by Dina Blas: Are you always on guard, super attentive, and always the person in your relationship who has to be in charge?
Is all this micromanaging causing lots of fights at home? Has your partner all of a sudden stopped participating in the relationship?
Sounds like you may be a control freak. Even though many of these behaviors may be wonderful and effective when you are on your own but they may not be suitable in a relationship with another person.
So, what does controlling behavior actually look like in real life? The following list is only a sample of how it can manifest in your behavior.
Controlling behavior may look like:
- Emotional manipulation (guilt, shame, etc.)
- Verbal abuse (yelling, harsh words, putting someone down)
- Perfectionism (wanting everything to be perfect – home, partner, career, etc.)
- Compulsive (trying and trying to get something right and therefore creating more stress and anxiety)
Do you recognize any of these behaviors in yourself? You are not a bad person if you did. Awareness is the first step to understanding your situation fully. The next step is understanding the “how” of it all.
How did you become so controlling?
It could be your way of coping with the anxiety that was created sometime ago in your life, possibly childhood. Take a look at these possible scenarios and see if any of them resonate with you.
- Loss of Control as a child: No one likes to feel helpless. If you experienced it at a younger age due to a death of parent or you had to deal with a narcissistic parent, it can make you want to take control of your adult life even more so you never have to feel like that again.
- To Feel Useful: Sometimes when you don’t feel good about yourself, you will insert yourself forcefully into a situation and take charge of it.
- To Be and Feel Superior: If you were made to feel inferior over and over, it’s very possible you would attempt to put down others in order to feel better than them. This is how bullies are made.
- To Never be Controlled Again: If you felt that others always tried to control you then you might become a control freak. This can present itself as being stubborn or uncaring. You refuse to hand over the reins to anyone.
- Fear of Being Hurt: When you have been hurt by someone you have loved in the past, you may start to control who enters your life and when. You may even go as far as not having any serious relationships because the fear of being hurt again is just too much to bear.
- To Prove Something: You may have been made to feel insignificant at some point in your life so now you try to control others to prove that you are worthy and strong.
How many of those felt true to you? It’s okay if many of them did. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t start thinking negatively or cursing yourself out. You are not a broken human being. You are a human being who has had some very stressful situations occur in your life and you are a survivor.
So, what can you do if you realize you are a control freak? First, take a deep breath. It is not the end of the world. Second, grab a pen and some paper and work through the following steps to help you let go of your need to dominate everything and everyone around you.
How to change your controlling behavior:
- Identify the controlling behaviors.
- Investigate the reasons and emotions behind why you behave that way.
- Read books about your discoveries.
- Identify what behaviors you can change on your own.
- Identify what behaviors you cannot change on your own. Seek out a professional therapist or counselor if needed.
- Find a support group.
Be gentle with yourself. Take your time and allow yourself the opportunity to express any feelings that may come up. All feelings are valid.
My hope is that by following these steps, you will give yourself the chance to change your controlling behavior and save your relationship. Love is always worth the time and effort.