Controllers often have a very deep seeded need to have everything exactly the way they expect, in order to feel safe, secure, and successful. Needing to be in control of everything and everyone around us. While in some cases having control is necessary, it is not always so. Most things in life require a power exchange, giving up some of yours in order to gain some of someone else’s. This exchange is essential to healthy relationships. The lack of this exchange causes dysfunction and can lead to resentment. But why is our need for control so deep seeded?
We want control out of fear. It could be a fear of what might happen if we don’t have control. It could be a fear that we will lose all control. Regardless of what the fear is, it drives us to find ways to gain the upper hand in situations that we can’t necessarily change. Anxiety also drives our need for control. This anxiety can be rooted in a fear that our needs will not be met completely by those we care about. We are driven by a fear of being hurt, rejected, humiliated, abandoned, or failure. As a result of this anxiety and fear, we become disappointed, frustrated, and even angry when things don’t go according to plan. Vulnerability and giving over control are uncomfortable for this reason.
There is also an aspect of denial in with certain people. Some people refuse to recognize that they are trying to manipulate and bend others and situations to work the way they want to. This causes conflict in relationships while others begin to recognize the manipulation. Sometimes denial is in the way of seeing the need to control and an easy way to promise conflict in dysfunctional relationships.
There are just some times when we feel like we have lost all control. We may feel lost, or threatened. This can cause turmoil in our relationships and everyday life. We may lash out at those around us in an attempt to force them to give over their control. This makes the power exchange lose equilibrium, causing the other person to push back. Further conflict will just lead to further power struggle, in which no one will get what they need. We can meet our other needs without having complete and total control, but the problem most times is learning to accept that and not make the other person wrong. But how can we learn to accept that we cannot manage everything?
There is no easy answer or way to do so. We need to learn to recognize that it is impossible to control everything and everyone. The world is going to function around us as it will, and the only control we have is over ourselves. It is also important to recognize that in order to gain control, you need to give up some of your control. Relationships are a constant exchange of power, but that does not mean that one is weaker than the other.
Some people are what we call “Controllers”. Controllers try to dictate what you think, say, and feel all of the time. They are perfectionists more often than not, and will refuse to do anything that isn’t the way they would do it. They have an opinion about absolutely everything and will let you know what it is. Their comments border on irritating and abusive, making it hard to be around them. But in reality, many of us can attract a controller. Controllers are attracted to those who are the “victim” type; those with low self-esteem. Controllers find it easy to manipulate victims and have no trouble keeping them under their thumb. This is a very dysfunctional and toxic relationship combination. So what do you do if you are involved with a controller?
Well there are several approaches you can take, most of which won’t work. Going on the offensive is one way to push the buttons of a Controller, but trying to tell them what to do will not work. It is important to remain calm and confid ent, and sticking to your guns. You can’t let a controller push you around, but you also have to learn to pick your battles. Sweating the small stuff just gives them more leverage in the long run, so standing your ground on the important issues should be priority.
Having power can do a lot of great things as far as self-esteem and confidence are concerned, but too much is never a good thing. As with most things, control is good in moderation. It is important to keep in mind the equilibrium in relationships because they require a power exchange. Your needs can be met without having total control over every one, everything, and every situation. It is most important to remember to treat those we care about with love, respect, and humility.