all control to another, is unhealthy. And to desire control over everything is unhealthy. Not to mention unrealistic.
Some animals (this includes humans) are satisfied with just a little control, and some demand control of nearly everything they encounter. In some circumstances, the ones who are satisfied with a little control encounter the ones who like to control lots of things. They may be attracted to one another and live harmoniously. In their relationship, their needs are being met, and they feel balanced.

Balance is the key. Even in the most egalitarian relationships, power and control shifts from one side to the other. One partner may be terrific with money; therefore, the responsibility of paying the bills is handed over to that individual. Meanwhile, the other partner takes charge of event planning. The shift is acceptable as long as balance is achieved and negotiation takes place.

When balance is not achieved, one is likely to look elsewhere to find control and restore internal order. The boss yells at the man who goes home and criticizes his wife who then spanks the child who turns and kicks the dog who chases the cat who throws up on the new Oriental rug.

I propose that there are lots of ways people seek control, and not many of them are very functional in the long run. Substance abuse. Violence. Theft. Manipulation. Cruelty. Eating disorders. Dissociation. These seem to provide some immediate relief but can easily spiral, leaving the individual feeling even more helpless.

One problem with theories is that they don't always come with solutions. In other words, I don't have a cure for feeling out of control. I feel it often. But if it is true that the healing is in the telling, then maybe it is helpful to learn to recognize when control is taken from us and to verbalize a need to restore balance.

And... if anyone figures out how to do that, please let me in on your secret.


BB said...

I'd be curious to know what all of your friends, family, and others who love you think about this.

amcnew said...

You didn't say what YOU think about this issue...

BB said...


Love the line about the Oriental rug.

Think you're quite right about this.


B. Briscoe
Elsewhere, Texas

amcnew said...

The cat always wins. Period.

Melinda said...

As someone who loves her, is friend and family, cleaner of dog throw up (I don't have a cat or an oriental rug), too often giver over of control, I must aver. I've throughly examined her. Not only is she really right, she's really most sincerely right.

With love,

Your sister of the heart

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