In a way, all human relationships have the same problem. Whether we are talking about a casual conversation or a more committed relationship, two people often struggle over the smallest details.
In short term conversations, even between strangers, both parties often vie over what direction the conversation will take, or who will be the most knowledgeable one in the encounter. In long-term relationships, both individuals may debate over who decides which activities they will be engaging in, and over what particular lifestyle the couple will adopt. Too often, these dueling viewpoints break down into serious power struggles, sometimes with ugly results.
It is important to know what is truly happening during these disputes and how to deal with them in a positive way. For one thing, human disagreements always seem more intense than they should be, and often linger much longer than necessary. To an objective observer, these kinds of arguments often seem petty and should be rationally resolved through compromise and by developing a more balanced leadership within the relationship.
Rational people hold fast to unreasonable positions. Clearly, there is some other factor lurking beneath the surface in these situations. Interactional Psychology has been looking into the matter for decades with only moderate success. I contend that another field of inquiry – Consciousness Studies – is beginning to explain what is truly going on. Arguments amongst couples are, in fact, about who will hold the “power” between the two of them. What we need to understand is why people want power over others.
I call these kinds of irrational power struggles, Control Dramas. They show that the core source of these problems is not psychological, but rather, precisely about the nature of our minds. It is spiritual! To fully understand, one has to explore the “Spiritual” dynamics operating when human beings relate.
Understanding Human Conflict
This deeper understanding is immensely important. When we gain insight into human conflict, we understand and resolve more than our day-to-day personal disagreements. We grasp the long-term secret of how to end conflicts of all kinds. Even those between larger groups of people. For example, religious affiliates or irrational wars between entire nations. This awareness is essential in our historical situation, where wars are being fought over abstract religious concepts and pure political ideology.
The issue of Control Dramas goes all the way back to the root of existential struggles in humanity. That is why it is a Spiritual issue. At their core, humans feel lost and uncertain in the world. Seems obvious, right? We are insecure because each of us has to find a way to support ourselves and make a living. And in the end, we must come to terms with death, and what may or may not lie beyond it.
Of course, we can commit to a certain religion, but all too often, it is still just an intellectual choice. No one knows without a doubt what the right way is, and that is what haunts the very essence of our souls. We find ourselves alive without any certainty as to why. It creates a deep anxiety, knowingly or not. One that we must examine and deal with accordingly.
What is still the greatest tendency in how we handle this stress? We try to repress the fear by pushing it out of our minds. We find desperate activities of choice, pursued with a kind of unconscious frenzy. We shop when there is no money in the bank. We follow celebrities instead of living our lives. We play video games or watch sports obsessively. And we partake in all sorts of addictions, diversions, and ideologies… all while searching to fill the void of meaning within us. Most of all, we seek power and control over other people – because of the energy and security it brings to us.
How it works: when in conversation with another person, especially those within a long-term relationship, people in a very real way join minds. Such a joining explains why people in relationships can “finish each others’ sentences,” or “think” to telephone each other at precisely the same time. Plus, a host of other phenomena occurs. Consciousness research states that this joining of minds is possible because all humans are already part of the one Divine Mind, although we are not fully conscious of it. In actuality, this is what is missing in each of us: Connection with the Divine Mind.
Unfortunately, instead of seeking the experience of connection with the Divine Mind we call God, we seek just a piece of it by force. In this way, we tend to pursue gaining control over someone else.
This mistaken “need filling” plays out in all relationships by the way we communicate with each other; both people join minds automatically. We sense our consciousness expand as the others’ mind is added to ours. The truth of this effect is astounding. When we connect with another person, we get a boost in consciousness because the other person adds a little bit more of their Divine Mind to our own. We feel elevated, inspired, and filled with more clarity. Most importantly, we experience a deeper, Spiritual security.
Common Relationship Experiences
Think of the first blush of love in a romantic relationship. Both people feel exhilarated and euphoric, they want to give all their attention to the other. The key here is that during this process, both are voluntarily giving their mind to the other. Assuming the idea that their partner is going to go along with all of their wishes and dreams for how the relationship (or conversation) should go.
Of course, that does not last. There arises a disagreement, and the good feelings are gone. Each one senses their boost from the joining of minds beginning to diminish, along with the feeling of energy, and inspiration. In response, each begins to manipulate one another to gain dominance and force the other to defer to their wishes. To which, a classic Control Drama ensues.
Contrast this with what is obviously the better way to maintain a relationship. Instead of relying on each other, to feel expanded, both parties should seek a real, experience-based connection with the larger Divine Mind itself. The Saints and teachers of all Spiritual traditions always ask us to know the presence within us, God, when we search for a solution.
