On a warm summer morning in 2008, I sat at the kitchen table my friend Carlie’s house with my eyes and ears firmly focused on the scrambled eggs in front of me. A few minutes later, once the meal was completely devoured, I lifted my head and tried to re-orientate myself to my surroundings. I noticed a copy of the Celestine Prophecy was sitting on the table beside me. In the spirit of small talk, I asked Carlie’s mother if she was reading this book. She raved about it and insisted that I take her copy home with me. “Just read it,” she said. “You might learn something,” she said.
I took her up on her offer and decided to give The Celestine Prophecy a whirl. It didn’t take long to discover that the book is based New Age spirituality, yet written under the guise of an adventure novel. Throughout the story, readers are reminded that nothing is a coincidence and that every chance occurrence has a greater meaning. Hence, I didn’t find the book, the book found me.
I have to admit that most of the book was forgettable. James Redfields’ rush to deliver his Very Serious spiritual ideas meant that the plot suffered and I found it hard to identify with all many of the characters.
However, over the past few years, I have read and re-read the Celestine Prophecy to understand and resolve conflicts with colleagues, ex-boyfriends, pedestrians and dentists. Why? Two words; control dramas.
Somewhere between the introduction and conclusion, the protagonist discovers four methods that people use to get the extra energy they think they need. These methods are called control dramas. According to the Celestine Prophecy, most humans lean towards one of four control dramas that include: the intimidator, the interrogator, the aloof and the poor me. The foundations of each control drama are set during childhood, as a result of family dynamics and the never-ending plight for attention.
First off the bat is the Intimidator. Funnily enough, Intimidators are the control drama most likely to be seen holding a baseball bat. They seize control of situations by giving orders and being inflexible. Intimidators are usually easy to spot and hard to ignore as they steal energy with threats. They can attack the self-esteem of their target by creating unwarranted guilt along with a sense of worthlessness and incompetence. When all else fails, Intimidators create fear by boasting of how they destroyed others in the past. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
Next, we have the Interrogator. If you’re lucky enough to come across an interrogator in the Real World, you’ll be faced with a set of probing questions. For example, “Who are you? How did you get here? Fruit Loops or Coco Pops? Briefs or boxers?” Less aggressive than their intimidating friends, Interrogators prefer to undermine their subject by acting skeptical and self-righteous. Interrogators try to steal your energy by finding a fault in you or your actions. If they do find something, god forbid, they can evoke a sense of consciousness that undermines self-esteem and encourages self-doubt.
The Poor Me control drama is more passive than its previous counterparts as it relies on manipulation, rather than aggression. As the name suggests, a Poor Me will prey on their target’s guilt, compassion or obligation by portraying themselves as the victims. Passive-aggression is not out of bounds when a Poor Me tries to manipulate the sympathies of their victim. The Poor Me steals energy from those around them by externalizing blame and seeking sympathy. In short, these guys will really pull on the ol’ heartstrings.
Last, but not least, is the Aloof control drama. People that fall within this control drama will act like they don’t want your attention; when in reality, your energy is exactly what they desire. We’ve all seen an Aloof walk through the door, plop their sorry ass down on the couch and sigh loudly, before declaring that ‘nothing’ is wrong.
In the Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield makes a point that everyone has a control drama. At some stage during childhood, we all developed methods of attracting a little extra attention from either adults or our peers. Rather than using control dramas for ridicule, they can help us understand each other. If you were planning on bullying your colleague for being a Poor Me then maybe you’re guilty of being an Intimidator? Hence, everyone is on an equal playing field.
Of course, the list is not exhaustive but control dramas are an interesting concept to bear in mind. Personally, I think that I exhibit characteristics of all four control dramas, depending on the day of the month and whether there is any peanut butter left in the pantry.