Tame the Control Freak - Either Someone You Know or Yourself
- Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
- 2001 5 Dec
It's understandable to sometimes struggle with anxieties over life's uncertainties. But the best way to respond to those uncertainties is to trust God - the only One who is truly in control.
If someone else is trying to control you, here are some ideas for breaking free:
- Empathize with the control freak by getting to know him or her more and asking God to help you understand what's causing the person to attempt to control others.
- Ask God to help you see the person's positive qualities and give you the grace to relate to him or her even when the person drives you crazy.
- Give the control freak as much information as possible so that he or she can feel "in the know." For example, if the control freak is a co-worker, be proactive by answering questions you think might come up before they do, and let him or her see how competently you work throughout all stages of your assigned tasks.
- Schedule a time to talk with the control freak. Calmly express how you feel in the relationship, being careful not to blame but to work toward a better relationship. Ask the person how he or she thinks the situation might be improved, then offer your suggestions for how you might have more autonomy and why that's important to you. Be specific and positive. For example, if the control freak is your spouse, negotiate how each of you could best contribute to the household by dividing the chores that need to be done.
- Focus on what matters most to you when trying to win back control from a control freak. Don't let every small annoyance turn into a power struggle.
- Delegate tasks to the control freak whenever possible. For example, if your mother-in-law doesn't like the way you clean your house, invite her to clean it herself. Most likely, the unexpected extra burden will cause her to rethink her criticism the next time.
- Set boundaries with the control freak. For example, if a friend frequently drops by unannounced at inconvenient times, simply don't answer the door, and insist that he or she call before coming over again.
- Forgive the control freak, with God's help, so bitterness doesn't grow in your heart. Try to be as kind as possible to him or her.
- When you must say no to the control freak, don't feel obligated to apologize or offer explanations. Simply say no firmly yet respectfully.
If you find yourself trying to control other people, here are some suggestions:
- Ask God to help you discern what control is healthy and what is unhealthy. Know that some control can be good, such as setting goals for your own life and working toward them or planning your schedule or finances. But realize that you should never attempt to control other people or expect to be able to manipulate all the circumstances in your life.
- Pray about the anxieties that fuel your urges to control. Each time a worry enters your mind, turn it into a prayer, asking God to guide you or handle the situation for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you trust God more. Know that God has much more power and wisdom than you do, and that because of His love for you, He wants to exercise that power and wisdom in your life.
- Accept the gift of God's grace for yourself, and ask Him to help you extend grace to others. Rely on God's strength rather than your own, and don't expect yourself to be perfect. Ask God to help you view others as He sees them and to give you more love for them.
- Slow down the pace of your life so you're not feeling frantic.
- Don't waste time entertaining "What if?" thoughts about the future or dwelling on regrets from the past. Focus on the present.
- Consider the many blessings in your life and thank God regularly for them.
- Admit your mistakes honestly, pursue forgiveness, then move on.
- Encourage people however you can. Think of creative ways to nurture people's spirits every day through simple words and acts of kindness.
Adapted from The Control Freak, copyright 2000 by Les Parrott III, Ph.D. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Ill., www.tyndale.com, 1-800-323-9400.
Les Parrott III is founder and co-director of the Center for Relationship Development on the campus of Seattle Pacific University. He is also a professor of psychology and the author of several other books.
Are you struggling in a relationship with someone who's too controlling? Do you struggle with controlling tendencies yourself? How has receiving God's grace and giving it to others helped you break free of control issues? Visit Live It's forum to respond, or read what others have to say. Just click on the link below.