Monday, July 20, 2015

Controlling the Impulse to Control

Since he was small, my son has been a rule-follower. And if there are no rules to follow, he will make some up.

Recent case in point: when he applied for his driver’s permit, the lady gave him a temporary paper copy, telling him grumpily not to rip it.

I said, “Let’s make some copies of that bad boy in case you lose it.”

“No, Ma, she said not to make copies.”

“No, she said not to rip it.”

“Well, maybe that means not to copy it too ….”


I know. He doesn’t want to mess up. And that’s good.
(If you wonder why I thought to make copies of his permit, it’s because he has a special gift for losing things.)

Control, though, is a funny concept. It can be good, like when you do have things “under control,” but it can be bad, like when you are “controlling.” (Ever notice: anytime anyone is called “controlling,” it’s a bad thing?)

Trying to be in control can quickly go off the rails. I’m convinced that all superstitions spring from the desire, the need, to feel, at least somewhat, in control. Our minds search for logic in what happens around us so we can harness that logic and stay safe – like this superstition of my family.

But such superstitions can also drive you crazy, because, you know what? We’re not in control, not really. Yeah, we can weigh risks and benefits, we can take precautions, but ultimately, things are not in our control.

The dangers of trying to be in control are, I think, why people going through AA are told to put their faith in a Higher Power. What that Higher Power is matters far less than that you don’t feel you have to control everything youself.

1 comment:

  1. Copying CDs is also called "ripping" so your son does have a valid point. :

    Omigosh, we must be related because my family belonged to the imagine every possible negative outcome club too. And then there's this "The Yiddishism “kaynahora” (there are many spelling variations) is roughly similar to “knock on wood” and is often spoken to ward off a jinx after praise or good news." Plus you're supposed to spit after saying it. I think. I saw that on an episode of "Will and Grace", so that may just be artistic license.