Good People Up To No Good

Control-oriented people are often “good people up to no good.” I could be the poster child for the control person disease. It created severe damage in all my relationships.

Control is a problem because freedom is a thorny issue for most people. Practicing freedom is seldom easy, but becomes easier once you see the benefits.

People want to be free and enjoy the idea of being free. We have an innate, built-in longing to be free, not be controlled. That freedom was a critical element in the original sin. Adam and Eve were free to choose what was terrible. Satan knew that and encouraged them to exercise their freedom irresponsibly and not be controlled by God. After all, God was limiting their freedom about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil!

Although freedom is part of our DNA, and we long for it, freedom brings fear when you do not understand it. “Will I make the right choices since I am free? Will they make the right choices since (or when) they are free?”

I remember when reality struck me about being free from my parents. There was more fear than joy due to seeing I was now responsible for my life. That may be what some call the “age of accountability.” A similar issue occurs when considering another person and their choices. You will either be malevolent – a dictator or believe you are benevolent.

On the benevolent side – if people are free, will they care for themselves? Will they make wise choices? Will they be responsible or irresponsible? If they are irresponsible, how will that reflect on me? How much can I trust that they will make good decisions when they are not as _____ (fill in the blank) as me? Since they do not know all the dangers, I need to be untiring in my approach to prevent them from making bad choices.

On the nasty side, will it interfere with what I want if people are free? Will they work against me or with me? How can I neutralize or eliminate those who will not do what I want? How much pressure or pain will be needed to make them do what I want?

While many may be malevolent, my speculation is control people tend to be well-intentioned – GOOD PEOPLE UP TO NO GOOD. They fear bad things will happen if freedom is allowed; therefore, control kicks in – manipulate or dominate – to prevent those bad things. Control people see potential danger in many, maybe most, situations. Then, if others do not share those perceptions, they think, “Why don’t others see how dangerous things are? That is not fun; that is dangerous. They must not be very wise. They are very vulnerable. They need protection and my help for their good.”

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. – C.S. Lewis

You may be a control person like me with good intentions, but it does not matter – it still damages relationships. To provide protection, you initiate rules and regulations. Driven by fear, you discount thoughts or input from others because they cannot see the danger. You are on defense, defending yourself and everyone from “potential dangers.” Disagreements are often seen as personal attacks because “I know what is right, you don’t. Why are you attacking me when I only want what is best for you?” It takes a lot of energy to be a control person because there are many ways people can mess things up or get themselves into trouble!

People tolerate control (manipulation or domination) for a while, but in a relationship, it becomes miserable and, at some point, intolerable. Consider the opposite side, the one controlled. They seldom cheerfully submit to control – instead, they create counter strategies to establish their freedom. Sometimes their strategy would be to counter-control by avoiding the relationship completely – to maintain their autonomy or independence.

If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking…is freedom. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

When you are a controlling person, you cannot understand why others don’t want to be around you. “Why are they being so difficult? Why don’t they see the benefits? I want what is best for them.”

That may be true, but control violates the freedom and choice that others have.

And, if you are a control person, you are often the biggest target of your control strategy. You will worry, obsess, warn, criticize, and work hard to keep yourself in line.

You may love and cheer for freedom as a value, but it is a threat when others have it. “They will not be responsible with their freedom and, therefore, bad things will happen.” So, you react to imagined danger which overshadows valuing their freedom also.

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