• Does this person keep claiming to know what’s best for you?
• Do you typically have to do things his/her way?
• Is he so domineering that at times you feel suffocated?
• Do you feel like you’re held prisoner to this person’s rigid sense of order?
If you answer “yes” to 1-2 questions, it’s likely you’re dealing with a controller. Responding “yes” to all 3 suggests that a controller is violating our emotional freedom.
Use the following methods from Dr. Orloff’s best-seller, Emotional Freedom, to deal you’re your controller.
Pick Your Battles and Assert Your Needs
1. The secret to success is never try to control a controller
Speak up, but don’t tell them what to do. Be healthily assertive rather than controlling. Stay confident and refuse to play the victim. Most important, always take a consistent, targeted approach. Controllers are always looking for a power struggle, so try not to sweat the small stuff. Focus on high-priority issues that you really care about rather than bickering about putting the cap on the toothpaste.
2. Never make your self-worth dependent on them.
Don’t get caught in the trap of always trying to please your controller. Protect your sensitivity. Refrain from confiding your deepest feelings to someone who won’t cherish them.
3. Try the caring, direct approach
Use this with good friends or others who are responsive to feedback. For instance, if someone dominates conversations, sensitively say, “I appreciate your comments, but I’d like to express my opinions too.” The person may be unaware that he or she is monopolizing the discussion and will gladly change.
4. Set limits
If someone keeps telling you how to deal with something, politely say, “I value your advice, but I really want to work through this myself.” You may need to remind the controller several times, always in a kind, neutral tone. Repetition is key. Don’t expect instant miracles. Since controllers rarely give up easily, be patient. Respectfully reiterating your stance over days or weeks will slowly recondition negative communication patterns and redefine the terms of the relationship. If you reach an impasse, agree to disagree. Then make the subject off limits.
5. Size up the situation
If your boss is a controlling perfectionist--and you choose to stay--don’t keep thinking about what a rotten person he or she is or expect that person to change, Then operate within that reality check. For instance, if your boss instructs you how to complete a project, but you add a few good ideas of your own, realize this may or may not fly. If you non-defensively offer your reasoning about the additions, you’ll be more readily heard. However if your boss responds, “I didn’t say to do this. Please remove it,” you must defer because of the built-in status difference in the relationship. Putting your foot down--trying to control the controller---will only make work more stressful or get you fired.
According to Orloff, people who feel out of control tend to become controllers. Deep down, they’re afraid of falling apart, so they micromanage to bind anxiety. They might have had chaotic childhoods, alcoholic parents, or experienced early abandonment, making it hard to trust or relinquish control to others, or to a higher power. Some controllers have a machismo drive to be top dog in both business and personal matters--a mask for their feelings of inadequacy and lack of inner power. To assert territorial prowess, they may get right up in your face when they talk. Even if you take a few steps away, they’ll inch forward again into your space.
When you mindfully deal with control freaks, you can free yourself from their manipulations. Knowing how they operate will let you choose how to interact with them.
About Judith Orloff
Judith Orloff MD is a psychiatrist, intuitive healer, and NY Times bestselling author. Her latest national bestseller is The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life (Harmony Books, 2014). Dr. Orloff's other bestsellers are Emotional Freedom, Positive Energy, Guide to Intuitive Healing, and Second Sight. To learn more about Dr. Judith Orloff, visit: www.drjudithorloff.com
Til Next Time,