The Tendency to Make Controllable Things Uncontrollable

Have you ever tried to drive downhill on a foggy and rainy day on a slippery and icy road?

You know well that driving under such conditions is difficult. You lose control of the car and eventually, you lose your self-control with fear, uncertainty, and loss not knowing what to do.

Driving in such conditions is risky.  Surprisingly, some of us do this, making our somewhat controllable lives uncontrollable, and lose everything.

We mislead ourselves that going down is always easier than going up. Yes, it is when we walk up ladders or mountains, but we go up in controllable and slow steps.

We commit small mistakes but they could ruin our reputation.

We focus on our weaknesses to lose self-esteem. This is what Biljana Savic expressed elegantly “If we accept our strengths, instead of constantly examining where we are much worse, it seems to me that we will not destroy our self-esteem”.

We have confidence in what we do and lack competence sometimes. This leads to what I called “The Banana Scale of Ignorance”. We tend to throw away ripened banana with dark spots with confidence but lacking the competence of knowledge that we throw away what we should be eating.

Think of the examples above.

When we lose control of our thinking and actions, we may control nothing. We drive our lives in the dark on a slippery and foggy road. We become the incompetent drivers of our paths in this life. We allow outside circumstances to steer us randomly.

I used to be a customer of a supermarket for years. He delivered to my home three expired items. When I called the manager to complain he said that we could not return what we bought.

We spread the news to our community to beware of what the supermarket did to be more cautious and avoid accepting expired items. Sadly, the supermarket is closing doors now.

Why do we behave in such ways?

Why do we give others control of our lives?

Mind you, the fall down is faster, terrible, and costly and the effect is going bankrupt in values, reputation, and in money.


Ali Anani
Ali Anani
My name is Ali Anani. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia (UK, 1972) Since the early nineties I switched my interests to publish posts and presentations and e-books on different social media platforms.

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  1. Ali, thank you for your feedback, which, by the way, allows me to clarify why I mentioned acceptance.
    Control and certainty give us a sense of security. Thus, it is natural to want to control things (and often people too) with the idea that if we can control them, we will be safe and happy or successful.
    The problem is, we can’t control most things in life, and trying to control them doesn’t necessarily make our lives better. Many things are beyond our control and trying to bend them to our will only creates more resistance, stress and conflict.
    Psychologists will certainly know how to overcome this problem.
    I mentioned acceptance because I think that rationally we all know that we can only control ourselves and, therefore, with acceptance we can consciously distinguish what is under our control and what is not, stop giving unwanted advice and/or push situations to be something they are not. We can “surrender” to what is out of our control and allow things to be the way they are without forcing them to change at our will. It means stop trying to control the outcome of events and allow people to make their own choices (even when we disagree).

  2. The illusion of control over everything we are doing for our future is common to all of us. We certainly have to invest our time to achieve what is manageable within our capabilities.
    But not all of it is. In part, the future is uncontrollable.
    Science teaches that there are different types of cognitive bias (confirmation, excessive trust, optimism, etc.) including, precisely, the illusion of control. Each of us is aware of managing various situations through skills and competences. But it is necessary to remember that there are also fortuitous and random aspects.
    The need for control leads to finding excuses to arrange eventualities and unforeseen events in a defined and rational framework.
    Like all biases, even the illusion of control is not harmful in an absolute sense. However, it brings with it a point to think about: when we start creating causal links between facts that are not really connected, we think we can control the future. But in this way we only alienate ourselves from the real world. And unknowingly, we reduce our real ability to intervene in situations.
    The suggestion is therefore to learn to accept that not everything can be controlled. And it is therefore necessary to invest time in useful actions in achieving what is manageable through our abilities.

    • I am taken by the beauty of your comprehensive comment Aldo Delli Paoli

      In fact I would expand it into an article because of richness. I hope you would do this.

      This article adds one dimension that few discussed.It is about us surrendering what we can control.
      For example, cheating customers ruins trust and reputation and we all know the ill-cascading effevts of this.
      And yet some businesses cheat by selling expired products, gaming delivery dates, selling original products that are mot and the list goes on.

      So, the business that was under some control is now uncontrollabe because it is sliding down a steep slope to bankreuptcy.
      We made the somewhat manageable business unmanageable.