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Control is the Opposite of Respect

Posted Aug 13 2009 8:02pm

I was on a plane circling JFK due to bad weather when the man next to me engaged me in conversation. He was the CEO of a small company that had just hired a psychologist to consult. He prided himself on soliciting input from the staff beneath him and he remarked “I always know where our conversations will end up.” I laughed and drew him the two drawings that accompany this entry.  If you have already decided on the end result and then solicit other opinions you are not genuinely on a path that respects another point of view.(see first illustration) get-attachment-1.aspx

If you truly incorporate someone else’s point of view then you have no way of knowing where you will end up. The test of every relationship is disagreement and whether or not it is respected. Uncertainty allows something new to emerge and grow by respecting both points of view. (see second illustration)

Both our state and federal government have gotten more polarized. In PA people with different politics used to share housing, eat meals and golf together. Now, they no longer do. Today, self righteousness about one viewpoint is everywhere. No one can grow as long as they are mired in one point of view.

Couples get stuck because they are certain only one of them is right. All day long it has really become effortless to walk the path in between people. Both people make sense and have something to teach each other. How have we evolved to be so fragile that we grip so tightly onto only one way of looking at things?

Control means deciding that you know what’s best for somebody else. There is a massive pile of disrespect in the previous sentence. When parents want to control their children’s grades they are depriving them of the opportunity to learn from their own mistakes. We all learn more from mistakes than success. It’s funny to recall the fifth grade science fair and which projects had obviously been done by parents. Control means squelching the opportunity to learn from the environment. Control means calling the teacher on the carpet and you are just so certain your child has turned in all their homework (because they said so). Control is an implicit part of codependency. Control is a certainty in knowing that lacks the humility of true wisdom. Control is played out by the actress Tilda Swinton as the mother of an 18 yr.old gay son about to leave for college in the movie The Deep End. By the end of the movie he leaves without ever learning anything about his first big mistake in false love. The mother asks him once if he did anything, and he gives her an honest answer that she completely ignores. Control is surrounding yourself with only that which is familiar; you will only date within your own ethnic group, you will only get straight A’s, you will hate your father because he had an affair and if you don’t I won’t love you. Control is based on presumptuous ideas that the other person is not taking care of themselves and you must steer the ship for them which ultimately is a profound lack of respect. Control is deciding you have the answers and you aren’t really interested in input from anyone else. Most couples who end up divorced do so because of a lack of respect.

illustration #2

illustration #2

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