For a second, let’s take a look at the way parenting works for most people. They take so much good care of their children because that’s how they believe they keep them safe. But being safe doesn’t always mean having someone take care of you.

We are so obsessed with the ideas we have in our own minds that we believe we know what’s best for anyone out there. This belief gets even more powerful when you have your first newborn. The more time you spend with your child and the more you see your child grow, the stronger the feeling of control over their lives will be. It’s a feeling that starts in a positive place and ends being probably one of the most negative feelings.

It starts as: “I want my child to be a successful person in this life.”

It usually ends as: “You shouldn’t do X, Y, and Z” combined with the child either doing them or not.

But it doesn’t have to happen between a parent and a child. That’s where you can see it most time, but it happens everywhere. You see it between two friends. You see it with your boss and your colleagues. You see it with your boss and their partners. You see it at a football game. You see it everywhere.

We believe that we know what’s best for those around us and the stronger the belief is, the more we’ll want others to do what we believe is best for them.

Good health doesn’t always mean a good immune system

If you take a good look at what having good health means, for many people it could mean taking lots of pills whenever you feel sick.

Do you have a headache? Take a pill and the pain will pass.

Do you have a toothache? Take a pill and the pain will pass.

Do you let your child play in the dirt? Take the child out of there! Are you nuts? Their clothes are going to get stained.

In fact, pills are not always the solution. Even more, letting your child play in dirt can boost their immune system.

A good educational system doesn’t always mean good education

Yes, the traditional educational system is still a viable thing, even though it has its origins in the 16th century. More than 400 years have passed since the availability of public education and the system didn’t change much.

More than that, when I went to college (around 10 years ago) the information was so old that it had almost nothing to do with what was going on outside the college. Even though 10 years passed since, the books are the same, with the same information.

Why would you want to be part of an educational system where the information is way too old and there’s a learning fee that you can’t usually afford?

Why would you want that considering the internet is full of online courses and you can learn amazing things for free or very small amounts of money?

For example, the MIT Courses are available on their website for free. You have platforms like Udemy where you can buy most of the courses for $10 to $20 because they’re always running promotions. Or, you know, you have platforms like Skillshare where you pay $40/year and have access to all their courses.

  • As of March 2019, Skillshare has over 27,000 premium classes and more than 2,000 free classes available.
  • As of 2020, there are more than 130,000 courses on Udemy.

Good life decisions …

Going back to our parent-child example, imagine a parent who’s always taking decisions for his child.

If the child is 5 or 7 years old, it makes sense. If the child is 14 or 20 years old, it doesn’t make any sense.

The ability to make good life decisions is not developed when others are doing it for us. But others believe they’re doing something good and therefore they believe they’re keeping us safe.

We, as human beings, are desperate to have control over everything. We have this need for control both with us and with those around us.

You can see it when you try to lose weight. If it doesn’t happen as you expect it to happen or when you expect it to happen, you punish yourself. You can see it when you have a conversation with someone else and you don’t really pay attention to what the other person is telling you because you want to share your thoughts.

The need for control behind losing weight or sharing your thoughts is something everyone is dealing with. But it doesn’t mean it’s keeping anyone safe.

Providing direction as a form of control

If you’ve always been in a situation where someone guided you, when the guidance is missing, you’ll crave for approval.

Guiding someone is a form of control and it generates the need for approval. For example, I am guiding you in choosing your next job – you need approval for choosing the job you decide to choose to see if it matches my standards. At first, it seems like it keeps you safe from making some bad career decisions, but in the long run, it doesn’t.

The more you guide someone (child, friend, spouse, brother, sister, etc.) the more their brain will find it difficult to find a solution without external help.

When you guide someone and that person is going to succeed (even in small amounts), dopamine is released. Every time it happens, dopamine is released and the neuronal circuit becomes stronger and stronger.

The stronger a neuronal circuit is, the easier it is for your brain to activate it. This means the more you are guided, the easier is for you to be guided. But the stronger a neuronal circuit is, the harder it is for your brain to create a new one. Which means the more you are guided, the harder is for you to do something without being guided.

How to stop your need for control?

Start with paying attention to yourself. Pay attention to your needs and wants. Start loving and respecting the present version of yourself if you want to keep yourself safe.

When there’s too much control (either internal or external), there are too many expectations about a version of yourself (or others) connected to the near or distant future.

If you want to stop your need for control, be present.

With love and optimism,
David

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