When reacting to problems people choose from two paths. One path we call The Control Cycle. The other is The Power Cycle. The more common reaction is the need to feel in control. This need comes from angst or similar below-the-line feelings in The Responsibility Process, and being from below the line they lead us to act below the line.
But what is The Control Cycle?
The Control Cycle is a natural pattern of behavior that comes from wanting to address the angst we feel when we are experiencing a problem. As you can see in the banner above, The Control Cycle is a self-reinforcing system dynamic that we use for addressing problems and trying to feel in control.
We enter The Control Cycle when an upset has us feeling out of Control. Many of us attempt to control everything we can.
This leads to step 2: Evaluation
Evaluation means we have a knee-jerk evaluation that the problem is bad or wrong.
As an example, in response to a problem we shout “Oh No!” Or we say, “My screen froze, is that bad? That’s bad, isn’t it?”
Which leads to step 3: Advice
After deciding what is wrong and what shouldn’t have happened, we ask “what is right?” or “what should I do? We are seeking that which will put us back in Control. We are seeking advice. We ask ourselves and we ask others “What should I do?”
Which leads to step 4: Compliance
Once we find an answer, we then make rules for ourselves. Now that we have new rules, policies, and/or checklists for action, our angst is eased and we feel in Control again.
Which leads to step 1: Control
Now we feel “good” and in control with our new rules, added to the list of old rules and as long as nothing new happens, or we don’t forget a rule, or miss a checklist, or slip-up, or nothing goes wrong, or we don’t want to learn or grow then we’ll be fine.
However, something new will happen, or we forget a rule, or miss a checklist, or slip-up, or something related goes wrong …
Which leads to step 2…
Hence, in The Control Cycle we never really solve any problem, we only temporarily solve our anxiety about the problem, but it will return. So while fast and easy, in The Control Cycle we never grow.
Get Started With This 5-Minute Practice Tip
This week, I want you to start noticing your anxiety about a problem without jumping into The Control Cycle to make yourself feel better. Instead, simply notice the evaluation and remove it so the situation is not good or bad, or right or wrong. Instead, it is merely something that you want or don’t want. When you do this you can start to see what the real problem might be.
We like to say ‘Every upset is an opportunity to learn.’
Next week, we’ll look at The Power Cycle.