If you are addicted to control you are probably trying to control everything and everyone in your life. You want things to go your way. Throw in the addiction part, and you need things to go your way. Your need to control feels desperate to you. Why? Because when you lose control, you suffer with anxiety.
Before we talk about anxiety, let’s paint a better picture of the control addicts in our lives.
Control addicts have problems in their relationships. They are the people who throw out the gauntlet of “my way or the highway”, and while we may feel they make our lives miserable for treating us this way, they can’t be feeling so great themselves.
They are the “right” fighters, as in, I’m always “right” and you’re always “wrong”.
Control addicts can come off as “righteous”. They know what is morally right and virtuous, and if you don’t have the same beliefs as them or act, as they believe you should act, you’re in the wrong.
Their thinking is usually very black and white. They don’t feel comfortable operating in the gray zone where there are different ways to solve a problem. In their eyes, the solution is as obvious as if it were black or white, and it’s not up for discussion!
Severe anxiety can overwhelm its sufferers with feelings of fear to the point of panic…talk about feeling out-of-control!
Have you ever know a control addict who felt miserable for having to live this way? Have you witnessed evidence of their anxiety in other areas of their lives?
The truth is, these people are just trying to survive and get by like all the rest of us. This just happens to be their malady. So, even if they make you crazy and piss you off, show them some understanding.
I talked about letting go of control on my radio show where I shared excerpts from James Callner’s writings. Mr. Callner is President of The Awareness Foundation for OCD, afocd.org.
He’s a guy who really understands that his need for control is based in anxiety. He writes about how a psychiatric hospitalization for OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, “brought the underlying control patterns in my life and personality to the forefront, smacking me head on and saying”, “Hey, Jim, you better work on this control stuff if you want to feel good about yourself, want to maintain a relationship, want to have more peace and less anger, and want to live a truly balanced life rather than a “righteous” or constricted one of black and white”.
He wrote of how he had to learn to surrender to “feeling the feelings” and do nothing but feel them until the energy of the anxiety passed through. He wrote how this was not easy and took a lot of practice. He wrote that there were days “ just spent sweating through it (the anxiety)” where the slogan “progress not perfection” had meaning for the process he had committed to.
Hearing directly from Jim helps us understand the plight of those who are addicted to control. If you see patterns of control in others that you know are based in anxiety, show them compassion, and support them in getting help. Their misery for having to live like this most certainly outweighs any frustration you may feel over their controlling ways.
Warning: If you see control in people that stems from meanness and their need for power-over, that type of control is abusive, and that’s a different blog for a different day.
Listen to my podcast, “Addicted to Control, Let Go Of Control” to hear more about Jim’s message.
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