Mar 23, 2009

Controlling power

When I say, the word "control", what comes to your mind?

Is control a force you want to have more off in your life?

I believe that the way you use control is one of your keys to life satisfaction and performance.

Control is a force which can be wasted. Take for instance most political talk going on in cafes. Check for a second the amount of energy you spend sometimes trying to influence events which are beyond your sphere of influence.

Control is very precious. Not in the sense of controlling others. This is already an abuse very often. No, we talk about another type of control: the control you can have over what is yours.

When you build a fence around your property, you define very exactly what is yours and what isn't. What you are saying is: "Everything inside this fence belongs to me. Everything outside this fence is beyond my authority."

When you try to control what is beyond your territory, you simply tend to waste energy.

Trying to control other people's lives is a waste of time and energy! Of course there are systems and organizations which create delegation of power. This happens in organizations and politics. they are agreed transfers of power. An organization naturally needs some form of control to be sustained. Nowadays, network organizations which empower and free their members to the maximum seem to be the future. This means that control is minimal so that individual and small teams creativity is maximized.

But let's come back to you and your life. Where and how do you use control? Here are some possible examples:
  • Parenting
  • Work
  • Coworkers
  • Personal space
  • Thoughts and emotions
  • Relationship
  • Diet
  • Time frame
  • Government's directions
  • Environmental issues
You can use two forms of controlling power: One is real control. Another is influence.

You can see with these various areas that you have very little influence over some of these areas (for instance: the government's directions and choices... You use your vote and that's about it). Environmental issues can as well be far beyond your control. You can take action, and manifest disapproval and have long conversations with friends about it. The truth is that it can create an ongoing stream of worries where no matter how hard you try situations do not shift.

Parenting: In that case, some of the controlling power of your children is delegated to you. You receive extra authority and responsibility. This extra power is given to you by an instinctual parenting arrangement (the way it happens in nature). It is an arrangement which is sponsored as well by society (there is a legal set up which explains exactly what the rights of parents and children are).

Your thoughts and emotions: here we enter into a new territory. your thoughts and emotions are definitely within your sphere of influence. same for personal space, etc.

When a couple splits, It is very often related with control issues. One or both partners feel that their personal and mind space gets constricted to the point of them not being able to evolve anymore. This can easily be translated as an overuse of controlling power from one or both partners.

The need to protect the family space gives your some extra power. This extra power is sealed in the form of a marriage for instance or a mutual commitment to the relationship (moral agreement). Now imagine what happens when you partner goes around flirting with someone else. Your protective power wakes up and your reinforce your control over your partner so that he or she does not run away with someone else. Jealousy is originally simply a way of expressing that power. It is a psychic power or pressure which is simply struggling to stay in control.

Now, irrational fear and doubts can trigger you to overuse controlling power. Literally you become over jealous and start limiting your partner's inner space. You react to their freedom and simply tend to oppose their moves.

This is the moment the relationship can literally die. It stops breathing! All that because of irrational fears and trying to have greater control over someone else's life.

When you love someone, you don't limit that person's dreams and desires. Loving means offering support, care and being truly happy for someone else's success. What brings you to overuse control is the fact that you love the relationship or the marriage more than your partner. You are attached to the security of the relationship. In the name of protecting the marriage, you might kill your partner's dreams.

Control can kill life force. It can kill the natural flow of energies and simply block evolution. When this happens, tension builds up until the destructive power overcomes the limiting controlling forces. What happens then? Break up, drama, divorce, separation. Evolution always finds a way to keep moving.

If the relationship space is over controlled and there is not enough freedom for individual growth this destructive force (can as well be called freeing or renewal) starts building up until it reaches the breaking point.

Why is this happening? Overuse of controlling power from one or both partners. Control limits the free flow of energy and life force and tries to stop evolution for a while.

The same can happen with your personal life, with political systems, with friendship, career, businesses, etc.

It is always the same combination dynamic: overuse or misuse of control.

Time to use your wisdom: if you feel that you are overusing control in one area or another you have a few options:


Situation 1

The first one is to transmute a controlling force into a protective one: If you have a dog and a property with a fence around it, you can keep the dog leashed or you can leave it free within the limits of the property.

1. fence + leash = control + control

2. fence + freedom = control + protective power

You express your protective power by feeding the dog.

As you can see, situation 1 brings saturation. The dog might become extra aggressive. Situation 2 means balance. Some power, some protection.

This example is symbolical but the same type of situation can happen for hundreds of life situations involving your controlling power and the way you use it.


Situation 2

You can reorient your controlling power. Here is a classical couple situation: you are not really satisfied with your career. On the other hand your partner is doing great and would like to take it one step further with a new business idea. When your partner mentions the idea, you come with all sorts of suggestions. You later get frustrated because your ideas or not being used or even taken seriously.

In that case, you are trying to influence your partner's professional moves. It is basically beyond your sphere of control but still within some sphere of light influence. He asks you for support, you give back controlling influence.

The obvious solution for this situation is to transfer your controlling power and simply use it on what belongs to you: your own career.

What often happens is that you transfer your controlling power to your partner's business choices simply because you don't know how to take control over your own career.

Imagine what would happen if you direct your controlling power on your own life and use it to transform and move forward with your career path. This would of course have greater impact because it is your life. That's where you are supposed to use you control.


Control is a force you can use first on your own life. I would say that what is left or extra can be transmuted into a more protective or preserving style.

For instance, as a parent, you can shift from controlling to protective style. What does this mean? Opening your arms around a person rather than shutting down on their space. It means supporting their dreams and desires, focusing on their potentials, etc.

Power delegation within organizations often requires a similar set of choices. Your leadership or management style is crucial. The way you use your power will either lead to success or to failure.

Control is an incredible force. You have a certain amount of it and what truly matters and makes a difference is where and how you use it.


If you feel your present balance of power is not working and is sabotaging your life, you can do something about it. Using your power is a skill you can train and learn. It is very easy to assess what you want and the results you create.

A second natural direction for developing your controlling skills is to gain back control over what is yours.

If what you want and what you create do not match, it is simply because somewhere along the line energy is misoriented or wasted.