I believe that a person will feel good about himself or herself to the degree to which they feel that they are in control of their own life.
This does not mean that you can always control the events that happen to you, however you can always control the meaning that comes from those events.
That last sentence is worth writing down and memorising because within it contains one of the most important things to learn in life.
Unfortunately many will never understand how to take control of their reality and will perpetually give away their power to others who will dominate, use, abuse and control them.
This lack of power manifests itself in all areas of life for those people and as a result they experience feelings of inferiority and create insurmountable obstacles that only exist in their imagination.
If you passionately expect the worst from yourself and your environment then you will prove yourself right every single time.
A person’s mind is the most powerful tool on the planet and if a person believes in something with enough intensity then that belief becomes their reality.
Now that we understand that our beliefs are formed through our perceptions and interpretations we can look at the ways that people gain control and how they give it away.
Control of language
The words that we use often have control over our emotional states and it is easy to underestimate the power that they have over us.
It is a shame that so many people use language to plunge themselves into a state of depression, despondency, and inferiority.
As simplistic as this sounds, if a person keeps repeating the belief that they are inferior to others with enough emotional intensity, then their behaviour will prove themselves to be right every single time. They will ‘act’ in the same way that they ‘spoke’ and ‘thought.’
The power of language has been used in mythology, allegories, theology and psychology in the forms of spells, incantations, curses, linguistic patterns and hypnotic suggestions. Each of these linguistic forms has power if they are believed (even if the dialogue is only expressed internally) and they have a huge amount of power to help or to hinder.
If someone keeps repeating that their competition is ‘superior’ then they strengthen their competition every time and weaken themselves every time, it works just like a spell, but unfortunately one that many people use against themselves to make themselves weaker, and this crates a victim cycle, where their thoughts and actions lead them into a downward spiral.
The truth is that they are creating their own downfall with the self-defeating language that they use.
An example of a person who used language with the greatest amount of skill and mastery was the psychologist Milton Erickson. The incredible thing about Erickson’s story is that he contracted the disease polio as a teenager and became physically paralysed. As a result of this he strengthened his linguistic and sensory capabilities then he went on to become one of the most influential psychologists of all time. The field of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) was hugely influenced and shaped by the power of Erickson’s language and ability to change behaviour in himself and in others.
His example is so profound because he began on applying the lessons to his own situation and then he was able to apply his lessons to others.
‘Let him that would move the world first move himself.’ – Socrates
The founders of NLP Richard Bandler and John Grinder used Milton Erickson’s ways of communication to create a ‘Milton model’ of communication and they also created a ‘Meta-model’ of communication that showed the structure of how we can use language to our benefit or disadvantage. These models are still of immense value today and well worth studying in detail and within those models contain a great deal of material to obtain self-control.
‘It is possible to take complete control of your world by changing the way that you use language.’ – Brian Grant
Control of actions
Milton Erickson was also hugely influential because he was able to control the actions of himself and others through his use of hypnotic suggestions, agreement frames, empathy and commands.
There is a long history of hypnosis that extends back for thousands of years and it appears that the intentions for maintaining control over others change depending upon the culture and society.
We also see that there are a number of ways to control the actions of others in society such as:
- Media (TV, radio, Internet, social media, etc.)
- Music (hypnotic lyrics, sound frequencies, etc.)
- Management (punishment and reward, etc.)
- Leadership (charismatic, polarizing, etc.)
- Persuasion (social tools of influence, etc.)
- Advertising and marketing (influencers, public relations, etc.)
- Political (Ideological systems, propaganda, etc.)
- Others (religious, social, etc.)
Each of those areas would require a book within itself to fully understand how each of them work on the minds of individuals and groups, however they all share the fact that they have the potential to control large amounts of people through various marketing and distribution methods.
Some institutions deliberately release contradictory messages to appeal to various sections of society to garner a larger audience. The dual party political system (left wing vs. right wing, liberal vs. conservative, etc.) is a good example of how to control voters from one extreme or the other while maintaining both parties firmly within the political system.
Pop music is another example of how messages can be used from certain artists to promote specific agendas to their audience, and provide subliminal message to influence the thinking and behaviours of others.
As a result of seeing the previous list it is possible to be overtaken with a sense of fear that at any one moment they are ‘under attack’ from the thoughts and beliefs of other people and institutions that have a specific agenda to sell something, share something, promote something or manipulate their thoughts and behaviour.
There is a defence for any type of method of manipulation or mind control, and that is to be fully aligned with your PURPOSE. The success author Napoleon Hill called this your MAJOR DEFINITE PURPOSE and if you are in tune with this then you will not be able to be swayed by others who would want to take you off your path.
