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”).