On Control

Create disorder

Apply new rules and boundaries

Bingo! You’re in charge!


n.b. The need of many people to have control of as much as possible in life seems to be rooted in anxiety.

Exerting control of the immediate environment and surrounding people reduces initial anxiety levels. It leads to very tidy living spaces and regular habits, but can also make relationships difficult to sustain. It can lead to the dropping of friends, partners, even close family members, who may not comply, or play along with the individual’s need to completely run their own show.

Of course, we all want the world to stop from time to time. Life has many challenges and other people are wriggly and inconsistent, hard to read and strangely human. “Hell is other people” wrote Jean-Paul Sartre and for some this can be true, but thankfully people can learn and change.

Living alongside, working with and loving people is hard work from time to time, as (thankfully) people can never be totally controlled, despite the endeavours of authoritarians.

It seems that learning to ride the peaks and troughs created by other people, being inclusive and learning to enjoy a bit of give and take, (although tricky for an anxious person – me included), is the healthiest approach.

We need someone to show us how to live in such a way, ideally this would have been our parents, but if that hasn’t been possible, we must look out for each other by offering helping hands, sharing and loving.

I believe that if we can enjoy the happiness of others, then happiness will come to us.

Happiness is other people…ask any grandmother!


CLP 14/08/2020


  1. Taking charge of one’s own destiny is one’s one responsibility….

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting on my post, Barbara.

      Yes, having a sense of autonomy is vital, but I was writing about controlling behaviour and why it is applied by anxious people within their social network. You are writing about a slightly different topic.

      Destiny / Fate is not something that one can charge; it is by definition set by the gods, fortune, societal norms and prejudices, environment, place of birth and inherited genes.

      The quality of our social interactions is what most influence our life quality, but where ever we head those who are happiest are at ease with others and do not feel the need to rule the roost. This does not mean they do not have the ability to contribute, lead, influence, but above all they are social people who have positive, stable relationships.

      It is also important to understand that controlling behaviour is not a constant, but something that emerges during periods of high personal stress and anxiety, phases in life that can rise and fall due to various factors, so taking a longer view and working through these stressful periods is important, with increasing self-awareness of both / all involved.

      There is plenty to read on this these days because of the rise to prominence of Trump and Johnson.

      The self-help industry feeds commercially on the anxieties present in modern society, encouraging self-centred behaviour, as a way to deal with everything that makes people anxious, but it makes money by promising to have secrets that, for a few dollars a month, or year can be revealed. Snake oil salesmen / saleswomen of the Internet.

      A little meditation each day, to support self-composure and remind us of who we are in a complex social and busy world is proven to be very helpful in establishing good mental health, self-confidence, but this is a long way from controlling destiny, as our fate is entwined with that of those we live with and which is why cooperation and supportive behaviours are highly respected within more equitable societies and selfish actions are discouraged.

      This is epitomised in the Christian principle of “Love thy neighbour” and developed further in the Muslim faith by reiterating that humans are just one of their god’s creations and they should be mindful of all of them, not just humans and animals, but the natural environment too. Of course, other religions, or which I am less aware offer similar insights from their own particular roots.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting in this post. It would be lovely to talk about this fascinating theme one day.


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