Power and Control

Of Course I am Right, Aren’t You?

Self-control and sound judgement have to be the foundation of a useful life. The meaning of controlling ourselves is to do the best for us because it prepares us to do the best we can in our relationships with other people.

Both control and judgement are usually misunderstood in a derogatory fashion. Think of ‘sitting in judgement’ and ‘controlling’. Are you pleased if another applies the words to you? Of course not. They sound like an attack and that is what is meant. Most teachers most of the time have learned from those who taught them that their judgement is right. Who teaches us to develop good judgement? No-one. Who teaches us to think for ourselves? No-one. How then do we learn wisdom. The answer has to be that only those who continually question everything, not with the motive that we like causing trouble, as many people do, merely to try to disconcert others. And for what purpose?

Quite recently I was told that I always think I am right. I pointed out that I come to my ideas through constant research and I am always ready to change my mind if someone else gives me a good enough argument. There are very few people who can do this. Needless to say my friend merely repeated her first statement in the same tone which was certainly not anything but an attack with no ammunitions. I tried once more to put my message over. I never say that I believe in anything without having evidence. Surely anyone who is certain about something is either a bigot or someone like me who has researched all I can to find an answer. If this is not accepted, I follow my procedure to keep my mouth shut. It would be a waste of breath.

This is where self-control comes in. We must always remember that if people hold on to strong beliefs without ever questioning them, they must be terrified of changing them. Their security rests on what they have learned from other people’s. They have not yet learned enough about themselves , especially about their darker self. Don’t we all love revenge when we fear someone knows better than we do? This is the time when we need to exert our self-control to its limits. Retaliation is a losing card. If you use it you will bring yourself down to the not-to-be-desired lowest level. If anyone cannot take part in a useful discussion, where both sides agree to listen to each other’s point of view, you cannot have what I call “a proper conversation” which is one where both sides are seeking the truth and not trying to get the better of each other.

Which brings me to the next point that most of us want to have a long-term relationship. Not a superficial one as so many are, but a situation where both sides are independent in their ways of life and work. Neither tries to make the other do what they want to do. Recognise that everyone has the right to do in all the things that matter.

If we are too needy and feel that we cannot live on our own we are unlikely to make a working relationship. All the ads. I read of people seeking a close, lifelong relationship only talk about superficial appearances. Some of them are hilariously funny, but that doesn’t help them but it entertains me!

When I was a psychotherapist I came across many long-term couples who felt they needed help. In the first session I picked up all the negative ways in which they talked to each other. Neither of them listened. Both thought they were in the right, based on no evidence at all. In my next offering I shall give some examples.

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.

Behaviour Power and Control Psychotherapy

What Type Of Controller Are YOU?

There are two kinds of controllers. The first kind is one who puts the desire to please others at all times before honesty and his own well-being. Such people initially overwhelm you with charm but gradually make you feel uneasy in their presence because you are not dealing with the real person. You are face to face with a mask. You sense the underlying lack of sincerity and feel worse after spending time with them. This is the more subtle kind of control.

The second type has a compulsive need to always be right. All dictators, benevolent or otherwise, come into this category. When taken to the worst extreme of the effort to convert, the final solution is imprisonment, torture and death. Think of the Holocaust, think of the Spanish Inquisition.

We want to control others when our own lives appear to be out of control. We all feel like this sometimes. The most obvious example is when we encourage our children to do well in all subjects at school, instead of letting them get on with the lessons they like best. A common belief is that the more ‘education’ our children have the greater the opportunities for them to get a good job and do well. It is true that children need some guidance, but it is better to wait until they ask for help, and even then we must be careful to respect the childrens’ individual gifts and ambitions.

When working with clients, we psychotherapists have the responsibility to avoid trying to change their lives on their behalf. That is for them alone to do. This is why patience and a good sense of timing are essential qualities in a professional therapist.

