Control Dramas are ways that human beings employ to suck energies from others in the struggle for power so as to control them
There are four Dramas: The Intimidator, The Interrogator, The Aloof, and The Poor Me.
- The Intimidator:
The intimidator likes to control the situation by being in charge, and through the use of fear. Fear might be imposed by violence or threats of violence, but can also be imposed by threats of anything; financial, position etc., really. It’s the “Or else” underlying any given request. Intimidators seek to assert their authority by giving subtle or not-so-subtle reminders that if you don’t submit to their request, there will be consequences. The consequences themselves can range from very severe “Your money or your life” or much more subtle but still impactful, “If you value my friendship, you’ll do this for me” (with the implication of lost friendship if you don’t follow through with your part). It’s pretty easy to recognize Intimidators when it’s a violent, loud, abusive relationship. However, it’s still an Intimidator control drama when the threats are of the subtle “or else” that we give children, spouse, employees, the waitress at the local restaurant, etc.
Yes, I know, recognizing oneself as having done the Intimidator Control Drama is not a fun task, but it’s important for our growth to notice it, so thanks for sticking with me this far.
- The Interrogator (I refer to this Control Drama as the “Critic”)
The Interrogator is the one that asks so many questions, with an underlying goal of fault finding. For those who’ve ever been exposed to a parole, probation, or police investigation, it’s that kind of feeling. To be thought of as guilty by someone who is determined to needle the truth out of you, no matter what. However, sometimes the questioner is not so much determined to find us guilty as to just find out what we’ve been doing lately. And then comes the critical, “well, what did you do that for?” or “What were you thinking?”, (with the implication that you obviously weren’t thinking very well, or you wouldn’t have made that choice). The critic is the one who comes to your home with a white glove and checks the closets with no business going in there. The critics feel so uncomfortable with themselves, they are often looking for some way to see how you don’t measure up well either. If you’ve been asked “Can’t you be satisfied with anything?” this might be a piece of evidence that you were in your Interrogator/Critic mode.
Guilty… Again. And again I have to say, that I know it’s pretty uncomfortable to see ourselves as an Interrogator or Critic, but again, recognizing our own control drama tendencies is a huge step towards learning to step out of it.
The Aloof Control Drama is the vague, mysterious one. When asked “How was your day?” He’ll answer, “Fine.” … “What did you do today?” “Stuff,” etc. Giving very short, vague answers to any questions, or avoiding conversations altogether, the Aloof is playing a game of cat and mouse, but she doesn’t want to get caught. Ever. Like a clam or a turtle, the Aloof has learned that the best way to survive this world is to stay clammed up in his shell, and sticking his head out even for a little bit takes a great deal of courage and trust. If you’ve found yourself in a situation when you felt you were being “drilled” for information and you were doing what you could to just avoid giving out information, chances are you’ve had the experience of playing the Aloof Control Drama.
- Poor Me:
The Poor Me is the whiner and complainer. The person in this Control Drama is feeling sorry for herself and is hoping to gain some sympathy from others as she tells about all the ways in which her life is dealing her a bad deal. She may describe life as being so awful that you feel responsible to somehow fix it, or that the energy flow is almost like you are somehow responsible for all the pain and suffering the poor me is struggling to overcome. While I know no one really wants to admit that we’re playing any Control Drama, I don’t know anyone that hasn’t had a moment (or a day, or a week) of just wanting to sit down and have a good whine.
So, okay, there they are. Perhaps you see yourself in one (or more) of the Control Dramas, or perhaps, like me, it is much easier to see how OTHER PEOPLE play the Control Dramas with you while you are trying to maintain your positivity, dang it!
If that’s the case, that you’re able to easily identify other people’s control dramas, perhaps it will help you to know the dances that we play…
Generally, if you recognize that someone is playing an Intimidator Control Drama with you, it is likely that you are either playing the Poor Me, or also an Intimidator.
For example, he says something snarky, and then she retaliates with something a bit growlier, and then he replies with another grouchy comment, and then she gets a bit louder and more severe and then he also gets a bit more intense with his own voice and facial expression, and it keeps going up the ladder of intensity until one or both of them hit a “Kaboom.” Kaboom sounds and feels a bit like a volcano blowing its top, or a bomb exploding.
“But he started it!!!”
It doesn’t matter who started it, in this story. What matters, is that each time it was “your turn” in the exchange, you had an opportunity to take it up a notch on the intensity scale or to change the game to a more authentic interaction. Yes, of course, I’ve taken it up a notch on the intensity scale many, many times. Experience is a powerful teacher.
Generally, if you recognize that someone is doing the Interrogator Control Drama with you, there is a high likelihood that you’ve been playing Aloof with them. Or the reverse is also true, if you see someone playing Aloof with you, there is a high probability that you’ve been Interrogating them or that you’ve been the Critic that they’re trying to avoid.
And with the Poor Me… well, it could be that you’ve been Intimidating them, with your threats of “or else” or that you’ve been in a competition to see whose life is the worst and trying to “Out Poor Me” them.
I guess that might have been my own inner Critic stepping forward a bit and calling us both out on playing these Control Dramas in our real lives. Perhaps I might have been a bit softer in calling it out, but at this moment, it seemed like the shortest path through the healing was to rip off the band-aid and just expose the wound to air. It may sting a bit, but as we learn to notice the Control Dramas occurring, we must also learn to notice that we have the option to playing the corresponding Control Drama dance partners, or to change the music and start dancing in a new way.
The very first step towards overcoming Control Dramas and avoiding engaging in these Control Dramas with others is to recognize what is happening. If you’ve made it this far, and you’re shaking your head in recognition, you’ve taken some huge steps forward in your own spiritual growth, and for that, you deserve a round of applause and to know that I am so very proud of you.!