THE MORE I CONTROL MYSELF -
the more I can get over on others!
Previous: Aggression, Over-Taxing & Regrets
REMINDER: Go to Acronym PAGE for abbrev.
Some CONSEQUENCES, cont.
4. Over-Control (O-C) & Manipulation
More is not always better when it comes to self-control. It’s hard for ACoAs to believe that vulnerability is not a weakness, but really a virtue. Of course, vulnerability without boundaries is foolish. But here it refers to a defense mechanism becoming self-destructive when over-used
a. Rigidity: In most people, O-C tends to kill the joy of life, robbing ourselves of spontaneity & fun. This self-imposed caution can make us unhappy & unpleasant to be around
b. Secret agenda — But for an ‘elite’ group, O-C is used for an ulterior motive. They’re the smooth operators, skillful in the art of deception & manipulation: the charlatans, con artists, under-cover agents and some politicians, religious leaders, judges, lawyers, teachers and pillars of society. They will to go to any length to maintain their façade, no matter the cost to themselves, their family or anyone else.
– self-control is simply one of the tools they use to maintain a positive public image, to not blow the cover on their actual abusive identity
– every action is measured and always proper for the occasion. Every word is carefully selected & they seldom reveal their emotions
✶ O-C makes them feel safe, superior. They’re so numb to their deeply hidden inner pain that they’re not bothered by the harm they do
ACoAs: Ironically – while many of us who are caught up in O-C believe we are total victims & would never think of ourselves as con-artists, we are if fact being manipulative & dishonest without meaning to be . We hide behind our own special mask (a role, a defense mechanism, a character disorder….) to keep anyone from seeing what we’re convinced is the real us – weak, worthless & despicable! – which is only the WIC’s toxic belief, NOT our True Self.
5. Self-Control & Prejudice
A study from Tufts University showed that effortful self-control can sometimes cause emotional unease and guarded behavior, which could be misinterpreted as racial prejudice in some circumstances.
• Researchers ran 2 group of white volunteers through a series of computer-based mental exercises. One group’s set was so challenging that people were temporarily depleted of the mental reserves needed for discipline, while the other group was given a less stressful set.
• Once the subjects were finished they met with either a white or black interviewer & discussed racial diversity, a social situation with the potential for racial tension. Later subjects rated the interaction with the interviewer for comfort, awkwardness & enjoyment.
• Those who were mentally depleted (lacking discipline and self-control) talked about race with a black interviewer more enjoyably (than those with their self-control intact), presumably because they weren’t working as hard to monitor or curb what they said
• Also, independent black observers found that the powerless & therefore less inhibited whites were much more direct, real & less prejudiced in their conversations
✶ CONCLUSION: Relinquishing power over oneself (temporarily) seems to prevent over-thinking and thus ‘liberate’ people to be more authentic, which could benefit both individuals & society
ACoAs: Of course this study does not imply it’s ok to be unruly or a doormat as a result of lowered inhibitions. It’s about “Letting Go” of anxiety, looking good, projecting failure, fear of disapproval, trying to be seen, heard, accepted …. but just being open-hearted & in the moment. Then we can enjoy ourselves, be respectful & put others at ease
6. Over-control & Greed
A. Empathy Reaction – A Yale University study suggests that too much self-control not only wears us down, but even picturing other people’s S-C can be too much to handle.
• Researchers taunted subjects with the story of a waiter surrounded by gourmet food he was not allowed to taste. Some subjects were encouraged to go beyond polite listening to actually imagine this scene & have real empathy with his situation. Later everyone was shown pictures of expensive items. Those who had put themselves in the shoes of the waiter had ‘suffered’ all the same S-C as he had (vicariously experienced his deprivation) – and they wanted the bling & other fancy stuff they saw, no matter the price.
Apparently it’s our fundamental human nature to be out of control (the “id”), so imagining anyone depriving themselves can unconsciously affect us, eventually bringing out the greedy beast in us all!
ACoAs: This result may also be a reaction of empathy for another person’s discomfort. Most ACoAs are acutely sensitive to the suffering of others, having been powerless to alleviate it in our parents & siblings. This quality is admirable except for the fact that we DO NOT apply it to ourselves.
– Having NOT had enough of our needs met as kids, the more we deprive ourselves now, the needier & thus greedier we become as adults. We try to fill the ‘hole’ with addiction to people & possessions, behaviors easily triggered by the endless possible choices in our society which can lead us to being over-spenders &/or hoarders.
B. Mimicking Behavior
On the other hand, appropriate S-C can be learned & improved. U of Georgia did 5 separate studied on the issue of over- vs under-indulgence & found that healthy Self-control is contagious. EXP: Subjects who thought about a friend with good S-C persisted longer on a hand-grip task commonly used to measure this behavior, while the reverse held true for those who were asked to think about a friend with no restraint.
People tend to mimic the behavior of those around them, so bad habits can spread though social contact. Therefore choosing positive company to hang out with can improve your S-C. “…and by exhibiting self-control, you’re helping others around you do the same.”, says lead author Michelle vanDellen, psychology professor at the U of G.
ACoAs: We are so used to staying attached to people who have similar or worse life-styles than those we grew up with – that we continually reinforce our negative attitudes & habits. This is not helpful or necessary! 12-Step Programs tell us to “Stick with the winners”. This reminds us that one way we really can grow healthier is by choosing our work & personal environments with care!
NEXT: Getting Controlled by Others