I hate mayonnaise! I didn’t eat a taco or even touch a salad until I was 16. My mom had the hardest time trying to cook anything that I would eat growing up.
It’s one of the few things I could control as a kid, what I put into my mouth. What I couldn’t control was that people who are supposed to love me (like my dad), sometimes abandon you, physically and emotionally.
As a kid, my automatic reaction was to figure out how to avoid having that happen, EVER again. Having control, I thought gave me safety from others who I couldn’t rely on. No reliance meant no danger.
I sought “safety” in two ways:
1. I controlled myself so I was never too much or too little of anything like a hyper vigilant drill sergeant. This way no one would get disappointed in me and leave.
2. Like a candidate running for a hotly debated political office, I did anything to control and manage others’ perception of me. This way everybody would like me a little, which felt safe, but I would never get too close, that way it wouldn’t hurt as bad if they left.
I didn’t always know I was such a CONTROL FREAK, but I am! I control myself mostly by trying to be perfect at everything I do, shutting down my needs, trying to be the nicest, most accommodating person I can be.
While controlling yourself and others may give an illusion of safety, it is debilitating to the one who attempts this un-winnable game. After all, control is an illusion. We don’t really control anything, how long we live, where we are born, what people think, if we lose a job or get a job, when our loved ones are lost, what we pay for gas, what the weather is, etc.
Being a control freak costs you Connection. When you are too afraid to open your heart to others, you are left lonely and disconnected. Connection happens in the heart and its not possible when you have a brick wall of control surrounding yours. And I’m not just talking about friends and strangers, if you are doing this, it has impact on all of your relationships, spouse, children and family.
Being a control freak costs you Freedom. When you are constantly controlling and managing yourself based on how you think you should be, you’ve locked yourself in your own personal prison. If you’re choice is always informed by managing other people’s perceptions or the critical voice inside of you that tells you how you SHOULD act at all times, you are completely powerless to choose for you.
So many of us have run to control to feel safe and be happy yet it has created one of the biggest obstacles to personal fulfillment.
Here are some practices to support you in loosening the grip of control.
1. The path to breaking free from your own prison, is first noticing that you are in a prison.
2. Notice everywhere and everything you try to control.
3. Notice all the ways you manage and shut off your opinions or emotions.
4. Notice sacrificing yourself for other’s benefit.
5. Notice your reaction when you don’t get what you want, aka: loss of control.
6. If you need additional support, consider checking out Adult Children of Alcoholic’s 12 step program, also for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families. http://www.adultchildren.org