“The attempt to steer a person can make it hard for them to move, because it inactivates their own guidance system.”

I found this lovely quote off of an Instagram account called 1.spiritual. I enjoyed it so much that I made it my quote for the week. It also inspired me to write this little blog.

In this context, I think the word “steer” can be defined as one of the following:

  • A person controlling the movement of . . .
  • Follow in a specified direction

To me, this quote is referring to “steer” in the context of control. This quote advises people not to control others because it hinders the intuition of the person being controlled. It also could veer the person being controlled off the path they were meant to take in life.

Basically, controlling another person is not the way to go.

Whether we are aware of it or not, what we say and do can affect others in a positive or negative manner. When we exert control over another person, we are not helping them. We are crippling them. We are hindering their personal growth and progress.

And why are we exerting control? Is it really to help them? Or is it for more selfish reasons such as to feel superior or to feel some sort of value and worth?

While this may not be the case for everyone, I’ve personally noticed that those who feel the need to exert huge amounts of control on others do so because they feel they have NO control. Weird, right? It coincidences with a previous post I did regarding people who judge. Those who judge others are the ones who tend to feel the most insecure about themselves. Like those who bully do so because of an insecurity of some kind. The same can be said for those who try to control others. Those who try to control feel powerless over their life or their mortality or whatever the case, so they try to regain their power by controlling another person’s actions. Some have had terrible childhoods where they felt powerless, so they try to (incorrectly) heal their childhood scars (regain their power) by controlling others. For some, it’s not to heal their scars, but they believe deep down that if they do not control others, then others will control them. It understandable to have that mindset, especially if they grew up in a dog eat dog world where survival wasn’t guaranteed.

This doesn’t excuse their controlling demeanor and it doesn’t mean you should subject yourself to a person who is dominating your life. You may love this person, but you also have to love yourself enough not to subject yourself to inappropriate treatment. I’m merely mentioning where the person controlling may be coming from because, sometimes, the actions someone takes on us have nothing to do with us. For the person controlling, they need a person to control and it happens to be you. If they weren’t trying to control you, they would be trying to control someone else. While it feels very personalized, it may not be. You are not the problem. You do not deserve to be controlled.

While controlling is harmful, this does not mean that you can’t help others. I made a point to define what I think “steer” means in this quote because there are other versions of the definition “steer” that I do like:

  • A person guides the movement . . .
  • A piece of advice or information concerning the development of a situation

There is nothing wrong with helping and guiding people along their paths in life. Goodness knows I have had many wonderful people who have helped me along my journey. Their wisdom and their personal experiences helped shape me into the person I am today. It has helped me become a better person as well as a better doctor.

Some of their advice, I took and integrated it into my journey. Some of their advice did not resonate with me and I did not use it. That, I feel, is the key difference between guiding and controlling. Guiding takes into account my free will to decide how I will respond. With guiding, I can decide not to take the person’s advice and there are no hard feelings. I can decide to do something completely different and/or listen to someone else’s advice and the person doesn’t take it personally. The person doesn’t feel powerless or insecure that I did not follow their advice. They could have given me excellent advice and it just happens not to work with the path I’ve chosen to take. Even when I don’t follow a person’s advice, I do store it in my mind to pass along to others who may be in the same predicament because for that person the advice may be beneficial. I can also go along and make a decision without asking for advice and the person respects my choice. I can listen to my gut instinct and decide to follow my intuition and there are no hard feelings.

When a person controls instead of guides, there is no other way to do things. There is only one way, the “right way” this person had decided is such. This person takes it very personal if a person does not follow their advice. They have a “right way” to do everything and will force their viewpoint on a person. They want the person to listen to them over the person’s gut instinct. They believe they are always right. There are consequences if their advice is not taken. Though the person needing control may never admit it, by not following their advice it makes them feel powerless or insecure. It makes them question whether they were “right” with choices they’ve made. Do you get overwhelmingly angry or upset or hurt if someone doesn’t follow your advice? Do you feel the need to lash out or hurt them if they don’t listen? Do you feel your way is the only way and doing it any other way is vehemently wrong? If you resonate with these, I recommend you talk to a professional about your feelings and find healthy ways to address these feelings of powerlessness or insecurity you may have. They can also help you find ways to address this need to control. Your feelings are valid, but they may not be an accurate depiction of the world. Exerting dominance on your loved ones hurts them. It hurts your relationship with them.

There is not one “right” way to do things. There is not only one path a person can take. Someone can do things very differently from you and both of you still be correct. After all, 2 + 2 = 4, but 3 + 1 = 4 and 8 – 4 = 4 and so on and so forth. There are multiple ways to get to the same solution. There are multiple paths you can take to get to the same destination.

I have to admit that this quote is very personal for me. I have been in a situation where a person was severely controlling over my actions and words. Everything I did and said was held under scrutiny to the point where I questioned every action I took. To say my internal guidance system was inactivated seems too casual compared to how I felt. I felt like my intuition had been crushed into a thousand pieces and left to scatter in the wind. I had to admit that the relationship was unhealthy and I made the decision to leave. It was difficult, but I had to love myself enough to walk away. I’ll never forget the first time I sent an email after getting away from this person. I was a nervous wreck, questioning every word I wrote and every sentence I formed. When I realized how severely I was critiquing myself to write a basic three sentence email, I broke down. I had relinquished so much control that I had forgotten how to trust myself. I didn’t trust myself to write a simple email.

Now, I realize that this quote does hold true. My intuition wasn’t shattered, but it was deactivated. I have thankfully been able to reengage my internal guidance system. It was an interesting and long process that took hard work and blunt honesty, but it’s been worth it.

At the end of the day, this is your life. You have the opportunity to chose what you do with your life. Remember, doing nothing is still an active decision.