Behaviour Power and Control

The Right Kind Of Control

If we value peace of mind, and I think it is one of the best of values, it is vital that we avoid harming other people as far as that is possible. To do this we must develop a powerful sense of self-constraint. This cannot be accomplished unless we accept every aspect of our own natures, also as far as that is possible. This is the most valuable kind of control. All the best leaders aim at maintaining it to a great extent. I have in mind many different kinds of leaders, whether they were great military commanders, entrepreneurs, prime ministers and outstanding teachers to take a few examples. They have to have outstandingly good judgement, a very rare quality.

In military situations the following is necessary for commanders:

They have to have the ability to make painful decisions as well as welcomed ones.

They have to understand the people who follow them so well that they know they can trust them to take responsibility for the positions that they hold.

They have to have the courage to make unpopular decisions when they realise that they are necessary in crisis situations.

They do not feel sorry for anybody in hard times because they know that everyone they lead must take full responsibility for themselves however dangerous the situation must be.

They do not curry favour with anyone. Those who follow them into battle know that, accept orders without question and have great respect for them.

In the business world the situation is different but similar.

Everyone who works in a company needs to feel that all the employees are valued by their leader.

If the leader treats them well and allows them the freedom to make the best of their qualities they will earn his respect and will trust him to make the best decisions for the welfare of the business.

Whether the leaders are men or women, military generals or company directors, the well-being of both organisations has to be continually attended to. In dire situations, both have to make painful decisions for the benefit of the whole. Despite such matters, in every situation, they owe it to themselves to exercise self-constraint, especially over their own human emotions.

In everyday situations, we all have times when we are not sure what is the right path to follow. We can never be certain. However, we too have to have the strength to make decisions that may cause someone pain. We must be quite sure about our motives in such a situation. What can make the greatest harm is to try to run other people’s lives. The right kind of control is always self-control combined with good judgement.

Power and Control

Overcoming Power The Easy Way

There are a whole lot of unwritten rules about how we ‘ought’ to respond when someone says something to us. We have learned from what we have heard in the talk that goes on around us as we gradually acquire the gift of words. We are told that these rules constitute ‘good manners’. It makes talk easier and quicker to manage once we have assimilated them.

The ideas about what ‘good manners’ are vary in different cultures. However the reason that we need them is meant to help us not to disconcert or upset other people.

When I was a child we were taught to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when we made a request or received a gift. No-one could argue about that. Yet it is slowly dying out and that is a pity. Families sat round the table together for meals and that happens less and less. The strength of the family is important because it gives us the chance to talk to each other in these busy times.

However, what do we say when someone asks us a question we don’t want to answer or gives us an order we resent? Do you have to answer? Do you have to obey? It depends on the circumstances. Small children were often exploited in this way when I was small. In the Victorian era and earlier it was much worse. All sorts of rules operated such as ‘children should be seen but not heard’ and ‘Do what you are told’. These have died out on the whole which is a good thing.

If an adult says something that is clearly meant as malicious or intrusive then we have every right to reply as we wish. If we retaliate by saying ‘mind your own business’ or that sort of thing, it is likely that you could end up in an argument. There are several things you can do to prevent it. A useful one is ‘why do you ask that question?’ or ‘would you please say that again. I have poor hearing?’ If you reply in a friendly fashion and they repeat what they have said it often helps them to see that they have made a faux pas. If they are so thick-skinned as not to notice, just say goodbye in a friendly way and walk off.

On the whole most of us don’t mean to be unpleasant, and if we give an unexpected answer and a smile the sour atmosphere will begin to clear. If someone confronts us in a tearing rage looking for an argument, the best thing to do is to stay calm or in an extreme case to run away. It takes two to tango.

You can say anything you like when people say disagreeable things. It can be a lot of fun. My deceased husband was a pastmaster at disconcerting people. We were at a party and we met a couple who looked about the same age as ourselves. The husband said to Bob “How old do you think I am?” This is one of those words that old people say when they like to think they look younger than they are.

