"That's me", says Goofy in the Christmas Eve cartoon with a corncob in his mouth while Donald and Mickey are looking inquiringly at him. Seconds later, we see that the car keeps going on its merry way, without a driver, along steep cliffs, while Googy sits gobbling down breakfast together with his friends.

"That's me", says Goofy in the Christmas Eve cartoon with a corncob in his mouth while Donald and Mickey are looking inquiringly at him. Seconds later, we see that the car keeps going on its merry way, without a driver, along steep cliffs, while Googy sits gobbling down breakfast together with his friends.

The rest is history, as they say, for those of you who have seen the cartoon adventures of Donald Duck on Christmas Eve (or some other time). Panic, fear and chaos breaks out fairly promptly, but ultimately everything comes down in one piece, with the possible exception of the caravan.

Off course neither Donald, Mickey and Goofy contributed anything in particular to the happy ending as they were busy with something we could call crisis management.

Control and trust go hand in hand

We all have different needs for control in our relationships and ways to satisfy this demand. Like a couple, the two forces of control and confidence, go hand in hand. When we experience a high level of trust we can let go of our need for control and vice versa.

When we feel insecure

When we feel insecure and have a lack of trust then we tend to expend more energy on gaining control over the circumstances of our lives in general and our partners in particular.

Like Goofy can we sit back and enjoy the moment with a basic trust that things will turn out fine. Or we can spend a lot of energy trying to control the circumstances of our lives.

Markus: In my own personal development Goofy has truly been an idol and role model when it comes to letting go, relaxing and enjoying life.

Far from the tensionfilled need for control and more in a free flow of that was happens will happen and where one enjoys the ride.

 

What I can influence and I can not influence

There is a saying that has surfaced in different versions, but the spirit of it is something like "give me the patience to accept that which I can not change, the courage to change that which I can change and the wisdom to know the difference".

The only thing in life that we can influence no matter what happens around us, is our own attitude, how we relate to that which happens in and around us.

Filippa: I have more and more understood that I can influence what happens to me by being sincerely grateful for that which I want to happen and think of it as if it has already happened.

When I do that I feel a strong sense of gratitude and the both large and small miracles occur.

 

A concept in crisis management

In crisis there is a concept that is called "locus of control". It refers to where we believe that the control over how we experience our lives is located. We could also call it the control room.

The location of our control room

If we believe that other people have control over us or that something else around us rules over our lives, it means that our control room is outside ourselves.

If we believe that we ourselves have the control over how we experience our lives, that means we believe that the control room is within ourselves.

The ability to handle crises

It has become clear that people who believe they have this control room inside themselves have a better ability to handle crises than those who think that it is located outside of them.

The control room in relationships

When you try to control for example your  partner, it is like you are trying to take over their control room. This can manifest itself as an attempt to, for example, act like a controlling parent towards your partner.

The problem that arises here, amongst other possible ones, is that when you try to take over another person's control room, you leave your own abandoned.

Working on learning your own controls

If you instead devote your time to learning how the controls work in your own control room, your ability to reach satisfaction will increase significantly. To always, or most of the time, like to be right, a form of control, may be among the most devastating things for love and passion in a relationship.

It is impossible to actively maintain a need to always be right and at the same time be genuinely happy.

Filippa: I have really struggled to stop being stubborn and always want to be right after I attended a seminar where I heard the presenter say, "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?".

Of course I would rather be happy than right because it gives a longer-term gratification. But sometimes it feels really good to get a quick fix out of actually being right ...

 

Markus: I like having control over certain things in life and have really had to work on letting go of control here and there to instead allow more spontaneity and joy.

In particular, I clearly noticed how futile it is to put energy into trying to control my partner for her to live up to some sort of absurd ideal image I have.

It's like running at full speed into the brick wall at the end of a dead end. About as painful and exactly as positive for the relationship, i.e not at all.

It becomes much more rewarding when I instead have been able to refocus the energy I wasted on trying to control my partner towards instead controlling myself, including my temper in a manner that allows a freer flow of love in our relationship.

Causes of the attempt to take control of others

The attempt to control our partner, to take over their control room, arises in situations where we feel threatened, where the fear is stronger than the trust. What we perceive as threatened is the ability to get our basic needs met or our self-image, how we view ourselves and our life. The basic needs, we have previously talked about in the article about the six basic human needs.

This threat, or fear, that arises and which is growing stronger than the trust in the given moment can be very subtle. Perhaps we do not want to admit that we are afraid or we attempt to hide it in fancy words like stress or the like.

Imagine a situation

Imagine a situation where you are trying to influence another human being, but feel that you are not succeeding. Maybe you have in this situation already tried several times, you may feel frustrated or you may even have given up on trying to change the other person, but you still feel a dislike towards the whole situation.

Could it be that you dislike what the other person does, because you dislike when you yourself do that very same thing? For example, not listening, losing patience, taking up too much space or taking up to little space?

Asking good questions to take back control

One way of taking back control where you have given it away to another person, is to asking yourself good questions.

Ask questions about how you can change the way you look at the person or situation, for example, what is good about this? What can I learn from this person or situation that I and others can enjoy in the future? What is it really about, what is it that I want to change? What is really important in my life and what do I want to achieve in the long run?

Getting new perspectives and freeing up energy

By stating a different kind of question than you have previously asked yourself, you get a new perspective that will help you take back control and move on. You will not waste unnecessary energy on something that you can not change and instead use it for something that benefits you, and the relationship, in the long run.

Homework Assignment

Select a relationship to a person close to you. Find something in the relationship towards that person that you usually have a need for controlling, or attempting to control. It could for example be a behavior of the other person or one of his or her personality traits.

Choose one where you can see a pattern in how you have reacted to this, almost instinctively. Then come up with a different behavior that would mean that you focused more on controlling yourself and let the other person be more free to live her life.

With your inner eye, see in detail how you react differently next time it happens.Play the new scene in your mind on repeated occassions.

Next time you get into a situation with this person that triggers your need for control, see if you can act differently based on your new desired behavior.


Couple with laptop studying relationships