The Ego of Control

Sounds heavy, huh?  Loud drum roll….

Knowledge is the key to success, or better yet ignorance is NOT bliss, so if we don’t KNOW about this big, scary, Ego of Control, we won’t know if we are making allies with it either.  Let’s take a look at where is comes from and how it manifests itself so that we will be able to identify its working in our lives.

Dr. Shefali Tsbary teaches in The Conscious Parent that the ego of control can stem from an upbringing where emotional control was valued over emotional expression.  Because an outburst of emotional expression was believed to be a weakness, suppressing emotions became an automatic tactic.  She also notes that from this we develop rigid standards for those around us and for life itself.  We feel a need to exert our control over life by passing judgment on situations and expressing disapproval, which gives us a feeling of superiority, as if we are in charge of our emotions and above the trials of life.

Some typical tactics of the ego of control are:

  • criticism
  • reprimand
  • guilt-tripping
  • judgment
  • demonstrating our superior knowledge.

Dr. Tsbary gives an example of  how one might identify this form of ego:

With this egoic imprint, the tendency is to view power and control as a means of security…As parents, they are likely to unleash their need for control particularly on those who are disenfranchised, such as when parenting their own children or as teacher in school.  They become adults who are unable to tolerate any disrespect for their status, using their role to foster inhibition in others.

I have to admit that this sounds familiar.  How many times as parents do we say, “Don’t disrespect me!” and feel threatened when our superior role is questioned.  How many times do we stifle our own emotions, and also our children’s emotions?   How often do we silently, or not so silently, show our disapproval of what our children are doing, passing judgment on the smallest infractions?  Does this ring true?

For now, start to notice if you can identify with any of this ego of control working in your interactions with others.  Stop and notice when you are feeling a reaction coming on that is laced with judgment, criticism, guilt-tripping, or reprimand.  Pause and think, is this my need for control?  Is this a trigger that I commonly fall prey to?  Do I get angry if I feel disrespected?  Do I feel the need to display my superior knowledge to others?  Do I have a problem tolerating outbursts of emotion in myself and others?  Stop and notice.  If we can recognize that it is an internal trigger, due to our attachment to the ego of control, then we also have the power to do something about it.  Step one is: See if you can identify it.  Not an easy task.

If this doesn’t resonate with you don’t worry, this is only one form of ego.  I will discuss others in detail later.  Tomorrow I will share with you an example of how I was able to identify this ego of control in my own parenting recently.  For today, just think about it, and ask yourself, is this me?