In Lewis Carroll’s novel ‘Alice in Wonderland’ there is a section where Alice (the plucky heroine) encounters the Cheshire Cat and inadvertently receives an important lesson.
Alice: `Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
Cat:`That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’
Alice: `I don’t much care where’
Cat: `Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’
Alice: `So long as I get somewhere,’
Cat: `Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, `if you only walk long enough.’
If you do not know where you are going then any path will take you there.
Some may see the previous encounter a whimsical encounter between two fictional and partially absurd characters in a Victorian novel, and yet within it lies the very reason why the majority of people will never achieve anything significant in life, not because they are lacking intelligence or ability, alternatively because they allow themselves to be distracted by subjects and activates that have a low impact on long-term success.
Due to this lack of focus many people will underachieve in life and blame external factors for their lack of success.
The truth is that we all have the same 24 hours in each day and if a person spends their time on making other people successful and neglects their own purpose then their lack of success is their own problem, even if they are not responsible for the instruments of influence that attempt to capture their attention.
‘Control your own destiny or someone else will.’ – Jack Welch
Self-control and control of information
There are a number of people lack self-control because they believe that external forces control their reality.
An example of this within scientific thought would be Isaac Newton’s laws of motion, published in his 1687 work Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy). It is important to note the title of the work as Newton did not call his work science or even scientific, but natural philosophy. Nevertheless Newton is often seen as a representative of science and the age of the Enlightenment.
Another important thing to remember is that labels are often attached to people and groups that have nothing to do with the recipient of the label, but much more to do with the labeller.
A scientific law is something that predicts a specific outcome every single time and cannot be falsified (disproved) by experimentation, observation or experiences. However Newton’s laws only work within a specific area of the physical world and not in relation to how a person thinks.
Another interesting thing about Isaac Newton in relation to control is that according to many sources he remained celibate (abstaining from sexual relations) throughout his entire lifetime.
‘I consider my greatest accomplishment to be lifelong celibacy.’ – Isaac Newton
If this is true then the fact that he would consider this his greatest achievement in a lifetime of an incredible body of work may possibly be due to the amount of self-control that it required in doing so.
Another example of control is the ability to define someone else’s reality and have them live according to that definition. However, the practice of self-control is the ability to define your own reality regardless of what other people or institutions say.
We will always act in exactly the way that our beliefs allow us to act. If we believe that we do not have the power to change our situation then we will never be able to have control over our lives no matter how much potential or power we would have at our deposal.
An example of a conflicting situation can be seen in the story of the later years of the natural philosopher Galileo Galilei who could see celestial objects through his telescope and prove that it was not the Earth but the Sun that was at the centre of our solar system (heliocentric model) and this contradicted beliefs from the Hebrew and Jewish cultural and religious texts that wrote that the Earth was at the centre of our solar system (geocentric model). The geocentric model also derived from the influential Greek thinkers Aristotle and Claudius Ptolemy.
An institution that had a significant amount of control over the minds of people at the time that Galileo lived was the Roman Catholic Church. It was founded in the 4th century AD and was an amalgam of a number of older traditions and schools of thought from various schools of thought including Hebraism, Gnosticism, Kemetic/Ancient Egyptian cosmology, Platonism, Stoicism, and Mithraism to name a few. The Roman Empire converted to the Catholic faith due to the desire and influence of the Emperor Constantine. This allowed the institution to spread to all parts of the Roman Empire where the control, power and influence of Rome made many of the pagan subjects change their beliefs to align with this new religious and political institution. This new area of converted ‘believers’ many of whom were converted by violence would come to be known as Christendom.
Sir John Hegarty, the advertising luminary and co-founder of the influential agencies TBWA and Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) identified the Roman Catholic Church as one of the most long-lasting brands in existence.
The idea that the Church is a brand would surprise many and I agree with Sir John Hegarty on this point. I would also add that brands are based upon the power of beliefs and not necessarily on truth.
Brand awareness can also be created and disseminated peacefully or violently, through forceful persuasion or subliminal messages. The objective is to leave a lasting impression in the minds of those who can see or relate to the brand.
The origin of the practice of creating symbols and letterforms can be traced back to the Nile Valley civilizations and from the 3rd millennium BCE they would also mark an animal’s skin with symbols form hot irons and this is the first recorded example of using identifying markers. The word brand comes from the middle ages and is of Germanic origin, it means ‘to burn’ and in relation to institutions the brand represents a common mark or place of origin.
The symbol of the cross is an ancient symbol that predated the Catholic Church by thousands of years, and when the Church was formed, after a number of council meetings the cross was adapted and used as a symbol for the identity of the Church in addition to other ancient signs and symbols that would be incorporated into the new organisation.
