Updated: Oct 12, 2020
When you hear statements like this, do you automatically assume that the person who is controlling is dictating in an aggressive fashion that someone can’t leave the house or talk to a specific person?
You’re not wrong. That would certainly be a scenario that shows us one individuals level of control over another, but control isn’t always going to manifest in this exact way. To control someone or seek control means to have (or desire to have) influence over someone elses behavior or a course of events. Sometimes we control others or seek out control without even realizing it.
If there’s anything I want to do in this world, it’s help others to heal. And in order to heal, we must assume accountability for our own actions and beliefs, while understanding how those actions and beliefs effect not only others, but ourselves.
A need for control has an incredibly negative effect on our wellbeing whether that’s controlling others or trying to control certain aspects of your life. Now, before you read on – I want you to know that even though some parts of what I have to say may sound like I’m yelling at you – I’m not, I promise! You know I love you and am here to help you live your best life. Sometimes that comes with being a teensie bit blunt.
We have this really silly idea in our head that by controlling something, we can force it to work out in our favor or we can force the outcome to be the one that we determine, whether or not any others involved are happy or okay with the orders we’re spouting.
I get it – we do it as a defense mechanism to protect our own happiness. And when I say I get it , I mean I really get it – I used to be the Queen Control Freak. I had such a choke hold on everything and every one in my life (or a perceived one, I should say) that the MOMENT anyone or anything stepped out of line, I freaked.
I had terrible anxiety, anger, resentment … and I lived that way. For YEARS because these people and these situations were not fitting into the reality I so desperately wanted for myself.
But that’s the thing. The reality I wanted for myself and the reality that WAS … meaning, the ACTUAL reality … were not one in the same – no matter HOW hard I tried to make it that way.
If I wanted my relationship to be perfect, then he was going to need to act a certain way, have certain behaviors, beliefs, even extracurriculars to meet MY needs.
If I wanted to live peacefully, I needed everyone in my family to go to the doctor, to eat right, drink right, get exercise, stay healthy, stay mindful, drive safely, do this, do that, so that they were okay and therefore, I was okay.
If I wanted to be happy at my job, I needed my boss to give me a raise, my workload to lighten up; I needed everyone to stop being lazy a**holes and start working more so I had to work less and stop carrying their weight, but I also needed them to start behaving in a way that worked for me.
You. Will. Behave. As. I. Command.
Then one day, I woke up and had to ask myself a very important and thought provoking question.
"Who the F*&K do I think I am?”
Who the fu*& did I think I was?
“Oh, okay, Brittany. So you’re saying that because YOU want everyone to behave how YOU want them to, that that’s the end all, be all demand?” Oh, but I did. I truly did. Without realizing it though. That’s the tricky part about this control thing, is we DON’T EVEN REALIZE WE ARE DOING IT.
I see it all the time with my clients in relationships now.
“If he would just stop playing video games, everything would be great.”
“If she would just learn to relax and trust me, it would be different.”
“If they could just stop and … . “
If they could just stop and what? Change who they are as a person?
For what … for YOU?
I hate to be blunt. But that’s the truth of the matter.
We want our significant others to change who they are – to change the things that they enjoy, to change their methods of BEING because who they are does not suit us. You’re darn right who they are does not suit you. I repeat: Who. They. Are. Does. Not. Suit. You. AKA Who. They. Are. Is. Not. Who. You Want.
I’m not talking about someone who has a drinking problem and needs help. I’m not talking about someone who does drugs and needs help and you’d like for them to heal – that’s different. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, is it? If you don’t want to “deal” with someone who has a drinking problem or a mental illness or who enjoys video games, then why are you with them? That’s who they are.
I have news for you – you don’t want to be. You want to be with YOUR VERSION of them.
People are not refurbishing art projects. You don’t purchase a person like you do an old bureau at a tag sale and re-do it to the way you like it. You either like it the way it is, at the core, or you don’t. There’s no in between. You don’t buy furniture or a house you “SORT OF” like and hope that one day it grows on you – that’s one hell of an investment. Well, so are people. But people cannot be controlled the way that house decorations can, my friend, nor do they deserve to be.
