Why do we like to feel in control? Why do we continue to rely on supernatural things, like deities, instead of ditching those beliefs for reality? This book, Kidding Ourselves, by Joseph T. Hallinan, discusses these subjects about deceiving ourselves. Can it be helpful, or will it just make one look silly?
First of all, I’m going to say that nobody likes reality the way it is presented to us — a hard, cold world with little comfort unless you happen to have the “smarts”. That’s honestly why I read books and look for other entertainment like TV shows. For a while, you’ll be happy. (Um, I don’t know about you but I do get depressed a lot, though I don’t ever realize it; most of the time I just shut off any feelings whenever I’m in deep thought or working. It just kind of happens.) But then it’s over, and any stress you have comes back immediately and hits you hard, including your health. So what can you do to stop that? Make ourselves feel like we’re in control. I’m not sure how, but I’m pretty sure why: it’s our perception of things, like some believe God comforts them and you should cast all your cares upon him, which will actually relieve you of a lot of stress. I know this for sure since I used to be a Christian, and in fact did this.
Concerning health, feeling in control of your life also has to do with knowledge.
“…The more control we feel we have, the better off we are—not just psychologically, but physiologically. Showing patients a ten-minute video before they undergo a painful medical procedure such as a colonoscopy, for instance, can reduce anxiety and even lead to short recovery time… Knowledge is power. Knowing what to expect affords us some degree of control over the situation we face; we can brace for it. And as long as we believe we have some control over the situation, it becomes more tolerable, and in the process we become more powerful. We become, in a sense, masters of our own little universe. And that sense of mastery pays very real dividends.” (p. 119)
As I read, though, I realized that there are only so many examples you can give about things before it’s more like a guess, not a solid answer. Hallinan begins to compare powerful people who feel in control more, like bosses, but also tend to ignore “powerless” employees in this case. I really don’t feel like there’s no in-between between the powerful and the powerless, but he seems to make sure that he expresses that there is according to research like this:
“Behavioral research has shown that in meetings, parties, and other group settings, powerful people tend not only to talk more often than other people do, they are also more likely to speak their minds. Whereas relatively powerless people tend to feign agreement, powerful people are inclining to express their true attitudes and opinions—regardless of the consequences. They act, in short, like their true selves.” (p. 153)
I may not be particularly powerless, but I’m not powerful either. I don’t talk that much around a lot of people I’m not comfortable with, so that’s probably right. I do not suddenly agree with another because I’m too scared to speak up. If I disagree with you and I believe it to be a major concern, I will speak up and make sure you understand why you are wrong. But most of the time, they end up rattling on after you’ve made your point and they ignore you. (Then you walk away and they want to start a fight. Happens in my life a lot.) Regardless of the consequences, I will somehow show my opinion and make sure you’ve noted it. I did not used to be this way, though, because I was brainwashed into believing that somehow women were inferior to men; and if a man said something then I agreed or stayed silent, unless it had to do with my religion.
Kidding Ourselves was okay. I wouldn’t say it’s great, but I love the idea the book was made from.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.