A thing to remember is the identity of the Roman Catholics were created from a vast amount of disparate and separate groups that all spoke different languages and participated in vastly different cultures, however due to their position of being controlled by Rome they submitted (sometimes unwillingly) to the new political identity of Christendom, so the unity of one organization was created from a multitude of cultures, languages and tribes.
This is important to understand because many people are completely ignorant of how brands are created and yet they will fight to belong to a brand because of their beliefs about the brand and not their knowledge about the brand.
Even though the western half of the Roman Empire fell in the 5th century AD the Roman Catholic Church remained as an influential power in the regions that the former Empire controlled.
There are a number of elements that brands share to keep themselves relevant and this can be seen in the Church
- Identity (cross, ancient symbols, etc.)
- Imagery (commissioned art based on the orders of the Papacy, etc.)
- Story (creation story of the origin of the faith, etc.)
- Equity (gaining new converts to the organization, etc.)
- Promise (pleasure of Heaven, or torture in Hell, etc.)
- Differentiation (no need for circumcision, edited editions of texts, etc.)
- Communication (Bishops, Clergy, Knights, etc.)
- Enforcement (public torture, inquisitions, burnings, etc.)
Those are just a few ways that brands are maintained and enforced to the minds of people to create control and conformity.
The largest brands of today operate in a similar way although the methods of influence and persuasion have evolved and become far more sophisticated, largely due to influential figures such as Ivy Lee and Edward Louis Bernays, (the founders of the public relations industry) and the rise of the advertising industry as well as the increased understanding of human behavior using methods such as conditioning, anchoring, subliminal messaging and behavioural methods of influence.
During the 12th century the Catholic Church would begin an inquisition to control and ‘bring order’ the rebellious and disparate elements of the people under the authority of the Church.
There were inquisitions all throughout the former Roman Empire and the Catholic Church and its agents would use methods of torture and terror to gain control of the minds and ‘souls’ of people who threatened to relinquish power away from the Church.
A fight for control can be seen when we return again to the natural philosopher Galileo. He agreed with the Copernican idea that the Sun was at the centre of our solar system.
Galileo’s heliocentric theories and proofs threatened a shift of power away from the Church, and in many respects they were correct in relation to those fears. In 1633 Galileo was made to recant (take back) his findings at the threat of torture. He was sentenced to formal imprisonment at the orders of the Inquisition, and there he would remain for the rest of his life.
His offending work the ‘Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems’ was banned and placed on a list of forbidden books, he was also ordered not to write again.
This was another way of maintaining control, by controlling the amount of information and type of information that would be published. Either people or their works would be burnt at the stake for what was called heresy (a view that differs from the perspective of the Church).
Looking back at this event a few hundred years after we can make a few observations, and we can clearly see that even though the actions of the Church were tyrannical, evil and repressive, they were not fools. They understood that in order to maintain control of a brand and people’s minds you must maintain a particular image through specific means, some may be peaceful and others through acts of violence and terror.
This is another very important lesson to understand. For a number of institutions and organizations the truth is something that must be kept away from people’s eyes and ears.
Even though the works of Galileo and many other authors were placed on a list of forbidden books, the knowledge was still disseminated and shared while the Church authorities tried to control the information. Another fascinating thing about brand loyalty is that a devotee of a brand will completely suspend logic and their ability to think and justify their affiliation to the brand until they die.
The surest way to lose control of anything is to be absorbed into the reality of someone else while they manipulate and supplant your own thoughts.
Determinism and free will
Determinism is the belief that all external events are out of your control. Free will is the opposite and this means that you are in complete control of your actions.
The outcome of our lives can be assessed by our beliefs about our capabilities to make things happen in the world.
One reason why people put up with the most horrific and terrible circumstances is because at an unconscious level they believe that they are ‘destined’ to experience those circumstances and it would not happen to them if it was not meant to happen. In many respects these people are accepting the role of being a victim. They affirm phrases like ‘there are no mistakes in the universe’ and other incantations that keep them imprisoned in their current circumstances.
‘I hate victims who respect their executioners.’ – Jean-Paul Sartre
The people who change the world and everything in it do so through the power of their skills and imagination.
Winners make things happen, and losers allow things to happen to them. It is also important to point out that if a person is unaware that they have the power to control their thoughts then they will often act like victims by default.
The highest level of control is self-control, and if a person has that then they will be able to thrive within any environment or situation.
‘He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.’ – Lao Tzu
If you are interested in understanding more about how to use the principle of control then re-read this section again a couple of times until you really begin to understand how it works, alternatively if you want to consult with us for yourself or your organisation then you can get in touch with us by clicking below.