When I was younger, I felt the need to control everything around me and could get easily stressed if things didn’t go to plan. That could have been a cancelled train or an unexpected visitor but it could completely throw me off track.
I’d always prided myself on being organised and getting things done, and I felt a sense of security and safety from being in control. The challenges were when I wanted to control the things that were outside of my direct zone of influence (me, how I operate, how I respond to things and how I feel). Wasting time and energy trying to control things I had no choice over affected my confidence, my relationships and ultimately my happiness.
My inner control freak was part of being a perfectionist and had to be addressed for me to be able to move forward in life. Working with my clients, I often see this sabotaging pattern stopping them from thriving and stealing their happiness.
Signs you’re a control freak:
You’re a perfectionist
You’re super organised and like routine
You avoid delegating tasks as you think you can do a better job yourself
You’re not flexible and can get easily stressed when plans change
You think in black and white terms – there is no middle ground
You have high standards, both for yourself and your expectations of others
You can be critical and judgemental
You struggle to relax
Whilst there are times when some of these qualities are useful, they can also be very destructive and cause more issues than they solve.
How to stop being a control freak
The first step to stopping your inner control freak is becoming aware you are doing it. You will start to notice patterns of the times when you feel the need to control things. As you build your awareness, you will be able to notice them faster and step in and change your strategies to more useful ones.
What’s really going on here? Why is it so important you control the situation? This will help you to work out what is driving your inner control freak such as fear. It will also help you to get some perspective on what is happening so you can consider the situation in a more objective way.
Accept and let go
Decide what is outside of your control and accept it. There is no point in continuing to use up your energy trying to control something you have no influence over.
Especially when it comes to other people, everyone has the right to their own opinion or way of doing things. Just because something isn’t done the way you would do it; it doesn’t mean it’s not right, it’s just different.
Make the choice to let go of something you are trying to control that is outside your zone of influence and literally tell yourself to let it go, it’s not your business/choice/responsibility.
Take time out
Do something that relaxes you whether it’s a short meditation, taking a walk, doing exercise, or reading a book, anything that helps you to relax and engage with something else.
Change is guaranteed
Change is one thing in life that’s guaranteed! Make friends with change and recognise that the more flexible you are, the easier it will be for you to ride the wave of life, and ultimately the happier you will be.
“Progress is impossible without change, & those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw