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Lesson 6. Illusion of Control

Let’s overcome illusions

Today, let’s try to get rid of the illusion of control. It consists of exaggerating our ability to influence the events in our life.

I am not talking about fatalism; while it can be left on the shelf, we are not Volt Belfort, so, “let the river make the water flow. …just let everything flow. Flow with the river.”

The task is to avoid unnecessary stress, and learn to soberly look at life, and not to let everything go by itself.

Boundaries of control

It’s easy to feel the boundaries of control, having watched yourself.

Try to consistently perform three exercises.

1) 5 minutes without movement: sit without changing the pose or moving any part of the body.

First, it is not easy.

Secondly, you will find that to exercise control, you only have a fraction of a second, this is the time between the urge to move and the movement itself; when you can stop yourself.

2) 3 minutes of sensory stillness: to look at one point without looking away, not to be distracted by noise, to focus on one tactile sensation.

The ability to control in this situation is reduced by an order of magnitude: between the urge to attention movement, and the movement itself is even less time.

3) 1 minute of immobility of the mind: try not to think about anything.

The time gap for control disappears. Thoughts come and go by themselves in a notification order.

So it goes.

Control itself is obtained within very narrow limits, and control of the outside world is utopian.

Oh God! What to do??

Victor Frankl and Ichak Adizes hasten to the rescue.

Victor Frankl about Freedom

I really like the works of Austrian psychologist Victor Frankl. If you are not already familiar, I highly recommend it.

In 1942–1945, Viktor Frankl was a prisoner of Nazi concentration camps, deprived of any possibility to control his fate. Each of the 945 days in custody could be the last.

The only thing that Frankl could oppose to total external lack of freedom is the freedom to choose attitudes toward it.

Based on his experience, he formulated:

Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become in the next moment.

Here are two very important thoughts for people who want to feel happy.

The first: The control is finite, and it should not frighten.

The second: Adopting the boundaries of control is the only way to develop a realistic, and constructive attitude to life, and avoid unnecessary frustrations (including with yourself).

You can control a lot, but not everything. Where control ends, freedom of choice of attitude to what is happening begins.

Ichak Adizes about Happiness

In a very similar vein, Ichak Adizes spoke when we asked him to write a message for our users.

Adizes writes

The secret of happiness is in the realisation that you cannot be happy 100% of the time.

Life is a constant change, and changes are surprises, sometimes pleasant, sometimes not. So happiness is a willingness to observe and follow the flow, to realise that life is like a river. You cannot control it, only manoeuvre and avoid dangerous rocks.

We make ourselves unhappy by building expectations: they fuel the belief that we control the “river” of life.

For example, we expect that we will never hit stones.

The selfish belief that everything is controlled makes us unhappy.

Once we realise that some things depend on us, while others do not, knowledge of this difference gives peace of mind; which is a necessary condition of happiness.

Freedom from the illusion of control is needed to develop a reasonable attitude to life, and not to sit idly by.

It is important to accept the existence of restrictions and move forward to a more conscious and happy life, without grieving in vain if something went wrong.

To prioritise and decide where to go, go through our programme “Rediscover yourself”.

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