We all want some control over our lives. We want to feel like we govern the direction our life takes. Of course, the circumstances of our life are largely determined by those around us. Our spouses, kids, family members, co-workers, and friends have a huge influence. Their behavior, good or bad, determines a lot about what we have to deal with in life. Therefore, many of us want to control people. Some of us even go too far in trying to control others. We use whatever means available to get them to do what we want. We become control freaks.
Some signs that you may be a control freak.
Control freaks rarely recognize they are one. Admitting you are a control freak is sort of difficult because it requires you to acknowledge an unflattering thing about yourself. It really takes quite a bit of healthy introspection and self-honesty. These things seem fairly rare in our culture.
We don’t like to admit we might be flawed. Of course, control freaks especially hate to admit flaws because self-righteousness is really central to the psyche. Control freaks are usually convinced they know the right way for everyone else to run their lives.
However, if you are curious as to whether or not you are one, here are a few signs. One or more of these symptoms generally exist in the life of a control freak.
- Lack of delegation – Control freaks usually find themselves over-worked and exhausted. Of course, we blame this on everyone else when in reality it is because we refuse to delegate. Control freaks believe in the motto, "If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself!" We are afraid to let anyone else do anything because the other person might screw up and their failure could reflect back on us. We would never feel comfortable putting our livelihood in the hands of another like this.
- Perfectionism – As you might have guessed, control freaks are often perfectionists as well. We want everything done just so. It is my way or the highway! The two behaviors feed upon one another. Again, self-righteousness is a hallmark of the control freak. We often wonder why everyone else in the world are such idiots. Control freaks cling to their perfectionism. We may even be proud of it.
- Friction and resentment – Control freaks often experience friction and resentment in their relationships. Of course, we usually don’t understand why. We just want what’s best for those we care about. If they would just listen to us, then we could help them. People don’t want to be controlled and they certainly get tired of being made to feel inadequate. This usually creates friction and over the long-term a certain level of resentment. The control freak usually tries to ignore this or blame it on the insecurities of others.
- Fear – In more extreme cases, control freaks may realize others are afraid of them. When necessary, control freaks will use intimidation to manipulate. This intimidation can be physical or it can be emotional. Those around us walk on eggshells to avoid upsetting us and receiving the fury of our wrath. Somewhere in the back of their mind, control freaks know they create this fear and that it is wrong, but it is a power hard to give up.
If you identify at all with any of these, then you may want to go a little further before you call yourself a full-fledged control freak. There’s more you can use in your diagnosis.
The tools of a control freak.
Control freaks have a lot of different methods at their disposal to get others to do what they want. We are master manipulators. If you aren’t sure yet whether you are a control freak, then assess yourself further by determining if you use these tactics in your relationships.
Guilt is a favorite weapon of the control freak. The masters can make you feel guilty without batting an eye. It can be used in almost any situation and is effective on just about everybody.
A control freak will blow the smallest thing out of proportion. We will exaggerate our positive performance and your failures to manipulate the situation.
Withholding attention and affection is another tool of the control freak. If you don’t do what I like, then I’ll freeze you out. Of course, withdrawal can also take the form of physical absence.
Passive-aggressive behavior is devious. It involves things like intentional procrastination and stubbornness. An example might be intentionally failing to mail an important application until it is overdue thereby causing your spouse to miss an event they wanted to attend, but you opposed.
Badgering a person continuously to ruin their self-confidence is a technique many control freaks use. The intent is to make others weak and dependent. I think this one gets used way too often on children.
Rage and threats
When all else fails, one of the more efficient means of controlling another person is intimidation. The control freak can throw an impressive fit. We will use our volume, size and strength to bully others into doing what we want.
Two steps to breaking free.
Being a control freak is unhealthy. It generally will destroy a relationship. Sooner or later those being controlled wake up and leave. Once they are outside of our sphere of influence, they rarely return. If you think you might be a control freak, then here are two first steps to breaking free.
1. Admit the truth about yourself.
Recognizing you have a problem is often the hardest part of solving it. If any of the above sounds familiar to you, then you probably need to come clean about your control freak tendencies. Being honest with yourself and others won’t be easy, but it will start the healing process. Admit your guilt and tell those around you that you are going to try to do better. Enlist their help.
2. Accept that performance does not equal self-worth.
Many control freaks feel that they are only as good as their latest performance. They equate their self-worth to how well they are doing on tasks, raising a family, etc. This is dangerous. It makes you want to micro-manage and control every aspect of life to prevent any type of failure. This is often a root cause of becoming a control freak. Accept yourself for who you are! You have intrinsic qualities that make you a valuable, lovable person even if your life isn’t perfect.
Control freaks please don’t continue to do damage to your most valuable relationships! Use this information to recognize what you’ve been doing and start making changes. The results will amaze you.
Are you a control freak?
Photo by Glutnix