While we are trying to control our SOs (or family members) behaviors – we are harming ourselves, causing ourselves anxiety and anger (because someone won’t behave the way WE want them to … ) but we’re also harming them. The anxiety some people live with because they aren’t meeting our expectations of control is extremely harmful – and I see it regularly with some of my clients who are being controlled by their wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc.
So stop and ask yourself for a moment – are you living in relationships that you’re trying to control?
(Example: I see this one a lot. For some reason, people hate when their SO plays video games. Like – they want to STOP them from playing all together even though it’s something they enjoy doing. What if your SO wanted you to STOP writing or STOP meditating or STOP hanging out with your friends? It’s a part of you. It’s a part of who you are and what you enjoy – so why is this an issue and why are you trying to control it? P.S. there’s a huge difference between “they sat and played for 14 hours straight and did nothing else around the house that was a mess” versus “they play every few nights with their friends for some R&R and enjoyment in their life.”)
That energy in a relationship carries out to other types of relationships, too. Family, friends, co-workers. We want people to literally BE DIFFERENT. It doesn’t work that way. And you trying to fight it every step of the way is literally only causing you anxiety and severe stress for an outcome that IS NOT going to turn out in your favor. People are not SIMS. You can’t play them like a game and choose when they eat, sleep, talk, laugh, dance, or what they say. Nor can you make them work more or do more or think different or be literally this fantasy version of them that you have in your head. It doesn’t work like that, nor will it ever. The sooner you learn to let go of the need to want to control someone else, the sooner you will be living a much happier and healthier life.
(DISCLAIMER: This is NOT the same thing as just dealing with people who are abusive or toxic in your life. This is about recognizing that those people are who they are as well, and sure, you can accept them for who they are and where they are at in their life- but ACCEPTING does NOT mean keeping them in your life. If someone is abusive and/or harming you in any way, please note you cannot control them either, but you CAN control whether or not you leave and remove yourself from the situation and you CAN control whether or not you seek out help or tell someone … which you should.)
We tend to want to control situations as well. Let’s refer back to my example of being at work and wanting to change my entire work environment. “If they would just … “ and “if the work would just … “ just what? If your co-workers would just change their personality? Change their entire work ethic? Chew quieter? Tell me how exactly you plan to control that and make that happen. You can’t. Plain and simple. And I know it sucks, but this is the reality.
So while we’re over here trying to fit all of these square pegs into round holes to try and suit our own needs, there are a million other things that could be happening that we CAN control to improve our lives.
You CAN control whether or not you stay with the person you are with. You CAN control whether or not you stay at the job you hate and find a new job. You CAN control YOUR actions and beliefs (you can control whether or not you want to explore your own beliefs and change the ones that no longer work for you). You CAN control your health journey, spiritual journey and wellness journey. You CAN control the moves you make based on the reality you are facing without having to control everyone around you. You can shape your future and create the reality that you are happiest in by letting go of the need to control others and situations, and learn to make decisions based on the people and situations that surround you. You DO have control over that.
I know that some of this is a tough pill to swallow because we want to believe we have more control than we do. And in a sense, you do have control over your own personal life but you need to remember that your own personal life does not mean the lives of others. Just because they’re in your life doesn’t mean you get to control them. You can control how you accept them, how you understand them and whether or not you keep them in your life. But it doesn’t go much farther than that. Anything else is on you; meaning if you’re with them and you’re miserable (or you’re in a situation and you’re miserable) and you can’t control them (because you can’t) and you stay – that is on you.
I think of it this way: I can’t control the weather, but I can control how I dress for it. How I navigate this will determine if I end up comfortable or not. But it’s up to me. If I go out in this god forsaken heat in a 50 lb faux fur coat and get heat stroke, it’s not the damn weathers fault.
To truly be in control of your life, means to let go of the control you don’t actually have and put energy into where you do.
Like I said at the beginning, it may seem like I’m coming out you pretty hard – but I do it with love. My posts are to help you on your healing journey with self-reflection, awareness and the ability to make change with new understanding. It’s up to you what you do with it and how much of it you want to adopt into your life because I have no control over what you take from my sessions and blogs – only you do. Yes, releasing these binds of control can be difficult, but boy will they be freeing.