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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Control Freaks: Top down vs. bottom up.

My wife and I were talking about control freaks we've had in our lives.  A common refrain I've heard about controlling people is that they to try to control out of fear.  I think there is a large element of truth to that, but I don't necessarily think that all people try to control out of fear or if they do not necessarily do it all the time.  I think some people tend to be controlling because 'they can'.  That is they like the power of being able to 'control' others.  So, it occurred to me how could I differentiate the two?  What I came up with is a concept of top down vs. bottom up.  So, here is my concepts for what it is worth.

TOP DOWN Controller (Macro)
  • They may start to exhibit their controlling behavior out of fear, but ultimately when they have gained power, it is to keep or expand their power.
  • Look to control for power, to dominate others.
    • Have a greater likelihood of being a megalomaniac.
    • Often clothe their 'need' for controlling others in being interested in the welfare of others.
    • Even while expressing their concern for the welfare of others, they themselves seem to find a way to benefit nicely from their use of power.
  • Have a super-sized ego.
    • Have the sense that only they know what is best.
    • Consider themselves as great or greater than their message.  In other words, not only do I know better, but I'm also tend to be the best (or only one) to implement what I think is best for everyone.
  • The ends justify the means in many cases.  In other words, while I am not necessarily authorized to exert the power I am--and in some cases it is unethical--I am justified in exerting the power for the 'good of everyone'.  In other words, there is an element of malevolence to their attempts to control, even if they don't recognize it.
  • Control over others tends to be more global rather than situation specific.

BOTTOM UP Controller (Micro)
  • Tend to control out of fear, rather than a secret need for power.
    • If I don't do this myself it won't get done (and it may reflect poorly on me).
    • Yielding too much control can or will make me vulnerable.
  • Not necessarily addicted to generalized power.  Tend to seek control over certain people in certain circumstances. 
  • May have a certain arrogance in their area of control (I know better), but their control is as much to seek some or self-protection (or those they are charged with).
  • Would tend to have an ability to give up control in areas that they don't care too much about or where they feel reasonable secure.  

I think everyone seeks some level of control in their life.  I think it's common to see oneself as not being controlling at all, but I believe that most people exhibit a certain desire/need to control people and circumstances in their life.  In my opinion, where the need for control becomes a problem is:
  • It interferes with a healthy and respectful relationship with others around you.  That is to say there seems to be a need to step on someone's toes because a) a lack of trusting the other to do the right, proper or effective thing b) "knowing" that you can do whatever needs to be done right.
  • It results in a loss of appropriate freedom and liberty for others.

There are places in life however where control is appropriate and appropriately deferred (and placed in the hand of others):
  •  Adolescents necessarily would tend to have to earn 'control' with responsibility, ultimately deferring control or decision-making to their parents.
  • Students control to the teachers/staff in adolescences and adulthood defer a lessor degree of control to their professors.
  • Subordinates, especially as it relates to their employment, would tend to have to defer control or decision-making to their bosses.  Similar dynamic with subordinates deferring control to their leaders in the military.
But I digress, even in those cases authority is usually earned.

I don't have a big overarching conclusion to this blog.  I would say though that is important to exercise control judiciously where it is given/earned/expected, be willing to defer control where it is appropriate or helpful, and always to remember that control is as much a responsibility as a privilege.  It shouldn't be taken lightly and if if mishandled can be subject to being taken away.  That being said, I'm deferring control of the words of this blog post to my readers to be used as is beneficial in their lives.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Truth is truth regardless of who believes it...

I get the feeling that I have written about this before, but perhaps it isn't a bad thing revisiting it.  Anyway as I have indicated, I am very weary of writing blog posts which could be construed as too political.  I have my political takes and I sometimes express them in other forums and sometimes express them to people in over the phone or in-person discussions, however, I am very wary of expressing in this blog.  Politics has a way of dividing people that in many cases would willing to listen to you otherwise.  This blog has never been meant to be about politics, but instead a searching personal study on aspects of human nature and feelings, including those of addiction, codepedence and the like.  This specific post is meant to be to some extent a push-back on a culture of conventional wisdom and a realization that the truth is out there and it will be what it is regardless of how widely it is embraced or not.   We just have to be brave enough and put down our preconceived notions long enough to accept it, especially when it goes against all that we've been tough.

As a teenager I struggled with my faith.  One part of my struggle was seeing others portray themselves as pious Christians. yet from what I saw, their actions did not match their words/portrayal.  For example, I would hear other teens (and adults) express their faith publicly, but when in smaller groups or around others they'd engage in gossip/speech that differed little behaviorally from the 'secular'.  In other words, instead of setting themselves apart and leading by example, they were followers of 'worldly'.  Also, I was very awkward as a teenager and the Christian faith as I understood (and understand) it encourages us to love our neighbors and to embrace those the 'throwaways', the 'unpopular', the 'forgotten'.   More often than not, I didn't feel that I was accepted by even the "Christians" community.  Since then I've come to the understanding and acceptance that just because you have a faith doesn't mean that you are a) immune to secular influences or b) that you are fully mature in your faith (especially in the teenage years).  I was focused on their failing and how it made me feel.

A funny thing happened on the way to heaven (as I like to say).  I had an epiphany one day--on my road to Damascus.  It came in the form of a simple math equation.  Namely that 1 + 1 = 2, regardless of who does the equation or whether or not the person behaves as if it is.  In other words,

  • If you purchased two items at the dollar store, the cost will be $2.  
    • It doesn't matter if the you give the clerk $3 dollars and walk off thinking you've paid him/her the right amount.  
    • It doesn't matter whether the clerk demands $3 for $2 worth of goods.  Either way the cost is $2.  
  • Likewise, it doesn't matter if others around you who claim to be of your faith live as if they believe the articles of faith.  The faith will be true (or not true) independent of who actually shows fidelity to it.  God existence for example, is not dependent on who accepts it.
  • A bitterly cold day is bitterly cold regardless of how much you wish it were otherwise.
  • And so on...
Some things are just true because they are true.  No amount of wishing or thinking otherwise changes them.  Life is full of shades of grey, but not everything is a shade of grey.  Paradoxically, that is a form of black and white thinking. See: Sometimes black and white (either/or) thinking is good. Avoiding it can be itself black and white thinking.  Obviously in life it is important not to be too rigid in your thinking that you miss the obvious that is outside of your viewpoint.   However, it is just as important to be willing to accept truths and stick to them regardless of how much support you have in expressing or holding them.

So, let's all have civil discussions on issues of the day, but be willing to listen to a point of view that is contrary to yours.  However, if the truth of one of your viewpoints is utterly clear and provable, stick to your guns, do not be bullied into questioning, disowning or disposing of that viewpoint. 

Thoughts for a new year...
-- Rich