This post is part of a series I am doing on False Belief Systems (FBS). What we believe matters because it affects how we think, which affects our emotions, which affects our behaviors.
A starting place to understand the FBS “If I’m not in control, something bad will happen” is to acknowledge that it comes from a good heart. The reality is, you don’t want something bad to happen. That’s good.
But, the main problem with it is the belief that you can and should control things you were never intended to control. Some people would say you are “trying to play God”, but even God doesn’t control other people. He has given us a free will. So, the truth is, you are trying to create a happy and comfortable reality for yourself and for those you love.
But desiring to create a happy and comfortable reality for yourself isn’t the real problem. Where it crosses into a problem is when you try to control things that you are not authorized to control, which is mostly other people’s decisions.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “but if I let a loved one make this decision (or not make a decision), something bad will happen!” And with that hypervigilance, fear, panic and eventually exhaustion set in. An accident might happen, divorce might happen, failure might happen, or worse. And there are actual consequences you may have to live with because of it.
So, if it comes from a good heart, why is this belief system so harmful? It’s harmful because you take the freedom from others to make their own decisions. This control fosters resentments, irresponsibility, rebellion, tension, and broken relationships. You stand back scratching your head thinking, ‘this person (who won’t be controlled by me) has major problems.’ And maybe they do. But it blinds you from seeing your part and letting go.
A healthy True Belief System (TBS) to move to is “My needs are my responsibility, your needs are your responsibility.” The importance of letting others be responsible for themselves means they also must bear their own consequences. This can feel devastating when it’s a loved one who loses a job, ends up homeless, leads to divorce, or ends up in jail (or worse.) But the freedom you both experience and the health that comes to your relationship is amazing!
The truth is bad things might happen. However, by attempting to be in control of other people’s decisions you ensure that bad things will happen because you’ve attempted to take away the autonomy of another and that is bondage. Using fear, obligation, and guilt to control the outcome can be (and usually is) oppression, even when it comes with good intentions.
If (or when) bad things happen, you will need to take care of your responsibilities, and you can let others take care of their responsibilities. If they don’t (or don’t do it in the way you approve) then it’s on them.
If panic is setting in right now, you have some work to do. You are not alone as this is a common FBS that I work with people on. Gather some community around you to help you let go of control and be accountable to them. You will find freedom and so will those around you.