SPIRITUAL SOAP: Are You Guiding People or Controlling Them? | Audio
Wielding influence without force.
Before we were The Black Sheep, we were a newsletter named Spiritual Soap. Please enjoy this article from our history!
This is the first audio episode in a new, recurring feature of my newsletter. Each audio episode comes with notes and reflection questions to help you turn the ideas into tangible, personal changes if you want to go further.
The text portion will be available for free subscribers, but subsequent audio episodes will be for paid subscribers only. Get a free month of my newsletter to kick off this new feature:
Controlling versus Guiding:
So many problems in our society and personal relationships arise from trying to control what we aren't meant to control.
There's nothing wrong with trying to help people make better choices; it’s a natural human impulse that helps us all improve.
Forcing versus sharing. Offering advice and advocating for your beliefs doesn’t make you responsible for the outcome of someone choosing to try your way out—forcing them does.
Observational learning and modeling. Every single human being learns by watching what other people do.
Modeling is a better strategy for creating change without control. The psychological concept of doing something so someone else learns from your actions is also the basis of many famous quotes from wise, world-changing figures throughout history.
Being a model for others requires vulnerability and courage. You can't be a model if you aren’t willing to be seen and criticized.
We can be each other’s trip guides. If you're guiding someone on psychedelics, you can't control their experience. Trying to control someone’s trip will freak them out and backfire, but we try to control other people’s experiences every day. Instead, we can guide them by offering options they can consider.
Being a trip guide requires getting rid of ego. When someone else is tripping, you don't get defensive about their questions or statements, you don't try to argue with them. You understand they're having an individualized experience and it's dysfunctional to make it about your experience.
Conclusion: It’s a healthy, constructive impulse to want to influence other people toward what we believe will help them and our society. Destruction happens when we shift from wanting to guide people to wanting to control them. We need a strategy for acting on our desire to help others in a way that’s healthy and functional for all, which requires identifying when we’re acting from genuine care versus fear.
Controlling versus Guiding:
When do I most find myself wanting to control others; is it in romantic relationships, parenting, politics?
Thinking about a specific issue you want to influence people on: Do I really want other people to find better ways of being or am I just scared that they're trying to take my ways of being from me? Identify care vs fear.
What are some things I can model to the world that feel good and don't depend on whether other people cooperate? Being more friendly, sharing the books I'm reading, smiling more when out and about, etc.
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