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3.08.2010

Mind of a control freak - redux

The last time I explored the mind of a control freak, I looked through the lens of inner turmoil and problematic self control. That write-up remains one of my most read posts in the past four years here. My current exploration of closed and open minds gives me a more detailed way to take a look at the mind of a control freak. Both the control freak, and anyone getting controlled, are suffering from closing their own minds.

Control freaks cannot make the distinction between those who need control and those who do not. Their minds are closed to the possibility that some of us are capable of effective self control. Control freaks come across as too controlling, in part, because everyone appears to them as in need of more imposed structure, criticism and corrective action. They cannot let go, or "live and let live" because they are faced with others who appear perilously "out of control".

It's human nature to react to getting excessive interference from control freaks by closing our minds irrationally. We resent the imposition, tyranny and misunderstanding of our good intentions, work in progress or ongoing explorations. We act out our frustrations and fail to take the imposition in stride. We inadvertently provide evidence that we are "out of control" that convinces control freaks that they are right about us. We bring no understanding to the situation or the possibility of contributing to the condition. To us, the control freak appears to be wrong, over-bearing and insensitive. Both see the other as "out of control", in need of control and incapable of self control. Everyone has closed their minds to any other possibility.

Whenever someone appears to be out of control, the relationship involves unresolved and hidden control issues. These issues involve who's responsible, who has final say, who can change what's been already decided and who's the best judge of a situation. The resolutions of these issues enable control freaks to back off, trust the ongoing process and rely on others to play their part. But closed minds rule out these viable solutions, inherent common ground or developmental processes. The other people do not appear to be understandable or capable of resolving these issues. Rather they seem like a things that are not changing, defective objects that need to be fixed or machines that need to be turned down, turned off or turned around. There seem to be no issues to resolve, only out-of-control people in need of more imposed control.

When our minds are open, we see all this I've just described. In other words, we see what is happening to everyone and why it does not stop. We sense what issues are in need of resolution. Most importantly, we see the others very differently. With our open minds, we can see situations through their eyes and look at ourselves from their point of view. We can consider possible ways we've contributed to the misunderstandings and appearances of our needing control. We can own the fact that we closed our minds when under siege. We see others continually changing, coming to new realizations and rethinking what is not working as they intended. We may see the control freak going through a passing phase, wrestling with a troubling issue or stressing out about a pending situation. We can come up with ways to lower the shared anxiety level, to ease the mutual tensions and to improve the atmosphere. We can support the control freak becoming more aware of all these complications and interdependencies, as I've just done.

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