In today’s relationships what is often classed as love is nothing more than control. The desire to control another person and their behaviour then becomes more important than it is to love and honour the other person.
The question is: what would make a person want to control another? If they truly loved them wouldn’t they want them to be free and to do what was best for them?
The love I am talking about here can be what one expresses to family and friends for example. Although it can be based on a sexual attraction to another person, it doesn’t have to be. I would describe it as a respect for another’s boundaries, needs and wants.
This involves honouring the other person as much as one would honour themselves and to recognise that they are separate.
Control on the other hand is about using another person to fulfil ones needs. Having other people fulfil ones needs is not dysfunctional per se; it is part of life. What is dysfunctional is having another person fulfil ones needs in a way that compromises the other person and goes against their wishes.
This means that the other person is not in agreement with what is happening and they are being taken advantage of. The other person is then being abused.
Where Does This Come From?
As we look at these scenarios, we can see that it is a dysfunctional way of being. However, this behaviour doesn’t just occur, it had to be learnt from somewhere and someone.
This takes our attention back to the childhood environment. What happens during this time goes a long way to defining how one will perceive love and their level of psychological health.
When we are growing up we all have needs that need to be taken care of. Included in these needs are: food, shelter, clothing and nurturing. Some people will have their physical needs taken care of and wont have there emotional needs met. While others will have their emotional needs met, but won’t have their physical needs met. And very few people will have both of these aspects taken care of.
Both of these are important to ones survival and development. These emotional needs are important in forming a functional human being.
What Are These Needs?
What makes up these needs is: acceptance, mirroring, validation and attention. Through having these need met the child then learns that it is important and has value. It also helps the child to form a connection with their needs and feelings; which happens because their caregivers have mirrored these back to them.
Without this mirroring the child wouldn’t know that it exists, it also wouldn’t be able to recognise its own feelings and needs. They would be foreign to the child and the child would be completely out of touch with their inner life.
And as this happens the child has an understanding of its own needs, through the process of its caregivers mirroring and validating the child. The child can then grow into an adult that can recognise and fulfil these needs; either themselves or by asking another.
The child will also have the ability to emotional regulate and to sooth itself as an adult. This is possible through having the caregivers doing this to the child, the child can then internalise these ability’s.
When This Doesn’t Happen
The problem is that this process does not always happen and the child is then not mirrored or validated or it might receive these inconsistently. What then happens is the child is invalidated and is not given the mirroring it needs to form a sense of self.
A sense of self can only be formed if the child is brought up with the right mirroring and validation. This allows the child to know it’s self as a person and as being worthy of life.
If the child is exposed to caregivers that cannot offer these things, its own needs will be neglected and it will end up being disconnected from its own feelings and needs.
The child will then grow up to be an adult that has difficulty emotional regulating and soothing itself. This is likely because the caregivers had no way of doing these things themselves and therefore could not offer this to the child.
As the child grows up it will have trouble knowing what its needs are and even what it is feeling. It would be natural for them to feel like a stranger to themselves.
So as well as creating frustration and anger at feeling this disconnection, one will also feel incredibly needy and dependent on others. This is because one is coming from a place of emptiness.
One might look like and adult on the outside, but emotionally they could be a child; with their emotions being frozen at a certain age because of trauma.
How Does This Lead To Control?
When one has not had their needs taken care of they will be more reliant on another to do this for them. And if one has no way of emotional regulating themselves of self soothing, they will also be more dependent on others.
How this will play out will depend on how conscious the person is. If their awareness is strong they will be able to seek assistance with becoming more self reliant and to take care of their needs in more functional ways. This could be through a friend or therapist for example.
If they have little to know awareness they will have no choice but to use and take advantage of another for their own needs. And these needs will be so strong, that it will be hard for them to control them.
There behaviour will then be reactive and unconscious. The ability to be aware and to be conscious will not be possible. What will be on their mind is taking care of themselves, and regardless of what affect it will have on another.
A child can only think about itself, it is not possible for this child to do much without the help of a caregiver. And when one regresses back to this needy child the last thing one will be thinking about is if the other person is being compromised.
So it could be said that the act of controlling another is not conscious. And that it can only happen while one is unaware and unconscious.
I believe the best way to not control another or to avoid being controlled by another is to take care of our own needs and to emotionally regulate and self sooth ourselves.
As one gets back in touch with their needs, they will be able to form relationships that are more functional. Relationships will be formed where ones needs are being met out of choice and not obligation or fear. And where one can help to fulfil another’s needs out of choice and not force.
One will also become aware of what needs can be fulfilled by another and what needs can only be fulfilled by oneself.
Body And Heart
These needs are of the body and are related to ones survival. And in order to love and to honour another person ones awareness has to include the heart.
And if one hasn’t taken care of these basic needs there will always be the pull of the body and this will make it more or less impossible to consistently express the heart. However, as these two intelligences begin to merge, ones relationships with others and oneself will also change and reflect this inner harmony.
To the body all that matters are the needs that it has. When it comes to the heart; it is a completely different experience.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.