Is Control Getting in the Way of Your Relationships? Part 1

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The ceaseless and never ending need for control can become overwhelming and exhausting, wreaking havoc on relationships, careers, and your overall quality of life.

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”

― Viktor E. Frankl

Sometimes, letting go of your tight grip of how you think things should be or how quickly they should come together, and simply letting things run their own course can be a very difficult task, but worth working your way towards. By releasing control and letting the flow carry you along, paradoxically, you gain more control of both your attitude and your response to what’s happening to you at the moment. When control runs your life, it can be exhausting on an emotional level and tends to lead to “control battles” with others in your life that demand their own level of control.

Examples of ways we exert control over others:

  • Micromanagement -the micromanager feels the need to have their hands into everything and doesn’t really trust that their spouse/co-workers/staff/children/friends will pull their weight or accomplish tasks. Therefore, the micromanager feels the need to constantly remind them (or look over their shoulder) to make sure the task gets done. They scrutinize every move and, after a while, the recipient starts to feel incompetent, anxious, frustrated, and angry.

  • Controlling intimate partners may keep a person from seeing or talking to loved ones or friends

  • Gaslighting - manipulating someone through psychological means into questioning their own truth and sanity.

  • Dishonesty

  • Over-protective or helicopter parenting

  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, bullying, or taunting

  • Love withdrawal - removing affection or attention when someone does something of which you don’t approve (“the cold shoulder”). This is done to gain control through emotions such as guilt, shame, or fear of abandonment.

Examples of ways we try to control ourselves or our environment:

  • Disordered eating

  • Compulsive exercising

  • Self-harm

  • Substance abuse

  • Compulsive arranging, tidying, or cleaning

Do any of these sound familiar? Do you delve into controlling others or yourself? Do you feel controlled by others?

Working through the process of both letting go of control in your life, and setting boundaries with others that try to control you, can be both frightening and difficult, but it can be rewarding and it is absolutely possible. Consider talking to someone that can help you move through the process.

For help moving toward a more peaceful life, please contact me at (717) 288-5064 / and take the opportunity to make letting go of control a lot more comfortable!!

In Part 2, we’ll look more closely at what leads us to crave control so much and look more in depth on how psychotherapy can help with control issues in your life.

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