Alterophobia 2 – Afraid of the Other

Chapter II – The Need to Control

Why do we need to be in control, to generate previsibility and create a purposeful future?

I believe this need for control has little to do with our personality or “level of consciousness”. My sense is that is might be deeply rooted in the way we are as human beings.

And the way we are as human beings in two different domains: our biological nature and our social nature. Despite the first being very present in the last decades, informing us about how we work as biological beings (take neuropsychology, for instance), it all falls short when we do not take into account the way we relate as human beings, our social construction and fabric together.

Relational and Social Complexity

We are relational beings and use language to structure how we relate as a collective. We bring our learnings, including the ones on our biological complexity, to the domain of language.

It is by the use of language that we give meaning to the world and our lived experiences. And those experiences can be fully predicted. It is uncommon to known in advance and be in control of what will unfold of them.

Think about what happens when you meet someone for the first time – how many possibilites can unfold from that! The sensation of not knowing how the other will respond. Or how a group, an institution or someone at your family will respond to the “abnormal” situation that has just happened.

How do we deal with the constant complexity of the relational and social world?

Not a ride in the park, I’d say. Minimum side effects are us going through emotions like anxiety and fear or physical sensations like goosebumps and a revolting stomach. All typical of the emotional beings that we are.

There are, of course, strategies. One way of dealing with the ocean of complexity is through reducing, individually and collectively, our possibilities: we create deals, routines, habits and institutions, all to make sense of a world where everything changes in such an unpredictable way.

It is those creations we simplify the world, create certain previsibility and then soothe our social operations.

We can reduce the unexpected by creating agreements and conventions. Remember the meeting someone for the first time? Soon you might be talking about the weather, traffic, politics or about something that has in common the fact that we have little agency about it.

It is a relief: we can relax from the complexities of the world for a while. For a while, but for how long?

Next Chapter of the Alterophobic series… Being Different and Dealing with Difference:

How to deal with something I don’t know how to deal with? What do I do when I don’t know what to do?

Get My Articles on Your Email!

Signup now and receive an email once I publish new content.

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.