Out of Control: The Psychology of Chickens and People

IMG_1453This is Crosby A. Tinkleton.  He is one of 6 chickens gallivanting around my yard.  Crosby is a rooster and a bully.

I would like to tell the other chickens to steer clear of Crosby.  To not let him do the things he does. To make Crosby go away when they want to eat in a particular spot or make him crow loud on a different part of the property.

The thing is, the other chickens can only control themselves.  They cannot control Crosby.  And I cannot control any of those chickens.

The same is true with people.  We can only control ourselves.  We can try and make others do what we want.  We can put in effort with manipulation or force.  Ultimately though, the only control we really have is over ourselves.

That can be a tough pill to swallow.  Whether our significant others, children, friends, family, our children’s friends/classmates, or their parents.  We may want our children to do exactly what we want.  We may want kids at school to treat them better or let them into a certain group.  We may want people to change.  Our spouse to be a particular way.  But we cannot control any of them.

The good news is if we only have ourselves to control then we can take some pressure off in having to make everyone into the person we want them to be.  We can open ourselves up to a sort of loving kindness about who they are and who we are.  We can also decide how we want to be in relation to them.

Let me give you an example.  Let’s say their is a parent who feels their child is being left out.  Left out at school, left out socially.  You can try and control the other children. Encourage them to them to include your child.  You could call the other parents and let them know your feelings and request they speak with their own child.  You could talk with the teacher about your concerns.  You can put in all your efforts until you’re exhausted.  The fact is though, you cannot make anyone do anything else.  It will be up to the children, their parents, and their teacher to decide if/what they are going to do help.

No matter what happens in that scenario, what we are left with is the question, “How do I want to be in relation to my child and this circumstance?”  Do I give a forum for them to voice their feelings without judgement?  Do I hold them close on my lap?  Do I offer to take my child and a friend they want to have to the movies Saturday?  Do I point out their strengths and validate how being an individual is awesome?  Do I play catch and show my love through my actions?

Only you can control what it is you decide to do.  If we can do it with patience and love, even better.

Those 5 other chickens in the yard are what appears to be patient with Mr. Tinkleton. I am sure somewhere there is a whole chicken psychology I am unaware of.  All I know is I cannot control those chickens.


The only thing I can control is myself.  I let go of expectations of how I want others to be.