Recognize that Fear Drives the “Control Freak Bus”
Are you a control freak? If you are, you’ll relate to this: “I’m not really a control freak . . . but can I show you the right way to do that?”
You mean well. You really do. You genuinely want to help people. And maybe you do know the “best” way. But unless you’re dealing with your own young child, it’s not in either your or their best interest to try to control anyone and their choices.
Even though you may be the most efficient, skilled, knowledgeable or smartest person in the room . . . unless someone specifically asks for your advice or help, it’s best to zip it and butt out. People don’t like to be controlled. Consistently manipulating someone is a surefire way to deteriorate your relationship with them. Eventually, they will push back, rebel or retaliate.
Here are a few tips to help release the control freak in you and find peace. Those around you will be grateful for the shift.
Discover Which Fear Is Behind Your Urge to Control Others
It’s likely that you don’t feel the urge to control every aspect of your life–just certain scenarios or people. Feeling the need to control has a lot to do with your belief systems and insecurities. Do a little investigating. Pay attention to what triggers you and why. Do you try to manipulate your overweight adult daughter into losing weight because you’re afraid she’ll never find a partner? Do you tend to micromanage coworkers because you’re a perfectionist with high expectations? Because you had a chaotic childhood, do you try to control your life as much as possible? Do you want everything done your way?
It’s easier to get wrapped up in fear and control when you have an emotional attachment. You want to keep loved ones from making painful “mistakes.” That’s understandable.
Bu you’ve likely forgotten the bigger picture: We are all souls growing at different rates in various ways. You grow through experience. Often the really painful experiences are the ones you learn the most from and make the biggest leaps in growth.
You learn experientially. That’s why you’re currently embodied in physical form on this free-will planet. Earth offers limitless opportunities to explore, experience . . . and grow. As a soul, your goal is growth. Sure, there are “better” choices, but you don’t make “mistakes.” Everything serves a purpose.
Release your urge to control others and allow them opportunities to do their own “homework” and advance in mastery. What will they learn from their choices? Who knows, maybe certain people are deliberately in your life because this lifetime is about finally getting your “Ph.D” in Acceptance.
Identify Your Manipulative Tricks
Sometimes you may not even be aware that you’re being manipulative. Increase your consciousness about how you manipulate. Maybe you’re passive aggressive. Using guilt is popular, especially in certain religions and cultures. Guilt may be secondhand nature to you. Instead, retrain your mind and take a different course of action.
You need awareness, strategies for redirecting your thoughts and actions, and making a few paradigm shifts. And, like learning any new skill, practice, practice, practice.
Shift from “Primary Control” into “Secondary Control”
There are different types of control. There’s “primary control,” which involves consciously controlling your surroundings to fit your desires and goals. Examples are controlling where you shop and what you buy, who you engage with socially, and what type of car you drive.
“Accept the situation for exactly what it is instead of trying to manipulate it into what you think it needs to be.” —Mandy Hale
The other type of control is “secondary control,” which is sometimes referred to as making lemonade out of lemons—adapting to things that you can’t control. Secondary control means adopting a glass half-full mentality, making the best of a situation by finding the silver lining. It’s about controlling your attitude towards the event rather controlling the event itself.
To sum it up, primary control is changing circumstances to fit your desires, while secondary control is changing your attitude to fit the circumstances.
Give Up Control Over One Small Area of Your Life
It usually helps to start small. Relinquish control in one small aspect of your life. Maybe you’ll let others decide which restaurant to dine at. Maybe you’ll let your partner clean the kitchen dishes in the time and manner of their preference. Maybe you’ll follow your intuition rather than stick to your normal routine on your day off.
Let life naturally unfold, rather than trying to control all aspects to it. You’ll likely discover that when you loosen your controlling grip, it’s rewarding, enjoyable and feels better.
Accept What Life Deliberately Brings to You
In 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” To a large extent, that’s still true today. Complete control and certainty can never be achieved, so you can never fully relax. It’s wise to accept that uncertainty is a normal part of life. That can be a tough one for control freaks who like life’s “spreadsheet” completely filled in and all boxes checked off.
But no matter how much you plan and try to avoid the unknown, life will still throw you curveballs. Go ahead and plan, but be flexible and learn to roll with the punches. Sometimes those dreaded curveballs turn out to be blessings.
Life will deliberately bring what you need for your soul’s growth. Rather than resisting, ask yourself, Why is this here on my path? How is it here to help me grow? Hint: Whatever you have a fear about will likely show up at some point as opportunities to help you grow beyond your mind’s attachments or aversions.
Avoid Giving Unsolicited Advice
Giving people uninvited suggestions and recommendations is another control tactic. It may seem perfectly reasonable to you but consistently offering unsolicited advice becomes unwelcome. You might become known as a bit of a know-it-all. It could cost you friendships and alienate coworkers.
Don’t expect perfection in others. Let them be who they are . . . without judgment. It’s easier to see things more clearly when you’re not emotionally attached to people and their choices. It may be obvious to you that your coworker’s latest boyfriend is bad news but unless she asks for your opinion, keep your thoughts to yourself. Again, it’s a learning opportunity for her. Maybe even a “Whopportunity!” He’s in her life for a reason. As painful as it may be, let her experience and grow from it as her soul intended. Remember, nobody is “broken” or needs to be “fixed.”
Change the Control Freak with Persistent Action
Control freaks are often their own greatest enemies. You can squelch the control freak in you and release the emotions that cause those tendencies.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, practice, tenacity . . . and patience. The peace of mind it brings you is priceless.