Through a Jungian Lens

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The Fallacy of Being in Control

with 3 comments

Reframing the world for understanding.

Re-framing the world in order to understand it.

I am more and more skeptical of my supposed knowledge. Once upon a time I would have said that I was an intelligent man who had a lot of answers for just about any question – just ask my children and my students. I had informed opinions on just about any topic. And, to be honest, others confirmed the idea that I was wise. I kept my eyes and ears open to the world around me and weighed everything that came in against a strong sense of right and wrong. I learned as many facts about each idea that became issues of the time. And, every once in a while I would utter truths which just seemed to come out of thin air. Surprisingly, these statements often turned out to be validated. This is where I began to wonder about just how wise I was.

I didn’t know, had no background, no experience or any other contact with some situations yet I had no hesitation in stating with authority, the response needed for a question asked. I knew I didn’t really know what I was talking about, but my mouth had its own agenda.

Now, I am older and have become convinced of just how little I really know. I tell others that I am no expert, but still there continues to be a flow of questions that come. Rather than always offer answers, I am giving space for others to continue to speak in order to let their own answers emerge. As I get older I learn that facts don’t really contain any truths. However, the voice that offers a knowing that comes from somewhere other than my ego awareness is trusted and welcomed. But more than anything else, I am learning to simply be in the moment with life and with myself. It makes me a quieter person, giving up being in charge and smart about things, about life.

Life had taught me that I never really was in control, that life wasn’t something out there to be quantified, objectified and categorised. Life was and is, something to be lived, to be experienced. Judgmental opinions don’t work some magic to improve the world in spite of all the protests, and all the we have the answers books that flood our markets and book shelves. Life is messy and simply ignores our collective noise, bending and flowing around the messes we make with our individual and collective passage, as brief as our individual lives are. And now, a few words from Thomas Moore with his take on the matter:

Things happen without any intention to make them happen. We become involved in situations that we may try to own but that resist ownership. things happen freely. Giving up the ego satisfaction of feeling in control and at the center of the action is a pure way simply to be.” [Moore, Original Self, p. 43]


Written by Robert G. Longpré

September 25, 2013 at 11:00 am

3 Responses

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  1. I think we all come to the brutal realization that the amount of control we have is quite limited. It seems the more in control I think I am, the more I realize that at those moments I am ‘supping’ with a powerful archetypal figure and was not in control at all.

    Thanks for this post.

    Storm Cestavani

    September 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm

  2. If there is better example than control as something applicable to the jungian notion the psyche doesn’t like extremes, I don’t know it. I see this all the time; people desperately trying to ‘be on control’ who are often quite ‘out of control” The harder they try the worse it gets. Its rather comic and tragic at the same time.


    September 26, 2013 at 10:24 pm

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