Cornered Animals

Autonomy is basically the ability to make decisions about your daily life.  Those with the most autonomy report the most satisfaction in their lives.  As humans we crave control.  We need it.  We go a little crazy without it.  There have been medical studies about autonomy- patients that control the lighting in their hospital rooms heal faster than those who don't.  It's why office workers have cubicles rather than desks in open rooms- even the illusion of autonomy makes for more productive workers. 

Think of all the bosses you've ever had.  I'd bet that the ones you disliked the most weren't the ones that were the most demanding in general, but instead the ones that were the most demanding about stupid shit.  "Don't put the paper clips there." "Never blue pens, ONLY BLACK."  And a million other nit-picky things that you still don't understand why they mattered.  That's just it though, they didn't matter.  That boss of yours was on a power trip.  They were taking your autonomy on purpose in order to make you feel small and inconsequential.

Having limited options isn't just something that happens at the hands of other people.  It can also be situational.  It's that story you hear about the older person who has to decide whether to eat or buy their medications that month.  That granny doesn't have any autonomy.

We recognize on some deep level that we can't control the biggest things- the weather, accidents, other people....  But even though we know we can't, we still try.  We try to bend all sorts of things to our will and it almost never works.

Do you know what happens to people that have no autonomy?  To those that have no control over the most basic things in their daily lives?

They get frustrated.  They rail against whatever institution/situation that is restricting their autonomy.  They get more frustrated.  And then they either get louder in their protests or they give up.  Bringing people to that edge is dangerous.  They become unpredictable and vulnerable.  They're like cornered animals.  Are they going to use their claws and teeth and fight back or are they going to give up and give in to the will of the gods/the hands of fate/whatever?

We must remember that we're not cornered animals.  We're not small and inconsequential.  We have other tools at our disposal besides our claws and teeth.  We need to work smarter and not harder.  We need to know that it's okay to ask for help. 

Right now, today, find something that you bitch and moan about that you can change and and actually try change it.  It's okay if it's a little thing, little things build up into big things.  Don't mention it to anyone, it won't matter to them anyway.  Just know that today you made a choice and used your autonomy to beat back your own frustration with something positive.  

That's a good beginning.


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