Ponderings On Control


Creating meaning when experiencing challenging times, can help support an individual’s resilience & adaptive processes to better cope with their circumstances. A sense of meaning may help to foster positive emotions such as hope, optimism, acceptance, compassion, not to mention finding the inner strength & courage to move forward. Having personal control or autonomy, has been found to have a positive impact on the individual; no matter how limited the perceived control is in the circumstances, the mind-set of choice seems to be a very potent ingredient to our sense of well-being. Suzanne C. Thompson highlights Geary’s (1998), theory that control may function within an evolutionary framework, motivating mankind’s survival instincts; as the individual who can control his environment & access resources has more of a chance to survive. We can see this drive echoed throughout history all the way up to present times, with our need to conquer areas for resources; Water, food, women. There does appear to be agreement between researchers of differing theories that a need to control motivates human behaviour & would appear to be innate.

Has this innate desire to control ultimately pushed our species towards extinction and how can we counter-act this drive? What sense of meaning can we weave within a story that can capture the hearts & minds enough to transform an innate drive that has become perilously destructive? Could this be the story of spirituality & religion?

Letting go…Surrender…Acceptance…Compassion… Sacrifice.  I wonder


Thompson. S. C.  The Role of Personal Control in Adaptive Functioning. Chapter 25, Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, Oxford University Press, 2011.

This Article was written by Romy Brooks
Romy Brooks is a qualified Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist currently studying for a MSc in Applied Positive Psychology. She has a special interest in autism & has studied & worked within...
The Comments
  • There has to be a link between the desire to control and having a lack of faith! Really interesting article, got me thinking about this. Control was a theme that came out of the Coker, (2015) study on hope, inasmuch as lack of control led to a rise in hoping. Hope is in some part linked to faith…

  • Indeed Idris, and aslaamu aliekum habibi, kefalik?
    Interestingly, placing the “Control” in the hands of another when we perceive that we don’t have any – could be seen as a final rebellious act of Control!
    It’s almost an abdication of responsibility at times… That’s a cynical view of faith I know! 🙂