Control: Internal vs. External
One meaning of control is “to have power over”. Regardless of our rank or position in life, the bottom line is: The only person over whom we have power of control is ourselves.
Regardless of our rank or position in life, no one can control you to make you do anything you do not wish to do. We can cajole, threaten, humiliate, reward, bribe, punish or instigate other creative measures to control another, but if the upper hand is gained, it is only because he chose to give in to our request/demand. If we are willing to accept the outcome, no one can make us do anything we do not wish to do.
As the defiant lad said, “I may be sitting down on the outside but I am standing up on the inside!” The action may have changed but not necessarily the attitude.
The lad was not controlled. The child chose to sit because to continue in his current action would bring pain. The child internally chose to externally control himself. The one issuing the mandate may mistakenly think he controlled the child.
And thus sets up the power struggle of the human condition.
When we push for control we make it about us. We overcome when we realize that the stressor is more about us than it is about him/her/them. That is not to discount that he is being a royal jerk! It is to become aware that the only person over whom we have control is me and, therefore, I do not have to respond in kind to his behavior, attitude or offense.
Responding in kind is to give back in equivalent to what has been received. Just because he has been rude, impatient and aggressive, does not mean that I get to be defensive, frustrated and antagonistic. The less we exercise personal control the more control we try to wield over others.
Conversely, the more internal personal control we exercise – the more we choose to have power over our thoughts, our actions and our emotions – the less controlling we will be of others.
Everything that happens to you is self-created. Whenever you're responding to any
situation, whether it's a sip of coffee, or a traffic jam, or a love note, or criticism
from a boss, or rainy weather, you're in fact responding to a signal that you
generated within yourself.” -- Deepak Chopra
Once you buy into being aware and put personal responses into practice, you become empowered internally that influences externally. Control of self – your thoughts, your actions and your emotions - is a high form of power/control. Trying to control another backfires into making them push back with equal or greater force (whether that force is aggressive or passive). When we give up controlling techniques we are in a greater position to influence the positive.