Are you someone who others call a control freak? Do you know someone in your family or circle of friends others would call by this name? In either case, reading this blog could give you some key insights into a condition that is widely misunderstood and potentially devastating for those who suffer from it and those who interact with them.
How Prevalent is This Condition?
While there aren’t hard statistics about how many people in the general population suffer from this condition, their capacity to inflict misery on others, and consequently on themselves is practically unlimited. They may be diagnosed with a personality disorder or not, but they either are so wrapped up in exerting control over everybody they come into contact with or are totally cut off from others (due to friends and family choosing to have nothing to do with them anymore). I can safely say there is a strong link between this condition and other mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.
Strong or Weak?
The air that people who are considered control freaks put on is often one of being ‘in charge’ or ‘in command.’ They tend to demand respect from those they have authority over and may give off the impression of strength, but nothing could be further from the truth. People who have control issues like this are fundamentally terrified of losing their grip of control over others, so they feel they have to exert power over friends, family members, employees, and just about everybody who comes into their orbit. They are very insecure people and learned at an early age that letting others just ‘be’ was not okay and they might be abandoned completely if they didn’t try to control others as much as they can.
The Need for Control is in Our Makeup
If you think badly of yourself for your need to control others, just understand that we all have a need for control. We all have a need to feel safe as living beings, this is something all mammals have in common. If we don’t have control over our environment to some degree, we can have a lot of problems mentally and emotionally. What I’m talking about here is when we need to control other people to such a degree that it becomes smothering and keeps others from being themselves. This includes our children to the extent that they don’t get a chance to explore and try new things, thus not having a chance to learn from their mistakes. I’m not saying if you’re a parent that you don’t try to protect them, but not letting them play, explore, and discover new things keeps their spirit from developing to its full potential.
How to Deal With the Tendency to be a Control Freak
If you’re someone others consider to be a control freak, you need to find a way to give others some space to breathe and grow. Even if this means possibly losing them, it is essential to let others have some degree of autonomy in your family, circle of friends, or in your company. If you live or work with someone who you consider to be a control freak, you owe it to yourself to either be assertive with them when they try to control you, or to find constructive ways to cope with them. One of these is to learn relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises when you’re not in their presence. Another is to check for understanding when you get a set of requirements and demands to either clarify the contradictions in the orders they may bark at you, and then to document what you understand so you can later call attention to the inherent contradictions and conflicts in what they’re telling you to do if these come up later on. These folks are also often micro-managers as well. If you are someone others call a control freak, you need to learn relaxation techniques to help alleviate the fear, stress, and anxiety you probably suffer from. There’s a lot of good reading material about the benefits of letting go, part of which is that your relationships can improve dramatically if you do.
What I Can Do to Help
I’ve worked for 10 years now with those who suffer from anxiety and depression in relation to either being control freaks or have suffered from having been in relationships with control freaks. I can show you how to either let go of control over others, as well as how to find ways of coping with the control freaks in your life. Give me a call at 512-374-0100, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can fill out the form below. Being free from control from others is so important to being happy and fulfilled, as is letting others have space and freedom. Start on the path to freedom today!
About the author: Scott Kampschaefer, LCSW is a private practice therapist in Austin, Texas. He has an extensive background in working with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder at a clinic for older adults with these disorders in Austin. He now works with adults and adolescents 14 and up in private practice. His new e-book is entitled Life’s Lessons from the Young and the Old and is available for purchase on Amazon.
Click here to find out more about how Scott can help you with depression.