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  1. #1
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Default non-controlling behaviors

    There is a lot of information on controlling behaviors, but I haven't found as much concerning the opposite extreme.

    The lack of desire to exert control on others is an issue for me. I operate towards the opposite end of the spectrum of trying to control people. I find it has advantages and some notable disadvantages. It hampered my ability to function as a college professor. We were required to police students for coming in late or eating in class. I tended to overlook that kind of thing and even though it caused some disruption, it simply didn't seem worth addressing. I had trouble being rigid about assignment due dates and such things. In teaching individual music lessons, I find my style to be in stark contrast to other teachers. I just don't exert much structure on the student and never pressure them. I vary the schedule as needed am not bothered by cancellations or when they are late -unless it affects the next one, and then I'm not 'bothered', but just have a problem to resolve. I'm willing to take hobbyist students who don't plan to put much effort into the endeavor. My approach is to enter the student's world and try to make a connection and find that spark that will enable them to inspire themselves. The external structuring just doesn't register in my mind somehow, although I have this faint sense of guilt that I am supposed to be pressuring and policing people, I just blank out and get sleepy when it comes time to do it.

    When it comes to relationships I am sometimes at a loss how to "work on the relationship". This is because I don't want to change the person. I don't want to make any demands or impose something on them they would not naturally be inclined towards. That seems artificial. I don't know how you can love a person unless you love their completely natural self and realign your natural self in response. When it comes to just people I meet, there are often those who seem to annoy many people for exhibiting behaviors that are typically rejected. Many times it doesn't register with me because I don't have an expectation of them. I don't wish to change the "annoying" behavior and so don't see a need to address it. If it is something that wears me down, I will spend less time with the person, but still find them a curiosity just as they are. I'm not inclined to describe this as being "nice", but it is something that I am trying to understand better and see if anyone else experiences it.

    Even with all that I am probably a J because I enjoy organizing things and making plans. I love contingency plans and to know my every escape route. I enjoy creating systems that simplify complex things through elegant organization. I just loathe to exert external structuring onto people, but enjoy exerting it onto things. I do also control my own behaviors and create systems and contingency plans so that I know I can function in any scenario. Maybe my structuring and control tends to be reactionary by nature? Sometimes I wonder if I'm missing something, and if there is something "wrong" with me because it does stand out irl in comparison to peers.

    How do you relate to control vs. non-control of the external world?
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

  2. #2
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    The lack of desire to exert control on others is an issue for me. I operate towards the opposite end of the spectrum of trying to control people. I find it has advantages and some notable disadvantages. It hampered my ability to function as a college professor. We were required to police students for coming in late or eating in class. I tended to overlook that kind of thing and even though it caused some disruption, it simply didn't seem worth addressing. I had trouble being rigid about assignment due dates and such things. In teaching individual music lessons, I find my style to be in stark contrast to other teachers. I just don't exert much structure on the student and never pressure them. I vary the schedule as needed am not bothered by cancellations or when they are late -unless it affects the next one, and then I'm not 'bothered', but just have a problem to resolve. I'm willing to take hobbyist students who don't plan to put much effort into the endeavor. My approach is to enter the student's world and try to make a connection and find that spark that will enable them to inspire themselves. The external structuring just doesn't register in my mind somehow, although I have this faint sense of guilt that I am supposed to be pressuring and policing people, I just blank out and get sleepy when it comes time to do it.
    I think I understand that. I think I've resolved it for the moment by not interacting with others much, although I hope that I don't have to do that forever. I'm good at controlling myself and my actions, but I hate imposing on people unless I feel I have a definite right to (as in, if I'm paying them or something.) Actually, I find it hard to resist what other people ask of me unless I think it puts me in danger, in which case I go straight to being unyielding about it. I have always had a problem with giving people my lunch money if they asked for money, and then telling myself I needed to lose weight anyway. Come to think of it, it doesn't always apply to money either... but money, my possessions, my person, and my time/commitment are issues where I'm more likely to exert external control if I do at all. I usually try not to make demands on others for these things, and hope they don't demand these things of me.

    On message boards it's different somehow... it's like I feel that we're here to hash out an issue, and they've chosen to come here. Also, I guess there's something about not dealing with a tangible person that makes it easier to say what's on my mind (I don't know why).

