Ahhh. Control. So I had a client the other day talking about feeling like they didn’t have control over their life, and it was a disempowering thought. Just the way she said it, I could tell how deflated she felt. First of all, does any of us really have control? Not really.
We may think we do, but in reality, the only thing we can truly control is how we respond to situations. For my client, she was particularly upset because everywhere she looked (and you know how you have tunnel vision when you are focusing on one thing – The Law of Attraction in full operation), her relationship with her family members and her co-workers, she felt a lack of respect, and ultimately like she didn’t have a say in anything.
The perfectionist in her wanted to control “all” the things and events. She was driving herself crazy, holding herself and the people around her to such high standards. So, when we sat down to talk about it, I was naturally curious about her issues around control and why it mattered so much.
It’s a natural human desire to want to control things. Our minds like predictability; we like getting what we want. Heck – I even have a few pairs of girlie socks for my boots that say – “You aren’t the boss of me,” “I’m not bossy, I am the boss,” and “I do what I want.” Just putting them on gives me a sense of control and power😊 I put those socks on, and my boots and I’m triumphantly singing the song “these boots were made for walking” all day- mentally, of course!
Control can be positive and give us the feeling of order, stability, and safety. But when we take it to the point where it becomes all-consuming, and things don’t go as planned, we can become miserable.
Controlling behaviors seep into all aspects of life, from work to social situations to home environments. Everything from micromanaging at work to dominating or controlling a conversation in a social setting. Some controlling people are “tight” with money- someone once said my husband was so controlling with his money he squeaked when he walked because he was so tight.
It’s funny when it’s not about you, right? Maybe you know someone or are the person who gives the “silent” treatment when things don’t go your way. Whatever it is, looking into controlling behaviors and how we respond to them is worth doing. If you think about it, each of us has a few control issues, or we interact with someone controlling and bear the brunt of how to react in situations, right?
Deep down, much control boils down to a fear of uncertainty. This month we are talking about Emotional Intelligence in The Clarity Club. Looking at fear as a basic emotion sheds light on why someone might exhibit controlling behaviors. Beyond the basic emotion of fear, there are secondary and tertiary emotions and feelings. Understanding the deeper levels of emotions is such a game changer. When I say game changer, I mean it helps uncover the deeper seeded issues, which allows us to have more empathy and compassion in a situation, and we show up differently.
For example, when a person isn’t in control, they may be fearful, but looking deeper, are they acting out of fear because they are scared? Going deeper- are they scared because they feel helpless or frightened? So much more compassion versus just thinking they are acting out, right? Maybe they are anxious, insecure, or feeling threatened. Going deeper, it could be because they are overwhelmed, feeling inferior or worthless, or perhaps even insignificant. Based on where they are coming from opens up so many options for how to respond. So control is so much deeper than someone needs to be in charge and be right.
How do you deal with that?
There’s a four-step process, and I’ve got an acronym to help you remember- CABC.
It stands for Calm, Awareness, Boundaries, and Choose.
So when you are the recipient of a controlling behavior:
- The first thing you want to do is get Calm. Be still. Don’t jump to an immediate reaction – remember what you resist persists.
- Step two is Awareness. We talk a lot about Awareness and cultivating it in the Clarity Club. And that’s where in this situation, you look with non-judgment as the silent witness and understand the emotion driving the situation. What is their underlying reason for acting that way? Maybe your spouse is upset that you are home late, and you feel like they are being controlled, but with Awareness, you might realize they are just worried about you being on the road after dark. There is so much more peace in looking at the story that way.
- The third thing is You are the boss of you, ultimately. So setting boundaries is a healthy way to run your life. This can be as simple as verbalizing how you want to be treated and how you need the other’s emotions to be presented. Or it could be simply reflecting how their actions or words affect you. Knowing where you stand, what’s in alignment with your principles and beliefs, and gently sharing them from a place of calm and confidence. Then they can take it how they need to.
