Need to control


(graphic by Lena Yang).
(graphic by Lena Yang).

“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”

Sound familiar? If you or someone you know says this then there is a good chance they are a controller. Controllers are often perfectionists who insist on completing things themselves to ensure they are done right.

While most controllers think of themselves as being right, instead of controlling, there are some of us out there that are fully aware of what we’re doing; and let me tell you, that can be worse. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of coming to terms with the harsh reality that I am a controller and now that I know, I realize it is the source of stress and exhaustion. No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I always have to be in control. I must know what is happening, where I’m going and why.

Yet most infuriating part about it all is realizing that I can’t stop. The irony is that controllers can’t control the fact that they are controlling.

Judith Orloff, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA explained in Psychology Today that controllers are often afraid of falling apart, so they micromanage in order to reduce anxiety. Most often, controllers will attempt to control other’s lives through incessantly offering advice or insisting they know what is best for people.

Orloff outlines a few questions to ask yourself to determine whether you are in a relationship with a controller:

  • Does this person keep claiming to know what is best for you?
  • Do you typically have to do this his/her way? Is he or she so domineering you feel suffocated?
  • Do you feel you’re held prisoner to this person’s rigid sense of order?
  • Is this relationship no fun because it lack spontaneity?

One of the ways Orloff suggests to deal with a controller is to be assertive in a healthy way. Don’t try to control the controller but stay confident and refuse to play victim. Most often, the controller does not realize they are monopolizing a situation, so sensitively remind them that you want your opinions heard too and they’ll likely change.

It’s important not to think of controllers as conniving people who are intentionally trying to manipulate your life. Nine times out of ten us controllers have no idea the effect we’re having over other people. Through our constant interruptions and non-stop advice and suggestions, we’re truly trying to help.

Our downfall comes in when we think we know best and get upset when people don’t take our advice, but we get over it and move on.

The good news is there are ways to combat this kind of person; don’t just sit back and let us take over.

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