In my 30+ years as a counselor, I have found myself working on two particular issues over and over again. Despite a client’s age, gender, race, career choice, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, etc. and regardless of why they say they are seeking help. One of those issues is the desire to control the behavior of someone else.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the power to make anybody do anything you want anytime you want it? Guess what? That is never going to happen! I don’t care what dynamic or diabolical schemes you come up with. Every human being has the power of choice.
At this point you may be saying “Dr. Lori you said this was about unlimited power. Now you are saying I have no power over other people. What’s up?
This is what’s up. “You cannot control the behavior of other people. You can only control your reaction.” Accepting this gives you unlimited power. By now you could be asking, “do I have power or not Dr. Lori?” The answer is yes you have an abundance of power.
The only reason any of us wants to control anyone else is our reaction to something that person does or does not do. Your power comes from how you choose to react and/or respond. For example: your son comes home from school everyday with his shirttail out. You can decide that his untucked shirttail makes you the worst mother in the world and, to prove otherwise, you must show up at school daily to check his shirt. Or you can ignore the shirt, realize neither you nor your son is perfect and save yourself a ton of anguish (not to mention time).
The bottom line is this. Your only source of control over other people’s behavior is your reaction to it. In fact you may find that changing your reaction causes a change in them. Even if it doesn’t, your control of your response prevents you from giving your personal power away.
Yes, I did mention two issues. Are you wondering what the second issue is? Stay tuned to my upcoming blog posts for that answer.