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D1. Working on Control

Controlling people can be identified by a few primary characteristics: (1) their way is best; (2) they find ways to excuse themselves while at the same time finding fault with others; (3) they are perfectionists–other people’s work is never good enough to meet their standards; (4) they think they know what’s best for other people; and (5) they sound reasonable on the surface but are tightly wound underneath, leading to an irrational need to have every detail be perfect–anything less than perfect just isn’t “right,” as defined by them, of course.

If you are in a relationship where these ingredients dominate, either in your partner or yourself, change will be very difficult. Control freaks are too afraid to change, and whenever change appears, they become agitated inside, causing them to double up on their control.

Fortunately, control is rarely so extreme. It exists as an obstacle mostly when two people start arguing over “my way” versus “your way.” Telltale signs of controlling behavior can be found in typical statements that come up time and again, such as: (1) “You know I’m right.”; (2) “I have this covered, leave everything to me.”; (3) “I only have your best interests at heart.”; (4) “You didn’t do it right, how often do I have to remind you?”; (5) “Why do I always have to clean up your mess?”; (6) “You left a dirty dish in the sink again.”

If you recognize yourself as the taskmaster, perfectionist, neat freak or the possessive one in your relationship, pause and confront this obstacle. What you need to work on is to remove the underlying tension that always exists if another person feels controlled–they are being slowly suffocated. Your good intentions don’t matter, because no matter how neat the house is, how perfectly you raise the children, how skillfully you manage every detail, if your partner is being suffocated, your controlling behavior is leading to trouble. If you do, your partner will see changes that will help him or her start to soften their resistance. Read More

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