I am a control freak - and I don’t just mean I like things to be just so, I mean I feel the need to control EVERYTHING and that everything has to be done a certain way. It’s either done my way (correctly) or it’s wrong. Now, this is obviously not the case. I know it’s an issue but I’ve kinda just assumed it’s the way I am and it’s fine. That was until I came across an article about being controlling in a relationship and I realised that I needed to address these controlling behaviours.
How I Came to Realise I have a Problem
I cannot remember where I read the article on control, but the thing that struck a chord with me the most was that, partners of controlling people become too scared to do things on their own. This can make them appear to be dependent and unable to think for themselves. I then realised that is exactly what has started happening at home. Poor Matthew doesn’t dare do anything around the house, not because he is lazy, but because he is worried, he will get it ‘wrong’ and an argument will ensue. This sort of behaviour will result in an imbalance in the relationship where the other person will stop thinking for themselves entirely which is also exhausting for me as I am left making all the decisions. I don’t want to be this controlling so I am trying to be more aware of my actions and words! For me, I can often be left feeling hurt as Matthew might now show me the appreciation, I believe I deserve for doing so much around the house (luckily, he likes it and I get gifts!) but my point is, this sort of control in a relationship can hurt both parties involved.
'When you try to control everything, you enjoy nothing. Sometimes you just need to relax, breathe, let go
and live in the moment'
When did I become so Controlling?
I honestly think that this behaviour stems from my childhood, I mean doesn't everything? After my mum and dad split up, I felt like I was being pulled from pillar to post, I never truly felt like I knew where I would be, who would be picking me up from school or what was actually happening. I had to take on a lot more responsibility, even though it wasn’t necessarily expected, I felt a pressure to grow up and help more around the house and look after myself a lot more than perhaps other children that age had to. Everything was out of my control and I didn’t like the uncertainty and the not knowing. As I got older, I realised that if I took control of situations, I felt safe. I felt safe knowing that I was in ‘control’ of what happened each day, I had to plan ahead for everything and lost a lot of spontaneity in my life. I also learnt that if I was in control of everything then I was a lot less likely to be let down and left feeling disappointed. In reality, all this did was make me feel worse when things did not go to plan and because it was my plan, I blamed myself and I was/am harsh with myself.
The reality is that you can never be fully in control of life - things happen every single day that you cannot plan for and if you try to plan everything you miss out on a lot! I am slowly learning that if I let go and take a step back, that things will happen for me and these things could be beautiful. I need to let go and just let life happen.
How Can We Stop Trying to Control Everything?
Food those that are happy to go with the flow of life, it’s easy to say things like ‘just let go’ and ‘don’t worry so much’, ‘lighten up’. It would be nice if it was that simple! These behaviours can become so embedded that we need to require our brains to break this cycle. Here are some simple things you can start applying to your daily life to help let go of some of that control so that you can embrace life and move through it with ease and lightness.
Understand why you want to be in control - what are you afraid of?
Start small - leave the dishes if you are someone that washes up immediately after eating, allow your desk to be messy if you are a neat freak, allow others to complete tasks around the house that you would not normally allow them to do.
Allow space in your life for surprises - stop planning every day from start to finish, plan for, let’s say, half the day. Don’t say no to every event you are invited to because you think you are already ‘busy’ because it doesn’t fit in with your plan, allow surprises to happen, allow life to flow.
Let go of, or manage your expectations and surrender - the more expectations you have the more likely you are to be disappointed. Life has a natural flow to it, you need to allow yourself to go with the flow and just ride the waves of life (that sounds cheesy!), try to work with the flow of life and not against it.
Be willing to change - for control freaks, the thought of changing others is much easier than looking to change your own ways! You have to want to change to be able to change.
The thing is, there are many things in life you cannot control, when it comes down to it, the only things you can control are your actions and your attitude!