Is your need to control everything controlling your life?
It’s normal to prefer feeling in control of your life. In fact, most of us prefer feeling in control of our lives.
And if you think about it, to a certain degree this is a natural and healthy way to navigate our often chaotic and unpredictable world. But if your need to control everything (and everyone) has gotten well, out of control, it might be time to look at what’s underlying your behavior.
In a word? Fear.
“When we micromanage and obsess over every detail of our lives, it’s because we’re afraid that if we don’t, things will spin out of control. That same fear creates rigid expectations around what life should look like and how others should think and behave.”
The Tao of Influence: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Leaders and Entrepreneurs
If this sounds like you, your Controller power pattern might be calling the shots.
Power patterns—often mistaken for personality traits—emerge as a way for us to manipulate our environment so we can feel good about ourselves, but really they distort our true power and cause us a lot of needless pain and suffering.
In my book, The Tao of Influence, I talk about the challenges everyone faces with the Controller within. At their core, Controllers believe that the universe is not safe. Often this belief springs from abuse or trauma early in life. This trauma causes people to develop a deep fear that they won’t have any control over their own lives.
As a way to cope with this fear, Controllers may dominate conversations, interrupt and insist on having the last word, or resort to passive-aggressive behavior like showing up late for meetings or giving others the “silent treatment.”
How does letting your inner Controller run rampant harm you?
Here’s How Your Inner Controller is Controlling Your Life
1. It Alienates Others and Destroys Relationships
It’s almost impossible to form close connections with others you’re always criticizing them, berating them, or telling them what to do. When you try to control others, it pushes them away and creates negative energy.
For tips on how to be more positive, read this blog post.
2. It’s Exhausting.
You wear yourself out trying to control your own environment and make people do what you want them to do (and your efforts rarely get the results you’re seeking, anyway). It takes away unnecessary energy and brings about negativity.
3. We Feel Let Down
We feel perpetually let down, hurt, and victimized when others (inevitably) don’t meet our expectations.
4. It Squelches Your Intuition
When you’re focused on controlling an outcome or another person you can’t hear the “still small voice.”
5. It Separates Us From Our Pure Love-Power
When I’m speaking at an event, I highlight the importance of our pure love-power. When you try to control others, you separate yourself from your love-power, which is necessary if we’re to ever be able to influence others.
If you suspect you may have a Controller power pattern, read on for a few tips to help release these tendencies and get more in line with your Divine nature—where you can begin to feel more free and joyful in your pure power.
To learn more about how you can deal with your own control issues while building a connection with the Controller in others, click here.
How to Release Your Controlling Tendencies
1. Watch out for “Red Flag” Words
There are many ways the Controller power pattern expresses itself. For example, you might find yourself saying things like:
- “You should do this.”
- “I can’t believe this is happening.”
- “Don’t use that word with me.”
- “Come here right now.”
- “Just stop it.”
- “You listen to me!”
- “I’m the boss in this house.”
- “How dare she say that to me!”
Controller feelings might also show up as anger, irritation, screaming or yelling at another, or explosive energy rising. These feelings are usually generated from a fear that is related to safety or overall wellbeing.
2. Understand Why the Controller Within Takes Over
Remember, the Controller’s goal is to be safe and protect against perceived betrayal and criticism. This is because they believe that no one can be trusted)
Think about whether this rings true for you. You may begin to notice a pattern in which you feel unsafe and try to protect yourself by manipulating the world around you.
My Controller power pattern often emerged when it was important for me to be right about something that I cared about. For example, after turning vegan, I began to notice family and friends’ eating habits and started commenting on their unhealthy food choices. ‘You shouldn’t be eating that,’ I’d say, thinking I was making a loving comment.
At one point, I realized that those demands were coming from a fear that I developed when my dad—a heavy smoker—died. As a young adult, I’d remind my dad occasionally to cut down on his smoking. Years later, when he died at the age of sixty-nine from liver cancer, I berated myself, thinking I could have done more to stop his early death.
I unconsciously created a belief that if I let people be who they are, they will leave me.
3. Learn to Hear Your “Inner Teacher”
The Controller desperately resists the Inner Teacher and the call of the soul. It ignores or dismisses intuitive guidance because intuition is, by nature, a change-agent that wants us to move forward.
Have you ever set yourself a goal only to realize when you got there that it wasn’t really what you wanted? Your intuition was speaking to you the entire time, but your Controller aspect was dominant.
To tap into your inner teacher, notice the feelings you have right before you turn to the Controller within. What triggers you to act out this power pattern?
Journaling can help you see when your thoughts and behaviors turn from love-power to the distorted power of the Controller. When you see your power patterns for what they are, you can never unsee them. When you recognize the pattern, stop and remind yourself that you choose to release it.
4. Listen to Your Body
Become aware of your body’s desire to close when something doesn’t go the way you expect or want it to. Your heart or your belly will feel as though it is tightening or closing.
At that moment, become aware of the sensation and the pain your body wants to express and release. Without paying much attention to thoughts, be with the pain, and allow it to express. This often takes only a few seconds or minutes, and, generally, the discomfort passes quickly.
5. Stop “Hooking in” to the Thoughts Surrounding Your Pain
Most of us have been taught to avoid feeling our pain. Instead, we get hooked into the thoughts that accompany the pain.
We engage these thoughts, and they become our reality. We then get caught up in controlling our lives and other people all over again.
There’s another option.
You can allow the thoughts to simply pass by without hooking into them. If you feel an emotion start to rise, relax your body, and allow yourself to feel that emotion but not hook the mind into making further meaning of it. This takes daily practice, but it will lead to great freedom and fulfillment.”
6. Give Yourself a Time-Out in High-Risk Situations
For example, take a personal time-out before responding to a challenging email, making a difficult call, or responding in person to someone who is unhappy with you.
This gives you a moment to breathe and proceed mindfully without triggering your Controller pattern to appear.
7. Be on the Lookout for Your Controller at the Beginning of Romantic Relationships
Often, when people find that “special someone,” they create thoughts about what that person will do or say with the outcome of life-long happiness.
They begin to expect certain words to be said, certain actions to be fulfilled, certain beliefs to become apparent. And when these expectations are not met, the relationship becomes tainted by feelings and behaviors demonstrating righteousness, withdrawal, victim perspective, superiority, and a host of other power patterns that quickly extinguish any possibility for the relationship to thrive.
For a relationship not to be dominated by the Controller, vigilantly manage your expectations.
8. Observe and Acknowledge Small Victories
You’re on the right track when you begin to notice subtle improvements in your interactions with others as well as in your own inner peace.
Give yourself a pat on the back when you realize that you are able to wait patiently in line instead of needing to barge in and take control. Or when you are able to listen to a friend or family member share about their day without trying to offer unsolicited advice or take over the conversation. Or when you don’t become angry when someone disagrees with your opinion.
These moments show your progress.
If you are running yourself ragged trying to control every circumstance of your life, you are suffering. No one can thrive under such vigilance.
But when we release the Controller within and remove our focus on protecting ourselves at all costs, we can open to the flow of life and experience the freedom and expansion that is meant for us.
There, you will find peace and fulfillment.
I also invite you to get in touch with me to continue conversations about how you can take control of the Controller within. You can also take a look at the programs I offer that can help you get on the right track by recognizing your own patterns.
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