Bigots, victims and martyrs also exert pressure on us to believe that this is what they are and they cannot be changed. As in everything, there is a sound reason for such harmful ideas, sunk deep in their unconscious minds. They need to hang on to their beliefs like a man on a sinking ship. If they give them up they are sunk.

Fear is one of the most powerful of all human emotions and the most deadly. All controllers work from this basic belief that we must never take risks but must always do as we are told. This is their way to try to keep everyone they come into contact with, SAFE. Could you imagine anything more stultifying?

(This article is based on an extract from Dr Jean Pain’s book “So you Want to be a Therapist”).

Children Education Power and Control

Motivate by Enthusiasm

If we want to lead a satisfactory life, we do work we enjoy in the most productive way to yield good results. To achieve this it is vital that we learn how to manage motivation and control. They go hand in hand. The best preparation is to have kind parents and kind teachers who don’t force their ideas on us but notice what we like doing most and and provide the tools for us to develop our own potential.

No-one can teach us motivation but we can create an environment for children to discover what arouses enthusiasm for them. It wasn’t until I went to grammar school and heard a pupil playing on the piano that my whole being was uplifted with the beauty of an impromptu by Schubert. It opened a whole new world for me and I have loved what we call classical music ever since.

If we could only do what we enjoy doing that lifts our spirits and makes life worth living, there would be no such things as bad behaviour, cruelty and lack of attention. Surely there must be a way where we can rule out compulsory subjects for those who dislike them. I can remember how I hated outdoor group games and found all kinds of ways to avoid doing them.

Motivation and control only work when they are the positive not the negative variety. It depends on the environment. Teachers can rarely motivate children unless they happen to be teaching a subject that a child is drawn to. Motivation comes from inside potentials that are awakened by something from outside. No-one can make you be motivated by something that you don’t like. Winston Churchill loathed Latin and loved English Literature and Language and what a genius he turned out to be regardless of the opinions of his classic teachers!

The increasing regimentation of teaching in comprehensive schools, where everyone is “taught” the same things in the same way is doomed to failure.

Control is profoundly necessary in everything that matters. In schools they call it “discipline” which “they” think is subduing bad behaviour:

a) it is impossible

b) it causes unnecessary exhaustion and misery to the teachers.

The only real control is self-control: something we learn to do for ourselves. Dominating parents and teachers that use forceful tactics arouse nothing but irritation and bad behaviour. Discipline in the armed forces is a different matter because it is in a different context. Children are obliged to go to school whilst young men (and a much smaller number of women) choose to join up. As I have mentioned before when a war breaks out there has never been a lack of volunteers. They accept all kinds of uniforms, orders, rules and hard physical work gladly. They know that they must learn to obey orders at once and willingly because those tactics are there to save as many people as possible in dangerous situations.

We pay a price for everything we want to do because we want to do it as well as we possibly can. That price is self-discipline, our own inner sergeant-major that makes us do whatever we have to do to achieve what we want to achieve.

Equality General Power and Control


Equality is a dangerous word. Everything and everybody is different from everything and everybody else. To stay in a state of open-mindedness is my basic premise. Every group has rules and regulations. The worst thing about them is the uniformity.

I have just joined The British Humanist Association, mainly because of my loathing of organised religion. I opened the envelope and two round badges popped out. I popped them straight into my waste basket. How could I walk around with the two messages that conveyed, ‘happy humanist’ and ‘good without god’ ? I treat the word ‘happy’ with great reservations, only as a state of mind that is one of many. Everything is defined by its opposite. Otherwise it cannot exist. A well-balanced human experiences both misery and happiness.

As for ‘good without god’ the word ‘good’ does not exist without the word ‘evil or bad’ and the word ‘god’ has as many different meanings as there are people in the world. My particular god is that of the philosopher Spinoza for whom ‘god is nature’, one of the best definitions I have come across.

