Monday, February 21, 2011

controlling other people

Of course you can't - people can't really control other people - can't make them do things.  You can manipulate the heck out of the situation and the environment - but you can't control other people. 

I seek my husband's control of me - that's pretty well established at this point.  But that isn't total control.  All people retain their free will at some most basic level, this is as it should be.  And it's a discussion for another time.  Right now I'm running into the downside of this whole idea. 

Right now i'm concerned about family members who i love very much, not my husband and children, but family i love and can't influence (or control) enough to really help.   In movies or TV dramas, all imaginable circumstances are set up to work against the protagonists, their own personal flaws or tragic decisions have fed into the crisis, and the drama plays out like an inevitable train wreck.  Except that in movies or on TV some small twist of plot or sudden enlightenment and change of course, or unrealistic last second reprieve gets worked in and all is saved in the end; the protagonists only shaken and slightly scarred. 

In real life, real life happens.  The circumstances of life move on, oblivious to the people being impacted.  The people involved continue to live and make decisions the way they always have.  Health deteriorates with age.  And there is no deus ex machina. 

There are answers that would help, there are many many people trying to help, there are many people expecting me to be able to get them to accept this help.  I know it is an arrogance to think i (or we) know better than they how to run their lives - that doesn't make it less true here, just less comfortable. 

In the end, we can't control other people.  We also can't stand by and watch those we love sink into the quicksand of their lives. 


  1. Gods, I am so familiar with that feeling. Especially given recent circumstances with our family. It's hard to be the one standing there watching the train approach and trying to make them see that the light is in fact a train and they need to get out of the way.


  2. I so understand how you feel. I think we've all wanted to just run the life of someone else because we know/think they are making bad/wrong decisions. It is hard to accept that we can't, that they will do as they please or think is best regardless of how hard we try to manipulate or convince them that they should do it our way. It is especially hard when it is people so close and dear to us.

    I try to remind myself that I've often been the one standing in front of the train completely oblivious (to reference lil) and refusing to listen to the warnings of those who are standing near watching the train approach. It helps relieve some of the frustration knowing that the roles have been reversed at times.

    Many hugs,


  3. greengirl,
    I know you care deeply for whomever it is you are talking about. I've been where you are now, and I've been the girl on the tracks, oblivious of the locomotive rushing towards her. Please, please, as much as you need to reach in and try to pull them out, be careful, and stay mindful of your own well being. Do not let them drag you into the quicksand with them.


  4. Maybe you can't control, but you certainly can influence. I've always found that an "I know it's really none of my business, but I love you and feel concerned. I'm not trying to tell you what to do and even if you decide not to follow my advice I'm okay with that, but maybe you ought to consider..."

    It disarms them because they know you're not trying to control the situation... and that you're offering advice based on your love and concern for them... and that you don't expect them to follow your advice, but you offered it anyway for their consideration. Even if they don't follow it, they'll most like listen to what you have to say. At at least you can feel better knowing you tried to help.


  5. *Hugs* greengirl. These are terrible situations with no real solutions.

    "We also can't stand by and watch those we love sink into the quicksand of their lives." This is true, but all we can really do is throw them a rope to grab on to. It's been my experience that those who most need the rope won't grab it. But keep throwing it anyway.


  6. It's a hard space to be in - watching the people you love pay a price for decisions they've made. At least, that's how I read your post today.

    I don't know, GG. Early in my first marriage, I found myself in situation after situation that I couldn't control, couldn't change, and could only try to mitigate the damage, sometimes only for myself. I don't know.

    No real advice. Just - I would ask what you're doing to take care of yourself. My motto is: If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else. So I hope you are, and hope you're being kind to yourself too.

    I'll keep you in my thoughts.


  7. lil,
    exactly - i know everyone has these situations in their life, sometimes the frustration just reaches a point.... Thanks

    Thank you. Maybe that is part of it all, this isnt a natural role for me, it's nto the way things "should be."

    My husband does make sure I'm safe in all this, adn there are a lot of people helping, that makes a difference too. Thank you.

    some times i feel like i can't even influence, but - that is what it is too. I will keep doing what i can to mitigate anyhow, sometimes just putting out fires and cleaning up. Thank you.

    You're absolutely right, and that is what it feel like - just throwing lots of ropes. Thank you.

    thank you - this has been the way of things for a very long time - it just waxes and wanes - it just happens to be waxing more these days. I have learned the hard way that i have to watch out for me too, and to keep just enough detachment. And my husband makes sure of it.