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Five Ways To Tell If You Are A Control Freak

Five Ways To Tell If You Are A Control Freak

If you are a control freak, raise your hand.  

I raised my hand a few years ago when my therapist pointed it out.  I was going on and on about how something wasn't going my way.  She smirked and asked, "why are you trying to control the situation?"  No one had ever asked me that before, nor had they told me I was controlling (I take that back - I'm sure someone did, but I was too stubborn to admit it), and yet here it was smacking me in the face.  

After that session, I spent a lot of time identifying the controlling tendencies that I have.  I don't always catch them and I am still reluctant to admit it when I'm being controlling, but I have to face facts: I'm controlling.  I'm someone that can be described as "tightly wound" about many things.  I like process and plans and goals and lists.  I am someone that sees how a day is supposed to go in my head and then set about making that vision a reality.  (Yea, I'm a real "dream" on vacation with my to-do lists and itineraries...)  I've also spent time thinking about why I'm like this.  I think it's because I thrive off of feeling productive, and productivity for me has manifested itself in ticking things off my lists.  Be it a daily list or a life goal list, trust me - there is a list for everything.  And sticking with that list is something that helps me feel balanced.  I'll admit - I don't do well with change or unexpected adjustments in a schedule or unplanned life events.  Up until the age of 30, life sort of sailed along smoothly with me just following one to-do item after another until I achieved whatever it was I set out to achieve - be it a Saturday afternoon of errands or a plan to meet a personal goal.  It was as if the more control I felt over my schedule or time or my life, the more I felt like everything was OK.  After 30 - BOOM - life started handing me card after card in a deck that seemed stacked against me. For the first time in my life I felt out of control, and more often than not I felt like I was spinning.  In the last few years I've gained my footing with a different perspective on what I can and cannot control and have had some reality checks which I'm grateful for.  But at the end of the day, I have not completely shaken my controlling ways. Relaxed them? Yes. Eliminated them? Nope.

Of all the arguments that my husband and I have had, about half of them have something to do with me being controlling.  I usually get defensive about it (which is another way of controlling the narrative), and we just go round and round until one or the both of us gets tired of it and then it's done.  I have to say - my controlling tendencies give me the most grief in my marriage. In other spaces of my life, they have served me well, but in my marriage, they cause tension. I'm so used to doing things my way that making room for a different view point has been a struggle. We've both tripped over our own feet a few times dealing with this.  For instance, I've definitely been the wife that will feel anxious if he says he will be home at 6 and he shows up at 6:45.  I may or may not have met him at the door in full-on interrogation mode when this has happened which is totally ridiculous I can now admit.  He ends up feeling like he is being controlled and I end up feeling like I've lost control of the schedule as I saw it in my head.  I know, I know...it's a mess - I'm a mess.  But at least I'm admitting it and doing everything I can to be conscious of this shortcoming so that it doesn't cause any real issues.  

So how can you tell if you are a control freak?  I may not have all the answers, but here are five hints that you may be a little freakish.  I am even guilty of some of these:

1) You see things differently and then directly or indirectly try to affect change.

2) You like to be "right" all.the.time.

3) You have a tendency to over-plan and be hyper-committed to your own processes/routines.

4) You feel the need to give out unsolicited constructive feedback.

5) You get irritable when people arrive late or events don't go as planned.

Here's the thing - there is nothing wrong with being a control freak.  It can, however, cause issues if your controlling nature creates conflict.  So my advice?  Own who you are and why you are that way, and if you feel the need to make adjustments, then do that.

Photo Credit: Kevar Whilby

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