To control yourself, first control others?


Don’t be alarmed at what you see
You yourself are just the same as what you see in me
Genesis – The Colony of Slippermen

To recognize a failing in yourself, and be sure you’re not just a victim of gaslighting, it helps to see it in others – and to observe how it works in others.

But in order to see a failing in others, and be sure you’re not just being judgmental, you need a reality check: success at predicting and/or controlling those others. This is what the victim of gaslighting lacks.

At any rate, to see your own failing is not enough. You also need to know what to do about it. It’s no help at all to say “repent, sinner!” without any specifics as to how to go about it. That kind of knowledge is in practice inseparable from the ability to influence others with the same failing. Learn to control others in order to learn to control oneself.

Two other things are needed: the will to self awareness and the will to overcome sins. This is what the tyrant lacks. This may be how tyrants fall.

In all things, to grow you need valid insight, and there is no valid insight absent a reality check. To know that you have power over the actions and thoughts of others – that is proof that you understand. And in order to know you in fact know how to control others, you must actually control others. What works is what’s true.

Can’t you just skip the controlling of others and work straight on yourself, trying to change your own ways? That certainly feels moral, more respectful, more humble. But it doesn’t work. I’ve tried it. So have others, and I’ve watched them fail.

You need to see it from the outside. Objectivity. Self awareness can’t be approached directly. To see yourself, you need a mirror. And the mirror is a thing outside of yourself. You must seek out others who share your failings and observe them closely, as proxies for yourself. (No, not to discover your failings. The collective blind spot will prevent that. After you’ve discovered your failings, then seek these people out.) But observing is only the beginning. You must also experiment on them, probing their reactions to stimuli, to see below the surface.

But now I am a manipulative and domineering person! Exactly the sort of person I hate! I don’t want to be that! Well, you don’t have to keep doing it. Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can, then stop. At this point you have the insight and the proof you need. And the alternative is to go on as a flawed human being, knowing that you are flawed but unwilling to do what it takes to rise above. Don’t be so fearful of becoming a scoundrel that you won’t even head in that general direction. A successful scoundrel lives in the general vicinity of pragmatism. He does what works. But what he does is not necessarily the only thing that works. You must try to live in that neighborhood, perhaps on the same street, but at a different street address. It’s either that, or the slums of the failures.

But surely there’a a better alternative? What if you can find someone who once had your failing and who overcame it? You can perhaps learn from his success – if he’s willing to teach you. But that’s not realistic. Overcomers are few and far between, and most of those willing to teach are either frauds or deluded.

Don’t be an actual scoundrel, but be something resembling a scoundrel. Be willing to be called a scoundrel by the losers, even if you do them no concrete harm at all. And if the actual scoundrels hate you in the same way, rejoice. At every level, we resent (envy) those above us and despise or pity those below us. If you resent no one, but everyone resents you, you are at the topmost level.

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