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wundayatta's avatar

How much of your personal autonomy have you ever voluntarily given away?

Asked by wundayatta (58377 points ) October 19th, 2011

I think that some people sometimes enjoy having others tell them what to do. Maybe they feel comfortable when they don’t have to make decisions for themselves. Maybe it reminds them of times in the past when they felt safe because their parents had all the control and made sure everything was taken care of. There could be any number of reasons why people might enjoy this.

Have you ever given up some of your autonomy voluntarily? What did you do? How did it make you feel? Why do you think you did it?

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19 Answers

Scooby's avatar

Some, maybe I’m not so much in the lime light these days & choose to take more of a back seat poison in some things voluntarily because some people need to be given enough rope to hang themselves, be taught a lesson, by their own actions & ignorance :-/

LuckyGuy's avatar

Only in the bedroom.

Give it a try. Jeez. I’m getting all tingly just thinking about it.

YoBob's avatar

Well, pretty much all of it in a certain sense.

It’s known as having a job. Bottom line is if one earns the income necessary to provide for the basic material necessities of life as an employee, the company one works for pretty much owns your behind.

jerv's avatar

Very little since I left the Navy.

@YoBob Not all jobs are like that. I have fairly free reign where I work.

YoBob's avatar

@jerv – Need a software engineer located in Austin?

(Ironically, you popped into my head this morning while I was thinking about building up my 3D CAD chops and the fabrication of custom parts)

thorninmud's avatar

Marriage certainly involves a hefty loss of autonomy. Spending decisions, leisure decisions, decorating decisions, career decisions, etc. all became matters for negotiation instead of simple declarations of intent. I can’t so much as say, “I’m running over to the Home Depot to get a role of masking tape” without triggering a discussion about what else that trip should involve, or the appropriateness of the timing. For bigger things, like upping and moving to pursue a better job, the negotiations are proportionately more involved.

I’m OK with this. There’s a degree of annoyance that comes with seeing what I thought would be simple and straight-forward get complicated and compromised. But that’s the price we pay for partnership. I look at it as good ego-abatement training.

There are some areas where I’ve relinquished almost all autonomy. My wife takes care of our family finances without much input from me at all. I know she’ll give it much more attention than I ever would, and it just frankly doesn’t interest me much. In other areas, I’ve insisted on full autonomy. My spiritual life is entirely mine to lead, and my wife understands and accepts that. She gets frustrated when, say, my being away on retreat throws a kink in this or that project, but she indulges me.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Not much.

If you count compromise with the wife and close friends then I give up some but it’s more of a strategic sacrifice as I’m always getting something I want out of it (new experience, knowing that I’m making them happy, keeping the peace, points for the next round, etc).

I give up political autonomy but that’s the nature of the beast as I’m not cut out for politics.

Beyond that, I’m my own boss, work only under my contract or acceptably negotiated terms, and we’re financially stable enough that I can turn down work when it doesn’t meet my requirements or I just don’t feel like taking it on.

At least when it comes to work, my wife is the opposite though, she likes the structure of being given specific tasks, though not told how to do them – that just annoys her. With her seniority that’s fairly unusual (the wanting to be tasked part), but she prefers to let directors do their thing and play the political games so that she can be free to do what she enjoys. In her case more autonomy = more varied responsibilities = less time focused on what she likes = less overall satisfaction.

JLeslie's avatar

When I worked full time I definitely had given up a significant amount of autonomy or control over my time. Certain jobs more than others. Now that I don’t work one of the great enjoyments is control over my time, even though I still do things at times I don’t necessarily want to do.

Being married, the biggest loss of autonomy is moving for my husband’s job. It’s not that I am dragged by the hair or anything, but I never would be living where I do if I were not married to him.

Overall, I want control over my life, but at times I don’t want to make some of the trivial decisions. Like where to eat for dinner, or which tourist attraction to visit if we can only see one. Either I have made enough decisions lately, and just don’t want to make another one. Or, sometimes I don’t want to be responsible for someone else’s happiness. It might appear that I don’t want the control, but if it involves another person it is more likely I don’t want the responsibility. If it is just me alone, I prefer people don’t decide for me.

cookieman's avatar

Very little unfortunately.