After my first introduction to psychotherapy, the first book I ever read by Freud, when I was 18 years old, I have read everything I could find out about the subject. I knew one day I would be a psychotherapist. When I was in my sixties after my book business collapsed, I felt that the time was ripe. I knew I must get some sort of qualification. At that time anyone could give training or set up as a psychotherapist. Since I had a vast knowledge of many different methods, I decided to study NLP (neurolinguistic programming) which was relatively new and looked like fun. I joined another organisation that focused on hypnosis, because I am a natural hypnotist. I didn’t realise for decades that my gift for making myself invisible was auto-hypnosis which helped me through so many boring teachers.

After the failure of my business I took myself off for a trip round the world with the few thousand

pounds I had left. When I returned I set up in private practice and very soon had a good list of clients. At that time there were no regulations although many of the trainers had their own lists of rules.

Since psychotherapy is relatively new it is only recently that it has been a subjects for universities. When that happened the government began to take it seriously. That, of course, meant that sooner or later the government would interfere.

Now there is far too much interference in the medical profession, education and now psychotherapy. The UKCP was set up after I began my practice. I didn’t have to join, but it might be necessary once the government insisted.

It has taken the government a long time to know what to do with us. After 15 years I decided to give up my practice and get on with my writing and research instead. This was three years ago. I resigned from the UKCP Why? Because I was very dissatisfied. First, I resented having to be supervised when I was working in my own way and getting very good results, and I resented the movement to regulate which method was most important. CBT was the choice. You may notice in newspapers articles that tell us that we need more CBT practitioners. Don’t believe a word of it.

Now students who want to join the profession are being led by the nose to do a four year course which is ridiculous. Psychotherapy is not a science but it is treated as such. First class therapists and first class teachers are not made by university degrees. They are creative beings just as much as musicians, writers and all other creative beings who work in their own way.

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

Group Power

Why do young men rush in to join up when war breaks out? As I said before, it can be a relief from a humdrum job. But they have other reasons. They want to defend their own country. We are territorial animals. Men like to get together in groups and indulge in male chat. Women, too, form groups but it is not as important for them and they have different topics. We are all of us social animals. Nevertheless, there has always been a number of outsiders in both sexes. I know what that is like because I am one of them. I have always worked for myself and avoided groups. I do not like being told what to do, nor do I ask for advice. I have confidence in my own judgement.

However, I am always open to new ideas. I am good at changing my mind, often at the last minute. If I had been a man I would have rushed to enlist when World War 2 broke out, but I was only ten years old.

People like me are usually engrossed in a special interest of their own. They include all creative people who put their greatest interest first. Nevertheless, I am and always have been looking out to find like-minded people.

When I look back at my life I realize that the few friends I have made have all been what you might call eccentrics. When I get deep into a book or writing or merely noticing what is going on around me wherever I might be, I enjoy being on my own. An old Italian friend once said to me that when we are alone we are in a numerous company. That is if we have got to the point where we understand ourselves and respect ourselves very well. Such people rarely feel lonely.

However, I would join in a group if I knew one where I could remain myself and be part of something. I am thinking of being in an orchestra, where all use their own talents and contribute to the whole effect, without having to give up their power at all, because a conductor is necessary and is respected. But I couldn’t do that because I am not a musician.

I believe that what draws people of all kinds together is when they are in great danger but have the power to do something about it. My husband was an officer in the army and he said it was one of the best things in his life. What interests me is that such men choose to be ordered about in many kinds of ways but they subdue themselves to it from choice. They know they must learn to be obedient to an order automatically. Such obedience means that the men react very quickly. Quick reactions to an order can save their lives.

Surprisingly enough, learning to be obedient in the army seems to have the effect on young men of disciplining themselves. Having read a brilliant book “Defeat into Victory” by Sir William Slim about the Burma Campaign it was heartwarming to read how men and officers worked well together and respected each other. Moreover they used their initiative if they got separated from their unit.

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.