EPISODE 36: Letting go of Control

May 17, 2020

Artwork for podcast Overcome Pornography: The Self Mastery Podcast

Why we use pornography even when we don’t want to.

When we try to control our feelings the results begin to overwhelm us. 

The paradox of control

On a personal level, it refers to the phenomenon by which the harder a person tries to control something, the more difficult it becomes to exercise that control. Examples that are often given of this phenomenon are: (1) the harder you try to fall a sleep, the more difficulty you have actually falling asleep; (2) the harder you try to stop thinking about something, the more you think about it; (3) the more you try to control negative emotions such as fear, the more powerful those emotions become.


There is another paradox involved in this phenomenon: we get a sense of well-being when we feel we are in control, yet we do not actually have the power to control very much. The question then arises, why one or why the other. If we cannot have control over very much, why do we get a sense of well-being when we have the illusion of control? Conversely, if we have a sense of well-being when we have the illusion of control, why is it so difficult to actually exercise control? The two things seem to work against each other, and therein lies the paradox.


On the interpersonal level, when we try to control the behavior of those around us (or the things that happen to us), we find that our attempts rarely succeed.


Only when we stop trying to exercise control that we are able to get the results we desire. 


The paradox here lies in the fact that in order to exercise control, we have to stop trying to exercise control. 


I like to illustrate this with sand.  If you have ever picked up a handful of sand and tried to hold it you know that the tighter you squeeze the more the sand just falls through your fingers.  Eventually you will hold a tiny amount in your hand but the rest will just fall away because you can’t get a good grip on it.  


On the other hand, if you scoop up a handful of sand and just hold it there, letting it rest on your hand, you will find that you can have a lot more sand in your hand with very little control.  




In connection with the paradox of control, it is sometimes said that we cannot control what happens around us, but we can control how we respond to what is happening. If we shift the focus from external control to internal control we will get better results. 


That is, if we come to terms with the fact that we do not have control over the external world, we can have better control over a given situation by controlling the way we react to what is happening to us in that situation.


This is especially true of the wives of pornography users. 


If we are looking for inner peace and to feel in control, exercising control over the way we choose to think about the situation, which gives us control over our emotions and our actions is the most effective way to get to the peace, love and self confidence we are all looking for.



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