Control. We do it for a reason. Life has taught us to. We do it because we love, because we care, because we fear….
We control because it makes sense.
There are a few characteristics of control though, that just aren’t helpful. I’ve found myself learning about some of this recently and as an Atlanta counselor have also teaching my clients about it.
Those of us who struggle with being emotionally over controlled might be the ones who are high achievers, don’t have time for feelings, tend to look like we have it all together, might not get over excited about new things, are fixers, don’t necessarily stand out in a crowd or take huge social risks, and might be perfectionists or overly critical about ourselves or others.
People who struggle with being over controlled might find safety in not putting themselves out there. We have been sent the message in life that messing up, being imperfect, and not being liked by others is a bad thing. Something taught us in life that we must be controlled and we must perform.
But this message caused us to push down feelings. It caused us to push away our feelings and needs, and to focus on controlling others and the world around us.
The tricky thing about controlling everything is that we can tend to begin experiencing sadness, depression, disconnection, and lack of joy.
I like to use the idea of going to the beach as something to consider when learning about control. When we go to the beach, what do the adult women do? As a woman, I’ve noticed that most of us tend to ‘lay out’. We are very aware of our bodies. We want to look acceptable. We are concerned about our cellulite…
Now let’s compare that with a 4 year old who comes from a healthy and safe home. What does that 4 year old do at the beach? She is not worried about her body. She plays. She runs. She builds castles. She has fun.
These are two very different experiences of the exact same moment.
So many of us adults who live as over controllers can’t really enjoy ourselves at times that we ought to. Because, we’re living in a state of control. And usually this tendency comes from a high level of sense of threat. We are controlling things because of fear.
And it doesn’t just stop with play. We don’t let ourselves get too close to people, and we don’t let them see us because that might feel way to vulnerable, or not even make sense to us. We tend to want to fixa all of our inadequacies. We focus on maintaining control, and we do not enjoy new information being presented because most time we analyze, intellectualize, or rationalize rather than remaining open and maybe even enjoying the new information.
So, what do you need if you are a controller? Here’s what this Atlanta counselor thinks you need:
Willingness, Flexibility, Vulnerability, and Connectedness.
Mainly, it’s the idea of being open to the world and all of the imperfections that humanity brings. It’s understanding that not everything is a threat, and an approach to things with an openness that allows you to experience things that help you realize that not evereything is a threat. The vulnerability to be imperfect and to accept that others will see your imperfetions, and not everyone will reject you because of them. The vulnerabilty it takes to really connect with someone.
Now, some of you overecontrollers are going to think that there’s no reason to change. You are fine. You have made a good life for yourself. But, if you recognize that others have called you controlling, or that people pull away from you, or that you’re depressed, or that you don’t have as many genuine friendships as you’d like….this might just be worth considering.
If you’d like to explore this more, why not talk to an Atlanta counselor?