There is this cat that has been coming around our house recently that we have semi-adopted. Well, actually, the most honest version of this story is that the cat is training us to feed him. The cat will now come and jump on my lap and “allow” me to pet him in anticipation of a food reward.
Why a cat story in this posting? Glad you asked.
There are two things that make this cat uncomfortable: when I hug too tightly, or (for a full freak-out) if I try to pick him up. As long as the cat does not feel controlled he is happy to remain in relationship with me. You can see where this is going.
Can we actually control someone? Well, yes and no. I can physically restrain someone, and I can coerce or manipulate someone emotionally to do what I want them to – but I cannot make him or her desire to cooperate with me. That is a choice that belongs solely to the person.
So what about the illusion of control? I think this one is even more insidious. I attempt to control things that ultimately cannot be controlled in order to curb my anxiousness. It feels impossible to trust that things may go my way if I do not directly control the outcome. But in reality, some things are not controllable and to just accept this truth would cause me to feel empty, lonely and scared. So instead I may become clingy or angry until the full weight of my powerlessness hits and then I become empty, lonely and scared. But by that time I may have lost something.
So what can I control?
My attitude. My emotions. My actions. My expectations. There’s a theme here. I can control me.
Back to the cat. The result of picking up that cat left me with claw marks on my upper torso and some snagged clothing – and the cat got away. He eventually came back, but I think he was more cautious – and may have even given me the stink-eye for a while.
Seeking the truth helps me to give up my illusions and embrace reality, even when I much prefer my fantasies. But I guess that’s what emotional maturity is all about.
It’s something to consider. There is always help available.