Do you feel pressured to be and act perfect? Does the pressure of your responsibilities make you feel the need to control everything at all times? Do you feel like you’ve forgotten how to let go and relax? In this hectic world, the need to feel in control is a hole many people fall into. And, if you are that way, it is not your fault. Thankfully, there are ways to learn to let go and focus on growth.
How Does A Controlling Behavior Manifest?
People need to be able to have control over certain aspects of their life. Otherwise, you couldn’t plan and make sure your life is in order. No one is suggesting you suddenly start not caring about if you get fired or not, but maybe needing to be in charge of what your friends wear on a night out is a bit much. But where’s that fine line between being in control of your life and having a controlling behavior?
Research has shown that controlling behaviors are either genetic or environmental. You are either born with a heightened need to make sure everything goes exactly how you want it to go or you are raised like that. If your parents always took charge of your life and you were raised surrounded by strong language such as “you have to wear that shirt because I say so”, “you have to study at least five hours today.” Other similar statements, chances are you don’t know any better than replicating that behavior yourself.
Controlling behaviors often stem from anxiety or fear. When uncertainty is your biggest enemy, you want to do everything in your power to eliminate it from your life. But this action leads to more anxiety, severe self-criticism, troubled relationships, and wasted time and energy.
If you are not sure whether you have a controlling personality, here are some signs that you should look out for:
- Needing to know what will happen, when it’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen at all times.
- Over-planning and think there’s only one way of doing things
- Getting mad when things don’t go according to your plan
- Becoming critical of others and tend to boss them around
- Disliking change and surprises
- Having absurdly high standards
- Distrusting of others and their way of handling things
If you find that some or all of these apply to you, you might be a bit of a control freak. But that doesn’t mean you will be like that forever. There are ways to learn the art of letting go.
How To Achieve Change?
In this context, the best way to strive for change is through long-lasting growth and personal development. The concept of growth is believed to be the foundation of one’s way of being.
You get to know, express, and trust all aspects of your human experience through inner growth. It is often defined as the subjective experience of change in behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.
Personal growth is said to occur through a reflective process. People analyze their past and present and envision their future selves. To achieve change and growth, you must be ready to look inward and be analytical. You must set a goal you desire to reach; acknowledge your flaws and work towards fixing your flaws to be able to achieve that goal.
This process is often associated with a lifestyle change, with performing new activities and trying new approaches in life. It was found that change promotes happiness, mental strength, and emotional resilience.
Three Reasons Why You Should Stop Controlling Everything
The journey towards growth and change might seem antithetical with perfectionists and controlling mentalities, and, in many ways, it is. But that doesn’t mean controlling people can’t learn to relax and embark on the road of self-discovery.
1. Controlling Everything Can Make You Feel More Fearful
Whenever you feel like uncertainty is going to be the death of you, remember, it might all be in your head.
Most times people tend to be their own worst enemies. Perfectionists tend to overthink every little detail of their life, thus creating dark scenarios that will never come true in the real world. This leads to overwhelming fear, which in turn leads to stress, a constant state of anxiety and shuts you down.
When compelled by fear, you turn to fight or flight mode. You feel like you need to control everything around you, otherwise, you will get hurt. But that is just not the case. Even though all fear is legitimate, this type of fear is all in your head and you have the power to extinguish it.
The experts agree that controlling everything feeds your fear!
Clinical psychologist Robert Puff, Ph.D., suggests facing your fears head-on as the most effective strategy. If you can manage to logically understand why you are afraid, and embrace whatever consequences that fear might have, you will be freer.
Imagine being afraid of crowds. Logically, why are you afraid of that? Because you are afraid of not being able to escape. Why is that a bad thing? Because tragedy might strike and you might find yourself in a middle of a riot, let’s say. Okay, that isn’t good. But the likelihood of that happening is low. Moreover, you cannot stay inside your house all your life. No amount of Postmates is going to allow you to never go out in society. And can you control when there’s a riot? Obviously not. Instead, focus on the consequences. What is the worst that could happen? You might get robbed. Okay, that’s also bad. But is it as bad as you replaying worst-case scenarios in your head? Is it as bad as trying to control your every little step? Definitely not.
As you try to understand your fears and think logically, you will also be in a better state of mind for growth and change. Facing your fears means a change in your lifestyle, it means reflecting on who you are and why you feel what you feel. Through discovering yourself you will be able to learn to let go of the need for constant control.
Letting go and trying to go with the flow is going to prove that you are scared for no reason. Try going to the park without a planner in hand. Just go, walk around, sit on a bench, read. After all is said and done, you will be unharmed, relaxed and you will have understood that you don’t need to control everything.
The main struggle controlling people have is accepting that they are human, they are flawed and they will make mistakes sometimes.
By changing up your routine and striving for growth, you allow yourself some leeway in life. In trying new activities, you will learn that sometimes failure is normal and to be expected. You will make mistakes and be forced to learn how to deal with them.
Controlling behaviors don’t allow you to try some of the things you always wanted to do. How could you ever pick up a new hobby if you don’t allow yourself to do things that don’t have a direct and pragmatic benefit for your life?
Trying to control everything is not going to make mistakes and flaws disappear. It’s only going to make you frustrated and self-critical of yourself. Why lose sleep over trying to control the inevitable when you can change up your routine and embark on a new journey?
The best way to learn to let go is to force yourself to do something new, something you never thought you would do. Try something crazy, like skydiving. Learn a new language. This sort of change will make you accept who you are as a person and will leave room for growth.
3. Trying to Control Every Situation Can Hinder Your Relationships
People who are controlling to a fault tend to push people away because of their tendency to be judgmental and critical of every little decision others make.
Christi Garner, a cognitive-behavioral therapist, suggests that maintaining healthy relationships starts with yourself. She states that control should be seen as a coping mechanism for anxiety, a primal reaction to fear. Therefore, if you feel the need to be in control of how your relationships develop, chances are you are afraid of something going wrong.
But the people close to you feel this fear and they know you are trying to control how they act for your own benefit. Needless to say, people hate being controlled. Don’t be surprised if you find them slowly letting go of their relationships with you.
Change and growth are the only ways to make sure this won’t happen. If you want to keep your friends, family and loved ones close, try a different approach. Instead of always needing to manage when and where you meet up, give them the chance to organize. Instead of trying to change the way they act, acknowledge that you have no right over their lives and maybe you should be the one to change and become more accepting.
Why does it matter?
Controlling a relationship can mean you feel frustrated and disappointed in the people close to you. You might find yourself guilt-tripping them, or giving the silent treatment. You might feel jealous or anxious when they are with other people.
Find a support system if you feel this way, pinpoint your triggers and focus on change, either internal or external. Allow people to do the things you are so afraid of, like setting up a date or going out without you. Try to get to know new people yourself.
Change is essential for letting go and learning how to be a good friend or partner again.
Exerting excessive control over others can make people irrational. Sometimes, it’s not even about fear, you were just raised to be controlling. But this behavior is not doing you or others any favors.
Change and growth are the things you should focus on if you want to turn your life around and learn to let go of the tendency of controlling everything. Try reflecting on who you are, be rational, and try new things, and you will become less fearful, more accepting of who you are, and you will have better relationships. And, who knows, you might even find yourself leaving the house without a planner!