“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try some time, well, you might find you get what you need”. – The Rolling Stones

The Stones were definitely on to something with that lyric, to be sure.

Sometimes what we want, if we got it, it would devastate our lives. But if we put forth effort, sometimes—maybe even most times—you get what we need.

Just what is it that we human beings need?

In 1943, Abraham Maslow published his hierarchy of needs. It’s Maslow’s unscientific theory but it has been used in psychology for all these years. The needs Abe laid out are nicely portrayed in his pyramid.

This following list, courtesy of Quora, benefits from nearly 75 years of psychology, neuroscience, and sociology research beyond what was known when Maslow wrote his.

  1. Food – The body needs calories and a variety of nutrients including protein, fat, and carbohydrates every day to grow, function, and repair. Without food, the body begins to atrophy.
  2. Water – Ample hydration allows for the processes of the body to occur. Without water the body cannot process food or remove wastes.
  3. Shelter – We require protection from blazing sun, freezing temperatures, wind, and rain. Without shelter, human skin and organs are damaged from extreme temperatures.
  4. Sleep – 6–9 hours of sleep every 24 hours allows the brain to process new knowledge and deal with emotional information. Without ample sleep we cannot learn new things or get past emotional pain.
  5. Others – Adults require connection (physical or emotional) with other humans to release certain hormones like oxytocin. Human touch is so important that when we are young, our brains don’t develop correctly without it. Regular connection to others allows us to maintain a sense of well-being that allows for self-care.
  6. Novelty – Novelty creates the opportunity to learn and the potential to fail, which stimulates dopamine release in the brain. Without regular novelty, motivation wanes and a healthy sense of well-being is lost.

In the end, however, what we really need to survive are just the above first four.

What we human beings want is another story all together. One of the most natural human tendencies is to want what we can’t have.

Additionally, if there are two things we know, at least subconsciously, is that we do not have much power or control in this life. If this moment of human history provs anything, it proves that. Still, we didn’t need a worldwide pandemic and economic shutdown to understand it.

It is evidential that for the most important things that ever happen to us, we had absolutely no control or power over. Things like: what sex we were born, what our hair and eye color would be, to what family and birth order we’re born into, what our height would be, what our body type is, what age of history we were born, what socio-economic level we were raised in, what country we were born in, what our IQ will be, what pre-existing immune challenges we will face, etc., etc. But we want what we can’t have so desperately! In these last few months, we just wanted some sense of power and control.

We spend our lives seeking-out (mostly unconsciously) ways to have control and power and/or ways to be controlled and empowered. The people who are most inclined toward and desirous of control, the “control freaks”, pursue life’s path, choices, and careers with this in mind. Again, at least they do that subconsciously.

I used to be one of those people. I changed my mind about 20 years ago. Now I make deliberate decisions to release people from control, guilt, judgment, and fear. Now instead of secretly wanting to control other people because of my own insecurity and fear, I want to influence folks to walk in as much freedom and independence as their heart desires.
Please do not look to me as an example. But feel free to look at the perspectives I hold dear. They are solid.

There is little doubt what mostly motivated people to respond to me and my early protestations about how the pandemic was being handled (and to do it the way they did). They (like most of us) are operating out of what comes naturally to humanity—to be negative and to seek some form of power and control. In this case, the subconscious attempt was to exert power and control over me, my emotions and my social media page. People fall into this power/control trap especially during times when we are feeling particularly out of control and powerless. Times like now.

Many of my critics were former campers of mine who are now grown men. They now had the opportunity to take a potshot at their old camp director, and they seized the moment. You see, I was once an authority to them at a very memorable place, camp. No matter how positively, benignly or well intentioned, I lorded and sometimes flaunted my authority over them at summer camp in my attempt at power and control. That was almost a quarter century ago.

The struggle for Power and Control (or as my oldest son Joe Klein refers to it: “PNC”) is very real and unfortunately present in almost every relationship dynamic. Whether it is romantic, friendships, professional or just people you encounter randomly, be aware of this ever-present human tendency to look for control and to be controlled for a sense of wellbeing, faulty though it be.

What to do about it? Stay logged on for the next G-Spot!

One Response

  1. I would agree with you on much of what you said, and I am curious to hear more about when you think power and control are necessary for protection and healthfully explored boundaries.?

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