Sep 062008

I would like to share some insights about human nature I’ve had recently:

Some people claim that a basic human need is to feel that you are in control. We strive to gain control and try to control our surroundings and freak out if we don’t have control. Say, you do something your boss told you not to do but you knew it was the right thing to do (and others would agree). I believe they’ll freak out because they believed they controlled you (if you had indeed done what they said previously) and now they don’t.

Of course, I don’t literally mean “control” you, though the term “boss” apparently derives from “baas” as in master, in a master-slave relationship. Simply knowing you is a form of control. That is, knowing that you’ll do what the boss wants is a form of control. That’s another reason that if you do something unexpected, the people around you will freak out, because you used to be a known element and you’re not anymore. Now you are unknown and uncontrollable, and there’s no telling what you will do.

That brings me to the reason I believe human beings try to control everything. I believe human beings have a psychological need to control everything around them (even if it is the superficial illusion of control through knowledge) because if you’re in control, you can’t get hurt. I believe that getting hurt, and the fear of getting hurt are a power that moves most human beings.

Being driven by an unsatiable need for control is not a great choice for a conscious human being. There’s a few ways around this: meditation seems to help me let go of my need for control, another way is to realize what you do have control over (such as yourself) and continually remind yourself not to let it extend outwards to trying to believe you control other people or your surroundings, yet another way is to focus on the end fear that is caused by this feeling of control: that something bad will happen. According to Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway, all fear is at it’s basis a fear that you won’t be able to handle it. Think about that, because there is much wisdom in those words. For example, say you fear leaving your job even though it’s unfulfilling because you might not find a better one. The underlying fear there is that you may leave your job, and never be able to find another one and you won’t be able to handle it. I believe that a sense of low self-esteem sets in once you’re at one job for a while, so you underestimate how well you can do outside because you feel down on yourself and question why anyone would want you or want to pay you for something. And perhaps you feel you can’t handle the rejection, or the feeling that you’re not good enough.

I haven’t gotten all the pieces of the puzzle yet, and I certainly find myself trying to control everything around me, or, more often, find myself disappointed because I thought I could control things around me. However, I thought I’d share this insight into the nature of humanity I had.

Main Points:

  • To try to control everything around us is a human urge that can lead you to take foolish actions or making unconscious choices you may regret later.
  • If you’re in control, nothing bad can happen. That’s the reasoning behind trying to be in control, and that is rooted in a fear of getting hurt or not being able to handle it, like almost all fears. You might get hurt and you won’t be able to handle it, is the key fear.
  • This is not a great choice for a conscious individual, to be pushed by a drive to be in control. Rather, a conscious human being would make intelligent, conscious choices about their life, their feelings and their relationship to everything around them.

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