Having scrutinised him carefully, Bob said “I should think about one hundred and twenty”. There was not anything he could say to that. He just gazed in astonishment.

Power and Control

The Power Of You!

We don’t know how much power we have as individuals. Most of us underrate ourselves. Remember that we are all unique which means that all of us know things others don’t know. If we are truthful we are sure we have all felt envious of others for one reason or another. We all do or say things we don’t really mean and then regret them afterwards. A great waste of time is taken up in many people’s lives beating themselves up for such silly reasons.

Many clients have begun a first session by telling me they have spent years trying to solve their own problems by thinking about them. They believe because they have built a business or have been to university that they should be able to solve such a ‘simple’ thing as knowing how to improve a close relationship. I pass on to them what a fellow therapist taught me many years ago: “You have not been thinking, what you have been doing is ruminating, in other words, worrying.” Many clever people confuse the two.

Their problems were not understanding themselves better. Our inner life, what Freud called the unconscious, is hidden from us. In our search for perfection, we don’t wish to acknowledge things about ourselves about which we are ashamed. We want other people to appreciate us. In order for this to happen, so they think, they create a false image of themselves as their idea of ‘a nice person’. It is impossible for us to keep it up continuously. People like this fall in and out of love with astonishing rapidity and then complain that no-one is good enough for them.

The only pathway to practise real, effective psychotherapy, is to help clients to have the courage to look at all the things they don’t like about themselves. Only then will they realise that every part of themselves can be useful.

It is paradoxical that the most cruel of dictators, for example Hitler and Stalin fooled themselves that they knew how to run a country successfully. Their mistrust and hatred was reflected in their private lives and extended to large groups of people.

The answer is obvious. The more we acknowledge all our feelings, positive and negative,

the more we can be kind to them and to everyone else.

I do not think organised religion is useful, but there are plenty of good ideas in most of them as well as plenty that are not. Remember everything has its opposite. Two of my favourites are:

“Love thy neighbour as thyself” and “The love of money is the cause of all evil.”

People who do not understand the meanings leave out the words in italics.

If we are brave enough to examine ourselves in depth, as have such outstanding men as Spinoza and Erasmus, we have unlimited power to control ourselves and all we do and think.

Power and Control

Power Mad

The meaning of words is constantly changing as the social world changes. Shakespeare for example talked about ‘a naughty world’. He meant ‘a wicked world’. ‘Wicked’ itself has been changed by adolescents into ‘great’. Great is still used as in ‘a great man’ but it is also used in ‘we had a great time’.

‘Power’ has always been associated with leaders of all kinds. It also means the power of the universe, the power of nature which has been of great value to us in so many ways. Yes. It can also be destructive as there are two sides to every benefit.

How we have come to feel ambivalent, and rightly so, about power, is when it is wielded by people who want to tell others what to do. Control and patronize are names for two kinds of power that have fallen into disrepute. For this reason. Governments in many countries tend more and more to increase their power over us. In our own country this power is unfortunately used to try to get professionals to carry out their work in one way only. This has caused great dissatisfaction when such people as teachers and doctors are interfered with by people who know nothing of their subjects. The work of government is to serve the people, not to tell them what to do. This leaves no room for new ideas to come into the professions.

I have noticed the increasing use of the words ‘controlling’, and ‘patronising’. Ask yourselves if you would like to be described by these two adjectives. There is nothing wrong with the words themselves, it is the meaning we give them.

If someone says to you “You are very good at controlling people” or “Don’t patronize me” would you say “Thank you for the nice compliment”. Of course you wouldn’t. Try to work out for yourself how you might use these two words in a way that gets a grateful response. You won’t find it easy. Yet there is nothing wrong with ‘control’ . One of the best things you can do for your children is to help them to learn how to control their actions. Of course you have to be very careful to speak in a soft gentle way and phrase it with the right words so that the children do not get the wrong message.

All adults can help their children by presenting themselves as good examples. If they use their own power wisely their own children will do the same.