Only by opening ourselves up to a larger, consciousness of living, do we reach optimal security and clarity. In this way, we also gain intuitive knowing and a true calling to a mission in the world.
Once we find this more effective Spiritual connection, relationships can develop around true interests and compatibility, without the need to involve security. Disagreements are then freed up and resolved through compromise and a joint, Intuitive sense of which person should be displaying leadership in a moment.
Of course, we are just beginning to conceive and work towards a higher solution to the problem of Control Dramas and human conflict, in general. First, we must find a way to navigate through such issues in the most positive and conscious way possible. It begins with recognizing behaviors in others and ourselves, followed by dealing with them in the most effective manner – so both parties can move toward a more enlightened relationship.
The 4 Most Recognizable “Control Dramas”
Below you will see both an overview of the four, most recognizable Control Dramas – along with the loving way to stop these games, dead in their tracks. I’ve listed these manipulations in order, from the most passive style to the most aggressive. Do not forget, it is usually much easier to see these devices in others than to catch ourselves using them… I suggest that you be genuinely honest with yourself here.
1. The Poor Me “Control Drama”
The Poor Me is the most passive of all the Control Dramas. This style is designed to make the other person feel sorry for them using manipulation. It lures them in to connect or reconnect with the Poor Me in sympathy, which shifts the energy of the jointly connected minds into their control.
Here is how it works: The drama is designed to make you feel you did something wrong, and were not “there” for them in their time of need. They may say something like, “You never called or checked on me when all these bad things were going on in my life.” Or, more boldly, “After all I have done for you, you let me down like this.” These guilt trips can suddenly throw you off balance and draw your attention and connection back to them. You then find yourself struggling to know if what they are saying is indeed the truth. When their game works completely, you deeply attach with them to try to make amends.
When this Control Drama develops, the Poor Me feels good but you, in turn, feel drained or weakened. You unknowingly allow them to seize control of the joint mind the two of you have created, luring you into a type of voluntary deferral to their dominance.
You know that this is a game because even if you think they might have a point and you try to comfort them, they never seem to interact authentically. They always carry an air of the one who has been wronged. No matter how attentive you are, they continually want more, and often repeat the game by naming yet another guilt-inducing accusation at you.
2. The Aloof “Control Drama”
The Aloof Control Drama is less passive, yet still tries to entice you into connecting by acting distant and unreadable. They want you to be involved with them, but they only partially attach themselves and will withhold information from you.
Acting this way sends you into the pursuit of finding more information about who they are and what they are doing. When you do investigate and strive for more of a connection, they respond with vague facts, released with a certain air of mystification. This in turn leads you to making even more inquiries. Sometimes, they will also imply that they know secrets that no one else knows, and even convey that these secrets reveal something that the pursuing person desperately needs to know.
Their effort here is to get your attention entirely on them and allow them to control the relationship. This tactic results in giving the Aloof the uplifting energy of your connection and leaving you feeling lessened.
3. The Interrogator “Control Drama”
More aggressive, is the Interrogator Control Drama. You know when you run into this style of manipulation because you suddenly feel belittled, and begin to monitor your actions so that you feel less vulnerable. Usually, the person playing such a game has learned to put someone down (sometimes under the guise of being helpful) to seize control of the relationship. Subtle criticizing forces the other person to lose confidence and begin to look at themselves through the eyes of the Interrogator. Ultimately, this gives them the power and energy.
Manipulative comments by the Interrogator could be about personal appearance: “Don’t you feel a bit under-dressed for this occasion.” Or a behavior: “I can’t believe you said that.” Or your intelligence: “You really aren’t smart enough to compete in that job.” It could be any criticism. For the Interrogator, it is about throwing the other person off balance so they will defer the leadership of the relationship onto them.
4. The Intimidator “Control Drama”
The Intimidator is the most aggressive type of Control Drama where the user tries to scare you into submitting to their control in the relationship. This behavior is the most dangerous of manipulation devices since some Intimidators resort to violence to ensure that the game works, and they are the ones’ holding the power. You know you are relating to an Intimidator when you sense an air of aggression in their demeanor and attitude. This person usually grew up in an environment, where in his early childhood, he could not gain energy by being any other way.
The object for all of us is to move our relationships from power struggles to authentically relating. The most significant factor of all is how connected we are with the Divine Mind, which is a part of us all. The more energy and well being we download from that source, the less dependent we are on the strength and approval of others. Moreover, when we are genuinely connecting to ourselves, we have more energy to give. In which this allows us to help others transcend Control Dramas and move to a life of authenticity.
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