Control means you like power. Everybody likes power. It is the nature of human relationships to struggle for power at work, at home or with friends. Some people have power in passive aggressive ways; “I’ll smile at you now & undermine you later.” Some people withhold information. Some people blow up to get you to quit talking.

There are millions of ways to have power. Many people use control to reduce their anxiety. If I’m really good at blaming you then I don’t have to feel bad about myself. If I’m really good at making you do things my way then I can feel my fears quiet down.

Did you know there is really only one way to fold towels? Did you know that there is only the right way to load the dishwasher? Anxious people quiet their fears by making sure things happen a certain way. They like order and routine because it is comforting. They micromanage everyone else and are then assured they are right.

I use index cards at work so people leave sessions with simple drawings to explain old behavior (whatever kooky thing we do, it has a purpose) and another drawing to illustrate the opposite energy for possible new behaviors. So here is a drawing I made just last week: Controlling, controlling behavior, controlling behavior, controlling personality, controlling people, change control, controlling men, control freaks, controlling relationships, controlling spouse

This illustrates that the controller needs to consider bringing the energy of controlling others back home to themselves…….So ask yourself two questions: What would that mean? & How would you be different????

In my imagination it would mean being less drunk with certainty & self-righteousness (unlike the current political battles being waged for the presidency). It would mean more openness to compromise & the idea that there are lots of ways to solve problems. It would mean being more flexible.

In a relationship rigidity & certainty can squelch problem solving & negotiating. Then the value of fairness will be ignored. Control means “It’s my way or the highway.” which is embedded with black/white thinking & feeling. The secret to relationships working is both people reaching into the uncertainty & mystery of the grey in between.

Bringing the power back to yourself means getting unstuck from ideas that seem perfect to you. There is no perfect, there really is only all of us stumbling around trying to make sense of things. There is almost always merit to two points of view.

Control is often born in deep seated insecurity. Think of the ugliness dished out over twitter. It’s really a way to make yourself feel bigger because insecurity makes you feel too small.

Erasing the other person with your control means you get stuck instead of growing. Think of reducing your fears & then your need for control as a way to open more doors & windows in a relationship. Uncertainty & exploring new ideas is a gift to your soul.

You really can’t grow & change unless you are willing to learn about yourself from other people.

(Part 2 will be about Ugly Levels of Control)

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About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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