By Maria Katafigioti (Athens)


Control. Having just read & watched Gone Girl and having recently been placed in a situation where I had to make a choice of whether to push on or let go, I found myself thinking about best ways to exercise control. The idea that sometimes the best way to gain control is by letting go just wasn’t getting through to me, though it sounded good in theory. Without an example, I had trouble understanding how that could possibly work.


In Gone Girl, Amy attempts to exercise complete control over her own life and everyone else, but at the moment when she seems most in control, events spiral entirely out of her volition, and she ends up being controlled by external circumstances and a different type of manipulator. Similarly, particularly needy, insecure people, who are trying to tie their friends or significant others to themselves via constant control or checking in, not only push them away, but lose control over their own lives. It is painfully self-evident when someone desperate is trying to push his/her way into a more dominant position, and it is easy to use their need or desire to your own advantage.

By letting go of this constant control and giving space, you put yourself in a more empowered position. I once watched a show about training horses. The most successful trainer turned out to be a guy, who, upon walking into a rodeo with a wild horse, would not attempt to mount or overpower it, but instead, walked away from the horse, arousing its curiosity and getting it to follow him around until the horse was ready to let him get close and start training.

I try not to think too much about psychological games with needy, desperate singles, where each side puts down the other in order to make their target even more needy and score points. That’s a rather primitive view of control, uninteresting, and likely to backfire. The controller becomes dependent on his or her own need to control and while not dependent on any particular victim, eventually becomes addicted to the adulation of the more vulnerable, and unable to form healthier relationships.

Instead, I think of control as carving out space in a sculpture, chiseling away at the extraneous, until the desired goal begins to take shape. Control comes not from a desperate chase and the repetitive hitting of one’s head against the wall, but from a patient, confident resolve, the ability to exercise self-restraint, and from being able to see and create alternative options, no matter how desired a goal is, and how close or far it may appear.

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