At work, I’m the head of my department with only three employees. I report directly to owner who is basically too busy to bother with me. He tells me, “I trust you, I’m sure it’ll be great”. Even if I leave certain projects on his desk for approval, he may or may not return them to me with notes in time to make the deadline. I’m really autonomous here.

Where I teach, I’m an adjunct with a very trusting department chair. Maybe it’s because I have over ten years teaching, or maybe because I was a department chair at one point – but I basically turn in all my syllabi, projects, etc. in advance of the coming semester for approval, and then never hear from her again until right before the next semester. So long as my students are happy and I turn in my attendance and grades on time, nobody bothers me.

At home, my wife has an extremely stressful job, is a slob, and finances put her into a tailspin. She is a great mother to our daughter, loves to cook and shop for the house, takes care of her elderly parents and will straighten up the house if we’re having company. Beyond that, she says, “It’s all yours – I trust you.”

So in most instances in my life, I feel like I’m the beginning, middle and end of most projects and decisions. I certainly have help, but I am the decision maker.

When I was younger I loved this state of being as I can be a control freak, have a ton of stamina, and am all about attention to detail. Now that I’m pushing 40, I’ve been feeling this overwhelming need to hand it all to someone else. To have someone else take care of me for a change.

Problem is… A) I’ve created this monster so everyone involved expects me to be this person and looks to me for decisions or to get things done and B) There’s no one to hand it all to. There is no one to take care of me. It’s basically a fantasy.

picante's avatar

Mine varies a great deal and has so throughout my life. With my career, I’ve actually acquired far more autonomy over time. Ironically, now that I am in the most senior position at my company, one of my primary roles is mentoring and leading others into leadership positions, which actually means that my job is to hand over more responsibility to others. But it is my freedom to do that when/where I desire that really leaves the autonomy in my court.

As others have noted, personal relationships are very much about handing over autonomy in the interest of sharing a life. I think when one feels unfairly stripped of some autonomy, there are issues that arise. In my home, we’ve recently acquired my aged, infirm MIL along with some daily caretakers. I feel I’ve surrendered a great deal of autonomy there. It’s actually played into a cycle of depression that I’m trying to crawl out of currently.

Autonomy is critically important to me.

Coloma's avatar

In my marriage, never again!

Londongirl's avatar

Well, when I was young I always let others to make decisions for me. But once I have gained my in-dependency, I start to think and act on my own feet but I do like to have other people tell me their thinking though.

Sunny2's avatar

Probably 75%, when I got married. I took back 25% more when my kids went to college. Now I have 75% and climbing. I often sought the easy way our and let my spouse be the reason I didn’t make decisions. Pure laziness.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’m definitely not like this. My childhood was never secure or stable and I pined for the day to be independent in order to take care of myself how I thought I deserved. This has carried over into my relationships to where is someone wanted to impose their will over mine, they had to be pretty damn sharp and capable to get past my self preserving defenses.

There has only been once where a person wanted to do “what’s best for me” and for me to defer to them- it was a sociopath and I got away. If I defer to anyone, it’s because I believe they know better than me for some thing or another and because they treat me with respect. Me being badgered and intimidated only brings out my paranoia and flight response.

Blackberry's avatar

Giving it up is kind of a part of the job, being in the military. I don’t like it, but I’ve been in so long it has created almost a slave mentality in my mind in the sense that I don’t want to but I have no choice, if that makes sense.

bkcunningham's avatar

I thought you said anatomy. I thought, hmm, I’ve had my gallbladder removed…but…wait, that wasn’t voluntary. Well, sortof. Then I reread the question.

Londongirl's avatar

But then again, I wouldn’t mind to have my guy to take charge if I agree with him… :)

linguaphile's avatar

I was fiercely independent when i was really young, but I grew up without much autonomy—my mom enmeshed herself with me and there was very little that I did that she saw as separate from herself. In some ways, it gave me more support and attention than most kids had, but I also questioned any thought I had that didn’t align with hers. Looking back, I understand that my mom wanted love so badly that she seemed to have a need to control it to have it.

As an adult, I learned how to own my own autonomy—sometimes I fall back into a pattern of not saying anything when my autonomy is taken away, but my innate independence usually comes back pretty quickly.

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