The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

In control

The idea of gaining a view of what it is that is within one’s control has been around for a long time. Epictetus, a Stoic, talked about the dichotomy of control and what he saw as within our control. In our times it is, for example, Steven Covey who developed a model. It has three circles moving from what we have control of, to what can be influenced and what people find themselves concerned about.

What I notice quite often is how the realization that something is beyond one’s control often brings the decision to give up on that objective. It’s assuming that it is out of reach. From feeling in control, they have moved to a sense of having no control and choose a new objective that is focused on themselves. Others choose to rely on the process they are in, in the hope that it will lead to the hoped-for result.

It happens when they become attached to the objective and suddenly experience it as out of sight. They struggle to keep a sense of being related to the objective in these moments. The moment the objective reappears they either start to cling on to it or they become afraid that it can disappear and want to avoid that sense by detaching themselves from the objective.

What is common to those reactions to a loss of control is that they don’t investigate how their original objective relates with their circle of influence. They don’t investigate how what they can control can change the influence they have.

Learning what is within our control can be a long process. There are no easy answers to how to gain control over what is within our control. At the same time, people will often believe that something is within their control as it makes them feel more in control. It’s a confusion based on our ability to influence a situation.

What people are often afraid of is that having no control denies them success. It might help to notice that being in control doesn’t decide over success. Being in control only allows one to choose one’s response or behavior.