They don’t see their controlling behaviour as symptoms of what’s really going on, their own anxiety has run out of control.
Irrational thoughts are common in our high stress world: If I don’t get this contract, I’ll get fired. If I’m not home by 6:00, I’m a terrible parent. If I don’t get that raise, I suck at my job. All of these thoughts might be true, but probably not.
Rather than tackle our own irrational thoughts and mould it into more realistic thinking, we attempt to control the situation, usually by trying to control other people.
Want to know if you’re a control freak? Here are eight signs for your self-diagnosing pleasure.
- You believe that if someone would change one or two things about themselves, you’d be happier. So you try to “help them” change by pointing it out, usually over and over.
- You micromanage others to make them fit your, often unrealistic, expectations. You don’t believe in second best and you don’t think anyone else should either.
- You judge others’ behaviour as right or wrong and passive-aggressively withhold attention until they fall in line with your expectations. Sitting in silent judgment is a master form of control.
- You offer “constructive criticism” as a veiled attempt to advance your own agenda.
- You change who you are or what you believe so that someone will accept you. Instead of just being yourself, you attempt to incept others by managing their impression of you.
- You present worst-case scenarios in an attempt to influence someone away from certain behaviours and toward others. AKA fear mongering.
- You have a hard time with ambiguity and being OK with not knowing something.
- You intervene on behalf of people by trying to explain or dismiss their behaviours to others.
You believe that if you can change another person’s undesirable behaviour, then you will be happier or more fulfilled. You make someone else responsible for how you feel.
For fans of The Big Band Theory this reminds me of Sheldon Cooper, “Would you like a chocolate Penny?”
The thing is, you are only responsible for you. Rather than attempt to control everyone else, work on becoming a better version of yourself. Here are a few ideas:
- Be vulnerable with people.
- Never compromise your self-respect by altering your core beliefs.
- Be realistic about your expectations of others.
- Quit the passive-aggressive nonsense, be direct.
- Accept that a large portion of life is laced with unknowns.
- Embrace confrontation, it really is sometimes the only thing you can do.
- Take responsibility for your own happiness.
If you work on your own improvement instead of trying to control others, healthier relationships at work, as well as everywhere else, will then come to you as a result.