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How to tame your inner control freak and why it exists?

Do you find yourself having the need to control everything, and you always feel like you have to do everything, which leads you to overload your plate, puts strain on your relationship, and can leave you feeling exhausted, stressed, and unappreciated? Or maybe no one can do things the way you do, so would you prefer to do them yourself?

With all the clients in the years I have worked with, all of these have control freak-like behaviors and have always been created from events in their past (mostly childhood) where they have not felt safe or didn't feel heard. An adaptation response is formed in these early brain development stages.

These childhood psychological adaptation responses are not conscious adaptations, they are unconscious adaptations, they are not willed, they are not deliberate, they are automatic. They are under the level of awareness.

So as you age they can turn into maladaptive responses and you can’t just drop them, you even associate your survival with them, so you get very reluctant to give them up even though they may be causing you all sorts of issues in your life & relationships.

You may have grown up in a dysfunctional family where you never felt safe!

You may have been forced to take certain subjects or do music when you didn't want to - and felt as if you didn't have a voice, or that what you really wanted didn't matter, your family may have bounced around moving towns with no say over it, or you may have been forced to act certain ways with people you don't even like. You may have grown up in a dysfunctional family where there was emotional or physical abuse, where you never felt safe, and where things that felt wrong were out of your control.

So the need to control everything became your adaptive response which turned into survival behavior as you grew older.

As you grew older, this psychological childhood adaptive response takes hold, you realized that if you control everything, you can predict the outcome of something, which gives you power & certainty. You can predict the outcome of something and this gives you a sense of feeling safe. Remember your unconscious mind's job is to keep you alive and it will install survival behaviors that think it will keep you alive and keep replaying those behaviors as it thinks it's doing you a favor! As any threats (whether real or imagined) activate this survival mechanism.

Is your child acting out of character and throwing unnecessary tantrums?

My niece (an 8-year-old), who was acting out

of character while I was recently in Australia helping my sister move towns, was throwing unnecessary tantrums where she wouldn't normally, demanding that we set up her room first with the new furniture that we had bought, etc., and wanting to control when we went to the park and what we ate and how we pretty much did everything.

Even though my sister did the best job, including her in the decision to move, etc., I could see that she was feeling out of control, so she was trying to grab hold of things that would make her feel safe and in control of something. This is why I believe she was acting out because she felt so out of control of the decisions that were being made to her.

As children, they have no idea how to articulate the emotions (energy in motion) that they feel - this flood of energy through their body - so they have outbursts in unusual ways to express that energy because they don't know how to identify it or what to do with it.

Then we find a behavior that meets that unmet need, which could be safety and security (for example), and we adopt that behavior as a protective mechanism because the feeling made us feel so uncomfortable that we never want to experience it again (the mind hates discomfort and fear = fear means a life-threatening experience, and when you understand that the brain's job is to keep you alive, it avoids so).

Fast forward 15 years (if these adaptive responses are created and emotions go unrecognized and unprocessed), and you find yourself a control freak - needing to control everything!

And you become so accustomed to operating in this manner that you say, "I've just always been like this," or we justify it as "I just like to be organized," or we rationalize as "well, every time someone has done it, it's just not good enough," or "it doesn't get done in a timely manner," or "If I don't do it, no one will."

Then your clever mind looks in your environment through that filter and finds examples in the past where that has been the case, and through that filtering system, you exclude all the times when you get the opposite result.

This then confirms why you NEED to act in this manner... WHEN IN REALITY, it's just fear and a lack of certainty (Certainty is 1 of 6 human needs)

What you miss out on by attempting to control everything:

You're missing out on accepting things as they are. By constantly forcing and attempting to control outcomes, you disconnect from the infinite possibilities that the universe provides when you are in flow - not resistance - and you limit even better things to come your way than you could have imagined, and you make your life difficult by constantly having such a tight grip on life and the people in it, you can drive people away, miss out on opportunities due to your tunnel vision of (my way or no way), start unnecessary arguments, and make your life difficult.

Because of your rigid approach, you cut yourself off from creativity, and most control freaks are unhappy because they feel the weight of the world is on their shoulders or just have a deep sense of dissatisfaction - and I've worked with some who have turned into miserable perfectionists & some who have become excessively possessive over people and projects, etc. The irony is that we want control over our lives while having no control over anything - we have no control over the weather, we have no control over whether the world stops turning, and we have no control over other people.

How to Deal with Your Control Freak:

1. Recognize that you cannot (and should not) control everything. Allow yourself a break and learn to go with the flow every now and then. This will feel awkward at first, but that's okay; you'll get used to it. Sit in an uncomfortable position.

2. Recognize when your control freak emerges. Recognize that this is not who you truly are. Surrender and take a different approach instead.

3. Investigate the possible origins of this behavior. Identifying where it came from can sometimes help to start the healing process. When you realize you no longer require that belief or adaptative response, you can upgrade it. If you're still having trouble, see a therapist.

3. Experiment with letting go of control. Find small things to start letting go of control over, and tell yourself that it's okay if those things fall apart because you didn't control them. Allowing others to step up is a process that can take time. And gradually increase this.

Mantras for reminding yourself to let go of control:

I am safe & secure now…

I let life happen for me knowing I am always safe & loved…

I surrender to the flow of life…

I release control and I trust I am always safe…

I no longer need to control everything & everyone, I surrender this feeling …


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