We human beings are highly predictable creatures. Â We want to believe that our life stories (especially the â€œtragicâ€ ones) are unique. Â Yet, when we look more closely we see, in general, a limited number of patterns, variations on themes.
Dramas are being played out all around us every day: Â parent-child, husband-wife, employer-employee, boyfriend-girlfriend, government-constituent, buyer- seller. Â At the core of each of these scenarios is a struggle for control and energy. Â Each participant wants to be â€œright.â€ Each feels the need to gain approval and support or supremacy from the other. Â Doing so seems to boost our energy.
How does the parent get the child to obey? Â How does the child convince the parent to give her what she wants? Â How does the employer stimulate the employee to produce? Â How do the employees persuade the employer to compensate them fairly?
We are all buyers and sellers. Â We are all givers and receivers. Â We are also all persuaders. Â Each of us is trying to turn situations in the direction that gives us the results we want. Â Most human interactions, therefore, become dramas about controlâ€”who has more power? Â Who will get his way?
As we begin to look at our interactions in terms of patterns for gaining control, we can develop an x-ray vision of relational dynamics. Â As we unmask the mechanisms, we can make better decisions about how to interact with others and we can begin to see our relationship transform in amazingly positive ways.
I have a wonderful mentor with whom I spend much time. Â Because she is honest and openly shares her own life experiences, I have grown tremendously. Â Last week she mentioned a tool that is extremely helpful to her. Â She discovered it when she was going through a crisis in her marriage. Â I want to share this tool with you in hope that it will provide you with just the insights you need to turn a corner in your challenging relationships.
Years ago my mentorâ€™s relationship with her husband was troubled with deep-seated anger. Â Most of the time the surface was smooth, however angry interactions could erupt at any time causing frustration, hurt and misery. Â Eventually the relationship became so tense that she feared it might not last. Â She prayed for help and it came to her through a book she was reading at the time.
That book was The Celestine Prophecy (Warner Books: Â NY, 1993), a best-selling novel by James Redfield, (which incidentally has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Â If you havenâ€™t read it yet, I highly recommend it). Â The main character in this book goes on a journey of spiritual awakening, discovering nine insights that were supposedly uncovered in an ancient Peruvian manuscript.
The reader finds these insights woven into the story. Â The third insight posits that â€œthe physical world is actually a vast system of energyâ€ (p. 89). Â The fourth insight describes the typical human struggle for power. It says, â€œHumans have always felt short of energy and have sought to control each other to acquire the energy that flows between peopleâ€ (p. 121). Â According to the fifth insight, all of us can get energy directly from our Source rather than taking it from others. Â But we canâ€™t have it both ways. Â The key is to take an honest look, to bring our control methods to conscious awareness and then opt out.
Redfield offers four basic control dramas: Â the Intimidator, the Interrogator, the Aloof and the Poor Me. Â (The control dramas are discussed in the chapter called, â€œClearing the Pastâ€.) Â Can you see yourself in any of the following descriptions?
Intimidators tend to be on the verge of exploding. Â They use threats, give people orders, are highly self-centered and use anger to control others and make them afraid.
Interrogators constantly question you to criticize what you are doing. Â They use logic, sarcasm, skepticism and self-righteousness to tear others down, by making them doubt themselves.
The Poor Mes see the negative in everything and look at life as a series of problems. Â They often tell others how busy or tired they are. Â They want others to feel guilty about not caring for them, not solving their problems for them. Â They feel like victims, sighing, trembling and crying to make others feel bad. Â Often they will sacrifice but then feel resentful towards those they help.
The Aloofs appear preoccupied and busy. Â They act indifferent, unresponsive and secretive. Â They keep their distance from others, preferring to run away from conflicts rather than working through them.
My mentor was stunned when she learned about these control mechanisms. Â She realized that she and her husband were acting them out and began to watch. Â Sometimes she would hear her husband take the role of Intimidator and feel herself ready to go into Poor Me. Â On other occasions she would notice herself becoming an Interrogator and realize that he was taking the position of the Aloof.
Soon she knew when these dramas were starting and as she listened to her husband, she would say inside herself, â€œI donâ€™t want to repeat this drama again.â€ To her amazement, that small pause and change of intention opened the opportunity for fresh approaches to their conflicts. Â As she was guided to new words and actions, he responded in more conciliatory ways. Â Over a period of months their relationship began to heal. Â Their interactions were calmer. Â They were able to step out of these control dramas and truthfully discuss their differences with respect for one another.
I know this couple. Â Their relationship is mature and beautiful. Â I would never have guessed that the harmony between them grew out of a conscious understanding of Redfieldâ€™s control dramas as well as a consistent desire to interact in another way.
Where do you see these control dramas? Â Notice them at work, at home, or at church. Â Anywhere and everywhere humans are interacting, you are bound to see these patterns playing outâ€”if you have eyes to see them.
What control styles do you find yourself repeating? Â Think of the relationship in which you experience the most conflict and difficulty. Â Can you identify the control dynamics? Â What roles do you tend to play? Â How does the other person respond?
We canâ€™t control the behavior of others. Â However, the more consciousness we carry into a situation, the more opportunity there is for harmonious transformation. Â Here are a few ideas to help you shift your interpersonal dynamics.
1. Pause and be silent. Â If you want change, show that desire by waiting just a moment before you react in your usual way.
2. Ask for a new way to move through the interaction.
3. Wait for emotions to subside. Â It is okay to postpone a conversation until you and the other are less emotionally charged.
When emotions run high, we become less conscious and go into reaction mode. Â Take a deep breath. Â Before the pattern repeats, suggest a little break. Â There is a better chance for true communication when both parties have calmed down.
Your assignment this week is to study yourself! Â Take the time to think back to the interactions in your immediate family while you were growing up. Â Can you identify the control methods that your mom, dad and siblings used? Â How did you react to the people in your family? Â What methods of control did you develop? Â Can you see relationships in which you are still playing these roles right now?
Donâ€™t be overly serious. Â Have fun. Â Just notice in a non-judging way the dynamics in relationships all around you. Â Become an expert. Â The more clearly you can see and observe these control dramas playing out, the more insight you will gain into yourself.
Stop the conflict. Â It starts with you; in fact, it begins Inside you. Â By simply beginning to take responsibility for your own attempts at control, you can start a wave of change in your world.
Please contact me if you need a speaker to motivate your employees to greater levels of excellence or to inspire an audience at your special event. Â Stay in touch with me on Facebook and Twitter. Â Sign up for free daily, inspirational emails by visiting Â www.patriciaomoqui.com . Â Put your email address into the red box called Food For Thought.
Food For Thought
â€œTo know when to go away and when to come closer is the key to any lasting relationship.â€ ~DomÃ©nico Cieri Estrada
Ã“ Patricia G. Omoqui 2010, All Rights Reserved
Patricia Omoqui, The Thought Dr. â„¢, is an internationally recognized inspirational speaker, life coach and writer. Â Patriciaâ€™s mission in life is to inspire people to move beyond fear so they can reach their full potential.
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