- Lastly, choose. Choose how you will proceed from a place of internal integrity, what feels right for you. If your co-worker is constantly crossing boundaries, how will you stand up for yourself in a way that feels true to you?
And here’s the deal, the more you push, the more life pushes back at you. I ordered a pet pillow from Amazon. It came in this vacuum-sealed bag that was literally 3 inches by 10 inches. When I cut the plastic open, that darn pillow literally grew to 18 inches by 30. It was massive. Too big for the area I had intended. So, you know what I had to do? Figure out how to get it back in that tiny bag. I pushed and pushed, and it was pretty comical. I’m sitting on the part of it while rolling it up. It was fighting me every step of the way. Finally, I went to UPS with it half in the bag, and I’m like, I did the best I could. And that’s the reality of life. Some issues we have mushroom. And the more we try to fight them, the more they fight back. So that leads me to resisting what is.
Resisting What Is
When we try to control every situation, that’s precisely what we are doing. We are resisting what is. How would it look to approach the situation with no resistance? To just let it sink in. See it for what it is without our rose-colored, socially conditioned glasses. And look at the situation with curiosity and a little fun? I firmly believe that events and people’s actions flow in the right sequence even when you don’t know it.
There is always a lesson to be learned, but if we try to control the situation to project our desires, we miss the lesson. And, honestly, how often do you find yourself in Groundhog Day with the same lesson being presented over and over and over again in different flavors? It’s because you haven’t stopped to learn what the universe is trying to tell you. Fact check!
Control is about being rigid and constricted. And when I think about that, I think about the trees that come down during hurricanes. They were so rigid they didn’t bend with the wind. But look at palm trees; they sway and go with the flow. Right?
Experimenting With Non-Resistance
So I want to give you three ways to experiment with non-resistance and letting go of the need of control.
- The first way is to let others have more freedom without your input. I’m telling you, that is so freeing. The other day my sister asked for some advice, and I responded, “I’m curious about what you think?” First, it took so much pressure off of me not to be the problem solver, but at the same time, it gave her the opportunity and power to formulate her response. She ended up really appreciating the feeling of empowerment. If you stay in stress and overwhelm. This is an awesome tip. Stop trying to control other people’s business.
- Another way to experiment with non-resistance and let go of control is to realize that everyone is doing the best they can from their own level of consciousness. And I’m telling you that is powerful too. When your kid is acting out or emotional, you probably wouldn’t have a kneejerk reaction and say, “you shouldn’t,” whatever it is, right? Likely you would be like, “aw, sweetheart; I see where you are coming from. Based on your experience, I understand you might – whatever it is, but have you thought about it this way.” The same compassion you’d extend to your precious child is how you want to treat any other human being.
- And the third way is to learn to stand back and observe. We had some work done at our house, and the contractor didn’t show up for four months. I had started getting really ticked off. Telling myself stories like he doesn’t value our business and other jobs are more important than ours. When I stood back and looked at the situation, I realized – well, it wasn’t costing us anything because the work hadn’t been completed, so money was in my husband’s tight pocket, LOL. I also realized that it wasn’t a life-or-death situation that I get the work completed by a specific time – I mean, it was just a storage area.
So, nonresistance– let others have more freedom, realize they are doing the best they can, stand back and observe. And when all of that fails and you are on your last nerve, just do what I do….. Channel Ava Max and sing Maybe You’re the Problem. Notice I’m still working on the whole process myself.
The bottom line is we should take on the attitude that there are larger forces at work that know what you want and where you want to go. Stop trying to control everything. As my husband says, “I’m a slinky, just don’t throw me down the stairs.” I love what I call his Al’isms. So, just be flexible in life. But at the same time, respect your boundaries. Know you don’t have to control everything and set comfortable boundaries.
So until next week, be a slinky, be a palm tree, or whatever analogy you want to use. Just be flexible because life will be much more enjoyable at the end of the day if you just go with the flow!