Control is the Opposite of Respect

I was on a plane circling JFK due to bad weather when the man next to me engaged me in conversation. He was the CEO of a small company that had just hired a psychologist to consult. He prided himself on soliciting input from the staff beneath him and he remarked “I always know where our conversations will end up.” I laughed and drew him the two drawings that accompany this entry.  If you have already decided on the end result and then solicit other opinions you are not genuinely on a path that respects another point of view.(see first illustration)get-attachment-1.aspx

If you truly incorporate someone else’s point of view then you have no way of knowing where you will end up. The test of every relationship is disagreement and whether or not it is respected. Uncertainty allows something new to emerge and grow by respecting both points of view. (see second illustration)

Both our state and federal government have gotten more polarized. In PA people with different politics used to share housing, eat meals and golf together. Now, they no longer do. Today, self righteousness about one viewpoint is everywhere. No one can grow as long as they are mired in one point of view.

Couples get stuck because they are certain only one of them is right. All day long it has really become effortless to walk the path in between people. Both people make sense and have something to teach each other. How have we evolved to be so fragile that we grip so tightly onto only one way of looking at things?

Control means deciding that you know what’s best for somebody else. There is a massive pile of disrespect in the previous sentence. When parents want to control their children’s grades they are depriving them of the opportunity to learn from their own mistakes. We all learn more from mistakes than success. It’s funny to recall the fifth grade science fair and which projects had obviously been done by parents. Control means squelching the opportunity to learn from the environment. Control means calling the teacher on the carpet and you are just so certain your child has turned in all their homework (because they said so). Control is an implicit part of codependency. Control is a certainty in knowing that lacks the humility of true wisdom. Control is played out by the actress Tilda Swinton as the mother of an 18 yr.old gay son about to leave for college in the movie The Deep End. By the end of the movie he leaves without ever learning anything about his first big mistake in false love. The mother asks him once if he did anything, and he gives her an honest answer that she completely ignores. Control is surrounding yourself with only that which is familiar; you will only date within your own ethnic group, you will only get straight A’s, you will hate your father because he had an affair and if you don’t I won’t love you. Control is based on presumptuous ideas that the other person is not taking care of themselves and you must steer the ship for them which ultimately is a profound lack of respect. Control is deciding you have the answers and you aren’t really interested in input from anyone else. Most couples who end up divorced do so because of a lack of respect.

illustration #2

illustration #2


3 thoughts on “Control is the Opposite of Respect

  1. kaylarobertson says:

    Wow. I really appreciate this. It’s an interesting thought and certainly a valid one. I have a terribly hard time allowing my partner to love me the way he wants. I panic if he doesn’t love me the way I think he needs to in order for me to feel loved. I understand that this is probably a lack of respect, but I’m not entirely sure how to let go. Always a challenging question :\ Anyway, thanks for posting!

    • rhodasommer says:

      I’m going to respond to your excellent question in my next post which will be titled “The Challenge of Letting Go”…in your honor. I’m on vacation & have lots of time to think & write. Thanks!

  2. kaylarobertson says:

    To be honest, I’m almost terrified to read it haha. I know you tell the truth and I often read things the worst way trying to scare myself.

    It is interesting the ways that my boyfriend and I work on showing each other love. We’ve talked about it extensively (the way that I bond with him by talking into the late hours of the night whereas he honestly bonds with me by playing games or watching movies together, or that I prefer a few quick calls throughout the day to let me know he’s thinking about me and he would rather call me fewer times, but talk for longer…both ways show love, it’s just a matter of style).

    Where we really differ is in how much reassurance I feel like I need. I ask him frequently if I bother him by asking if he’s sure I’m bothering him and stupid things like that. It’s something that he accepts and lets me have because he wants me to feel better (though I do occasionally worry about your warnings to avoid a prince charming/rescuer type figure). I don’t like to think that I’m forcing him to love me this way, but I do have a hard time knowing it if he doesn’t say it. The best way I’ve found is to encourage him to talk about it, ask for the reassurance I need and as time goes on I’m more and more able to repeat his feelings in my head and reassure myself.

    Again, thanks! I’ll be looking forward to your next post! 🙂 Best wishes and enjoy your vacation!

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