I used to be a control freak.
Everything in my life had to be perfect.
From a young age, I had to be the best pupil in the class at school. If I wasn't getting the best grades then I would worry. The teachers couldn't understand my concerns. It was just me being me.
I remember when I took a beauty therapy course in my mid twenties. The director of the school told me she was concerned because I was getting 100% on every test.
She was concerned because, “These marks can only go down, not up!” These words have come to mean so much more to me.
I was so concerned with appearing perfect that the only way I could go was down. And I did. When I turned 40. Right to rock bottom.
I was married with three young children at the time. Everything is my life was controlled and not just by me. My husband was quite controlling. I don't think he meant to be, it was just who he was, something he had learned.
My house looked perfect, my family looked perfect, I looked perfect — but perfection isn't sustainable or even attainable.
I thought I was happy, but then I met someone who showed me that how I was living wasn't great. I slowly began to realize that I needed to make massive changes.
It became clear that the pursuit of perfection was going to be never-ending, and I decided to jump off in an explosive fashion. I did something to make myself imperfect. Something morally wrong. It was the best thing I ever did.
Now I was imperfect, and it was ok. Bad stuff ensued, and a nasty divorce from a controlling, bitter husband dragged me to the lowest place I'd ever been to in my life. It was the making of me.
Now I am perfectly imperfect, and it works perfectly.
I no longer have to control anything.
I have learned that you can't control what anybody else says or does, you can only control how you react. My reaction is always kindness and understanding, and life is so much more peaceful.
I do not fight others' opinions or tell them what to do with their lives. I live as I do, and if people want to follow my example then good for them. Nothing anybody else says or does can get to me now I no longer feel the need to control.
Is there someone in your life who is like the former me — someone who needs to control everything in order to feel validated and secure?
Here are 10 ways to deal with a control freak without losing control:
1. Smile and maintain your calm.
When someone is demanding that you do something that they want you to do, just smile, and do what YOU want to do.
Stay calm and never try to argue with a control freak. They will always want to have the last word.
It's energy draining, and you don't need your inner calm disturbed. It's hard to stay calm at first, but once you've mastered it, the controlling behaviors just roll off you like water off a duck's back.
2. Do not try to control the controller.
It won't get you anywhere if you try and control the controller. They are in their own world where they are the boss of everything.
They can never do any wrong in their eyes. They have probably never failed at anything because they only do things that they know that cannot fail at. Otherwise their control is threatened.
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You can't win with a controller because they are hypocritical. It's ok for them to do something, but if you do it, you are bad or wrong. Always! You are damned if you do and damned if you don't.
It's not worth trying to do the “right” thing, as they will always find something wrong. So just do what makes you happy and go back to step one: smile and remain calm.
Related Post: The Hidden Side of Controlling Behavior
3. Hold a mirror to their nasty comments.
Control freaks can be quite abusive in various forms. They may call you names and tell you what they think all your shortcomings are.
You have to understand that this is their truth. They really think these things about you. They may not be true to you, but they are to them. So you need to believe in yourself, love yourself, and stay strong.
I started holding a virtual mirror up to nasty comments when I was receiving them. If you believe that the control freak is talking about themselves rather than you, the results are brilliant.
Soon after I started using this tool, I could see that everything that was said about me was actually true of the controller. It's very liberating.
You might even tell the control freak that you are holding a mirror to their comments. This may stop the abuse, as they are not getting the desired result, which is to make you feel bullied, worthless, and insecure.
4. Stay away.
Keep as much distance between you and the controller as possible.
It may be hard if they are a family member, but busy yourself with your own life and loves and come into contact with them as little as can be managed.
This will result in a wave of calm and peace in your life.
If you choose to be near this person, then you can't really play the victim, as nobody is forcing you to do it.
Your control freak could be a longstanding friend, but it doesn't mean you have to be loyal and keep the friendship going. If it isn't serving you, then make less frequent arrangements with this person, and let the friendship dwindle out.
Or go full on and terminate it straight away, but in a kind way. You can refuse to make a date to see them, and tell them that you are busy with a personal project. Then go and find a personal project that will serve you more than spending time with somebody who is draining you.
5. Be kind and praise the controller.
Always be kind. These people need more love than others. They aren't happy inside, so they have to control everything they can to maintain their version of happiness.
I don't mean you have to please them by doing what they say. I mean give them compliments so they feel better about themselves and maybe loosen their need to control a little.
Kindness works wonders. If you fight them, then they'll try to control you even more.
If you are always kind, they lose their ability to make you lose your control so that they can exert theirs.
6. Become uncontrollable.
Take responsibility for your own life.
Do a job you love, surround yourself with people who inspire you and don't drain you.
The quicker you do this, the quicker you will see how sad, and probably lonely, the control freak is.
They will be surrounded by similar people, and you will be surrounded by great ones who show you how insignificant these control freaks are.
7. Look for the positives.
There are always positives to find in any situation. I've always been an optimist, but for the last few years I have been super-positive.
For example, at the very least, a control freak is showing you how you never want to be. They are doing you a favor.
Take the bull by the horns and find your power to live fully, even if it has been hidden for a while.
Another great positive is that a control freak does not have the power to get inside your head and make you feel controlled. You are doing that all by yourself. So it's a simple choice: choose to feel controlled or not.
If someone is financially controlling you, go and get a job and make your own money. Problem solved. Anything is possible.
8. Don't try to please them.
As I mentioned before, praise the controller, but don't try and please them. You will never win.
Always choose to please yourself. Don't deliberately try to annoy them, but don't be submissive.
9. Don't let them make you feel bad.
You control how you feel. Nobody else. You are enough as you are. Authentic, real, beautiful you.
Believe in yourself, and adamantly refuse to take any notice of what they are saying about you.
I've been called all sorts of names but was strong enough not to let any of them get to me or, more importantly, believe that these names defined me.
These controlling people want you to feel bad about yourself, so they can feel better about themselves. More than likely, they are jealous of you and your life.
10. Choose to forgive.
To forgive those who do wrong against us is an amazing, empowering thing to do.
The person who is trying to control you may not have much love in their life. More than likely, they have been controlled themselves and are just following learned behavior.
It is what it is. They do not know any better. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Just be kind, be strong, and be you. You can't go far wrong.
When someone is nasty to you, it probably stems from jealousy. When people are jealous of you, then you are usually doing something right. Keep going. Don't let anyone drag you down.
As motivational speaker and author Josh Shipp says,”You either get bitter or you get better. It's that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate. It belongs to you.”
Natalie Musaphia is a happiness coach, speaker, and writer from Essex, England. She is a mother of three children. She has a Facebook page called na:mu where she posts her blogs and motivational quotes to promote happiness, kindness and positivity. She is creating a ripple effect with her acts of kindness and is busy being the change she wishes to see in the world.