    When it comes to relationships I am sometimes at a loss how to "work on the relationship". This is because I don't want to change the person. I don't want to make any demands or impose something on them they would not naturally be inclined towards. That seems artificial. I don't know how you can love a person unless you love their completely natural self and realign your natural self in response. When it comes to just people I meet, there are often those who seem to annoy many people for exhibiting behaviors that are typically rejected. Many times it doesn't register with me because I don't have an expectation of them. I don't wish to change the "annoying" behavior and so don't see a need to address it. If it is something that wears me down, I will spend less time with the person, but still find them a curiosity just as they are. I'm not inclined to describe this as being "nice", but it is something that I am trying to understand better and see if anyone else experiences it.
    I totally agree. That's almost exactly how I see things.
    Even with all that I am probably a J because I enjoy organizing things and making plans. I love contingency plans and to know my every escape route. I enjoy creating systems that simplify complex things through elegant organization. I just loathe to exert external structuring onto people, but enjoy exerting it onto things. I do also control my own behaviors and create systems and contingency plans so that I know I can function in any scenario. Maybe my structuring and control tends to be reactionary by nature? Sometimes I wonder if I'm missing something, and if there is something "wrong" with me because it does stand out irl in comparison to peers.
    I've always been similar here, too. You wouldn't believe how many contingencies I imagine for every conceivable situation that could occur, which unfortunately leads me to imagine the worst-case scenario all the time, and prepare for it as if were happening. It's a blessing and a curse, because sometimes preparing for the worst pays, and sometimes it just robs you of time you could have spent appreciating life.

  3. #3
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    I just remembered some scenarios that I have exerted opinion onto people. It is when there is a situation that I perceive as having an element of danger and/or crossing someone's inner boundary in a way that puts them at a certain kind of risk. It is rare, but I have jumped in irl and online in a few scenarios. Although I tend to experience the exchange from many vantage points including the person I place resistance against. Online is one way I have tried to build up more assertiveness, but I sometimes become conflicted as to the need to change in that regard.

    athenian200, i want to go back and read through your post when I have more time. It looks interesting.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

  4. #4
    Senior Member Hirsch63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    There is a lot of information on controlling behaviors, but I haven't found as much concerning the opposite extreme.

    When it comes to relationships I am sometimes at a loss how to "work on the relationship". This is because I don't want to change the person. I don't want to make any demands or impose something on them they would not naturally be inclined towards. That seems artificial. I don't know how you can love a person unless you love their completely natural self and realign your natural self in response. When it comes to just people I meet, there are often those who seem to annoy many people for exhibiting behaviors that are typically rejected. Many times it doesn't register with me because I don't have an expectation of them. I don't wish to change the "annoying" behavior and so don't see a need to address it. If it is something that wears me down, I will spend less time with the person, but still find them a curiosity just as they are. I'm not inclined to describe this as being "nice", but it is something that I am trying to understand better and see if anyone else experiences it.
    I tend to share this behavior/outlook. The result often being that you are seen as passive when in fact you are making an intentional effort to "hold the other lightly". It can sometimes be percieved as an almost scientific dispassion. I would not want a relationship with someone whose behaviour I felt that I had to change. Over the years I have seen couples enter into an emotional "state of suspended animation" when they commit. The result being that after a decade long relationship (that started say, in their early twenties) they find themselves seperated in their early thirties with essentially little or no emotional/social growth.

    I have found that every instance throughout my life when I engaged in "controlling" behaviour, I ended up losing whatever advantage I thought to gain. This is a little different "on the job"...you have to make practical adjustments in many situations, no matter how uncomfortable they may make you and how mis-understood you may be.

    Practical experience has bludgeoned one thing at least into my skull: you cannot control what other beings think/do/feel. Just be your best self and give them the same consideration. I think you could call this a "non-invasive" relationship. Which is kind of cheating yourself. You may avoid some nasty lows while at the same time miss some unexpected highs that come from "messy" relationships. Oh well.

    When I teach woodworking skills, I find myself in the same situation tailoring my interaction to each students needs/abilities. This amount of accomodation can be quite tiring... But I still enjoy the process.
    Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings...Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you a king

  5. #5
    Senior Member Jive A Turkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    ...I have this faint sense of guilt that I am supposed to be pressuring and policing people...
    I've spent several years in management and my worst decisions were almost always sparked by my surrender to the pressure your mentioning. If it's not your management style don't give in. Shit, at least you'll be a little original.

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    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    How do you relate to control vs. non-control of the external world?
    Generally, I don't want control over others. Having power means having extra responsibility. I don't really want to be responsible for anyone but myself. I actually laugh inside when I hear people want to make more money so their life is easier and they have more control. :rolli: If there is anything I have learned about money, it is that the more money you make, the more other people are dependent on you. I want to make just enough money to take care of myself and those I care about. I can then put all my extra time into helping others at my own discretion. Unlike people like Bill Gates, people's jobs and the state of the economy aren't dependent upon my welfare.

    I am a control freak in one sense. I try to control how people think and feel about me. I know I can't do it, but I'm paranoid enough that I will try.

  7. #7
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    I did have one art professor who had a minimal style of control like I'm describing, and like I observe in myself. Students came and went as they pleased and often ate during class. He was an adult survivor of an alcoholic father. I think he was also an INFP. It seems like personality plays a role, but I'm also wondering about the effects of experience. I did have an episode of abuse from a very controlling person when I was a young child. I was also the youngest child in my family. My mother is quite non-controlling and was my primary influence, so that combination shaped me to only understand certain aspects of how to relate to others. I guess the issue can be rather complex when examined deeply. Sometimes I question my ability in certain contexts because of it, as though I'm not living up to expectations.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

  8. #8
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    My mental model of relationships (beyond that between parents and minor children) requires symbiosis.

    I don't want to control people per se, but I do feel I have a right for things to be mutually beneficial in some way or to at least not be harmful to me. If the relationship is not mutually beneficial I can either withdraw to some degree or I can ask for a change in behavior. If the other person is not accepting of the new terms of the relationship it is fine for them to negotiate a compromise if possible, or to withdraw from the relationship.

    IOW, my desire is to control what happens to me and in my life. Beyond that, meh.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

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    I'm not try to play devil's advocate here (or maybe I am ). But taking non-control to the extreme of avoidance can become controlling in a passive-aggressive sense. One can err on the side of omission as well as commission.

    For example, if someone is put into a leadership position, then they are expected to lead, not coddle. To the extent that they refuse to provide the expected structure and enforce the rules, they're ripping off the company--they aren't doing what they are paid to do. If it results in damage or harm, it's going to be construed as negligence.

    I've had a few instances where I've expected someone to "be there for me" in some capacity at work, and it turned out they weren't doing what I had told them. It was like stepping off the edge of a cliff when I expected to step on firm ground.

    So I think correct levels of control/non-control hinge more on expectations. To simply meet expectations is IMO the way to exert the least amount of control (IOW, the best of all possible worlds). To deviate from expectations by under-performing or by absconding and not participating when expected to participate can disconcert others and be a way of exerting "stealth" control in a passive-agressive sense.

    Not that I'm accusing any of the previous posters. I'm just saying there are points where non-control becomes so avoidant that it becomes passive-aggressive. Passivity/non-participation/under-performance can quickly fall into that category. Passive-aggressive control can be some of the most frustrating and disconcerting types of control.

    A lot depends on context and the expectations of those around you. As a result, negotiating (and subsequently meeting) expectations is probably the best way to maintain an even playing ground all the way around and keep everything honest.

  10. #10
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    So I think correct levels of control/non-control hinge more on expectations. To simply meet expectations is IMO the way to exert the least amount of control (IOW, the best of all possible worlds). To deviate from expectations by under-performing or by absconding and not participating when expected to participate can disconcert others and be a way of exerting "stealth" control in a passive-agressive sense.
    Can you provide examples of what that means?

    The example I gave of the art professor was one in which he was regularly given teaching awards because of his dedication to the school. He gave his whole self to it, but simply did not exert control over others. He worked significantly above the call of duty assisting students, giving his own talents as needed for projects, etc. He was available to those who desired what he offered, but did not force his help on anyone. It is a complex issue because traditional expectations aren't always the only way. I do agree that non-control can cause problems as well.

    Edit: It's worth making the distinction between controlling self vs. others. Being a slacker so others pick up the work is not controlling oneself, but it does look like controlling the external world to the benefit of self.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

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