Monday, June 10, 2013

The Need To Control

Ah, the need to control...

A person who feels the need to control often feels s/he must micromanage the actions and behaviors of others. This kind of person must have control of situations at all times because s/he believes that no one can do things better. "I don't want to look bad" is a common retort when such a person operates.

It runs much deeper than just "looking bad" in front of others. The need to control is a reaction to fear. "Looking bad" translates to a fear of failing. Other fears that contribute to control issues include losing one's self-esteem, losing a loved one, being blamed, suffering emotional break-ups and other painful feelings caused by traumatic experiences. Such fears cause a person to crave control in an unhealthy manner.

Control issues can lead to a host of health problems. Physically, worry and anxiety deteriorate the body's ability to function properly. Continued worry/anxiety can lead to stress and depression.  Since people with control issues are riddled with fears and insecurities, they demand perfection and are never satisfied. Worrying seems to be a constant state of mind. It snowballs from there because they fear being at the mercy of others. do you deal with someone who has control issues?

First, understand that the person with the issue is terrified of failure. This is a disorder that stems from childhood and it can cause misery in the workplace and at home. This person is unhappy and insecure and does not understand that his or her words and actions affect others. This understanding will help you to cope.

Second, remain calm in your dealings with the person with control issues. Getting angry will not work. In fact, it may inflame the situation, especially if the person is prone to violence. If this is the case, you may need to protect yourself by leaving the relationship. Sometimes it seems there is no pleasing a person with control issues. This person will criticize everything you do, trying to make you feel inadequate and insecure. Taking it personally allows the person to control you. Avoid this. The worst thing you can do is to fight that person. It's a waste of time and energy because the person is not going to change without help. Realize it is their deep-seated problem, not yours. When you remember this, you gain back your control.

Third, become aware of the person's moods. This kind of person has no coping skills when stressed. This is when s/he will lash out.  The controlling individual feels no one can do a better job than him/her and takes on too much too fast; s/he gets bogged down and then strikes. Rather than finding ways to cope, this person unleashes his or her wrath on unsuspecting people. Be alert. And be ready.

Fourth, remain in control of you. Be kind to yourself. If you are under the thumb of a controlling individual, s/he may try to convince you that you are worthless and try to stop you from realizing your goals and living your dreams to prevent you from moving on in your life. Ugly things will be said. Again, don't buy into these ideas. Everything is said and done out of fear rather than love. Remaining consistently calm within yourself will help you to weather the storm.

Fifth, realize you may need to make changes. If you work for someone with control issues, you may consider looking for a new job. If you are in a controlling relationship, you may need to say goodbye if that person doesn't agree to go for help. If a family member is controlling, you may need to interact with that person on a less frequent basis.

It is not easy to deal with an individual suffering from such a personality disorder. The important thing is to recognize the underlying factors of his or her behavior. Having this understanding helps you to avoid falling into the trap of abuse often imposed by such individuals. You may need to make some changes in order to protect yourself, but at least you will know that their suffering is self-inflicted and not because of you. Choose to forgive such individuals because they truly do not know what they do.


  1. Great post, Penny. Thank you.

    I think the best advice you listed was to not take it personally and to get out of the relationship quickly.

    Life is too short and too important to be miserable.



    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Kathy. Why be miserable when we have the power within us to change our situation? :-)