Uncontrollable Fears

Multiple times in this class, the discussion of the need for humans to control everything has been brought to attention. As I read the posts about it and listened to the discussions in class, I hadn’t really been too interested in this topic as much as many of the others that we discussed. Until today. As I was sitting in the lifeguard chair, thinking about many different things in order to keep myself alert, I realized that not only do humans try to control the animals and the environments around them, but they also try to control other people. The most obvious example is parents trying to control children, which in our society makes complete sense because we think of children as young people to mold into our idea of a perfect human. Yet, there are many different forms of controlling them. Looking around the pool, I saw verbal actions (yelling), affectionate actions (hugging, smiling), and also physical actions (spanking, forceful movements). While these actions had different bases, they usually ended up winning control over the children. Still, there were other relationships around the pool where humans were trying to control each other. Spouses, siblings, friends, all trying to persuade others to do what they wanted to do, leave when they wanted to, act how they wanted them to. Why are humans so power crazy?

To counter this, I began to think about things humans can’t control. I noticed that most of what humans can’t control is what we tend to be afraid of our dislike. Firstly, fear. Some of the biggest and most common fears I hear of are fears of free falling (and the sensation of free falling), the ocean, and spiders. I can connect all of these to a lack of being in control. When free falling from a plane (sky diving), or having a sensation of free falling (perhaps on a roller coaster?), humans do not have nearly as much control over how their body is traveling as when they are flat footed on land. The ocean is feared by many because of the millions of unknown, uncontrollable creatures living in the waters and the tides and currents imposing their power whenever they feel. Spiders are also a common fear, most likely because they are fast, little, eight legged creatures that don’t listen to commands and can pop out of almost anywhere at any time. While these fears aren’t all similar magnitudes, I feel that the idea of a fear is more about the fear of not being able to control these elements that appear in a human’s life. I feel the same for many people’s dislikes. Some humans dislike surprises, swimming, and medicine. Surprises bring an element of unknown into a person’s life, and they have no control over the event or action that occurs because of it. Swimming may not be a natural leisurely activity for some people, and they may dislike it because they have little control over how their body floats or moves in water (yet, if a human practices and works at it, they can become better and will probably end up liking it more). Taking medicine can be viewed as a weakness to some people because they cannot control the pain in their body or the reaction it is having to an allergy, and have to let a small perishable impose its control over part of the human. When thinking about humans this way, it is more understandable why control is so desperately craved by so many of our species. Maybe if we can learn to let go of our need to control, we can enjoy some of our fears or dislikes in our lives and be able to live our lives a little more fully.

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4 Comments

  1. I think you are definitely right that humans need control in their lives. I think it’s a part of our human nature. We always want more and we never want to stop. We are power hungry and we like being able to control other people. That is why, in certain circumstances when there is a lack of control, we develop fears and phobias.

  2. This is interesting I guess I have never thought of parenting as trying to be in control of a child. But there is definitely a sort of dominance a parent tries to assert over a child. The same sort of obedience is expected from pets and even plants around the house, we cut the grass and trim trees because them growing by themselves is not something we control.

  3. I agree that humans are a very controlling species. I think it is just natural for a human to try to control whatever they possibly can. It is like a safety net and I feel like what humans cannot control sparks fear. For example, I was on a jet ski with my friend the other weekend and when she was in control driving I was scared, but when I had control of it I was not scared at all.

  4. Science shows that the brain is plastic in the sense that neural pathways that are stimulated are ones that last and build the personality of the individual. It then makes sense for parents to rear their children to have good habits because the things that are reinforced at a young age become second nature as an adult. I think letting go of attempting to control things that our out of your control (illness, someone’s love life, etc.) is an important part about growing up.

    By the way I was a lifeguard too so I know exactly what you mean about thinking about things to stay focused lol.

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