Dealing with a Control Freak … and Learning Where It All Comes from
So you think someone is a control freak. Congratulation, you are probably mistaken. Very often people put the label of 'control freaks' on those who are stubborn or simply too bossy.
However, this is not quite true, as a control freak is a person with a strong need of having control over every single aspect of their life and processes they are involved in.
How to recognize a control freak? Usually, it is a person in charge or the one that has to handle multiple things, giving constant advice, with high demand and expectations. Another striking feature is a need to account every single minute, so they have schedules so tight, you sometimes wonder when they breathe. They have their own way of doing things and never except anything else. Such people have a great problem with trusting other people, sharing or delegating work or even being truly close to someone.
In extremely rare cases, we are talking about control freak personality disorder, a mental condition when the need for control rises to the level similar to OCD.
You may have to deal with this type of people during your education or at the workplace, or if you are unlucky, in your family or in a relationship. We are going to cover certain important things you need to remember while dealing with a control freak (or someone you suspect to be the one).
Understand the need for control
It is important to understand the control freak psychology. In the vast majority of cases, their desperate need for control comes from the anxiety they experience and cannot cope with.
- What makes someone a control freak? Very often person turns into a control freak while they lose the life-control and experience prolonged uncertainty. Another reason could be the experience of an abusive relationship (as one may have to begin control over their lives)
- see if they need professional help. If you are stuck in a relationship and you really care about someone, make sure they can deal with this and won’t need any help (maybe a consultation with a psychiatrist could help)
- understand how they affect others. It is extremely important to understand what effect such people can have on others and stop protecting control freaks
- don’t get fooled. You have to remember that even the nicest person can be controlling, but they are smart about the way they do this (which often includes manipulation)
- understand that your self-esteem is not based on this person. The way they treat you does not define who you are.
Be Constructive in the Way You Respond
It’s is pretty hard to control the control freak behavior, however, you can plan your own reaction to it.
- Assert yourself. Make sure to approach them in private and explain the fact you do not like being treated this way. Don’t insult the controlling person, try to focus on the way it affects you and hurts your feelings.
- Remain calm. It will be hard, but it the only way you’ll get a chance to explain yourself and won’t provoke other attacks.
- Avoid if possible or limit the contact. If the previous two things didn’t work out, try to reduce the amount of time spent with this person or avoid it at all costs.
- Monitor the anxiety level and create patterns. If there is no way you can avoid a control freak, try to understand their routine; what makes them freak out, what irritates them and try to work with that.
- Look for the silver lining. While you think this is impossible, control freaks can sometimes be great in specific areas; they are responsible and tend to bring a lot of business to the company. Try to look for something positive.
- Praise when deserved. If you are working with a control freak, try to praise them when they are performing well or come up with a good idea. This will help you ease the tension.
- Understand that your voice may not be heard
Understand the Tendencies
- What is your part in this situation? It’s a common knowledge that control freaks in relationships are looking for someone they can easily control, someone who is submissive enough. So if you let them of this to you?
- consider your own bossiness. Ask people in your life if you express any business yourself, take a close look at your life and make sure you are not doing the same thing to people around you.
- do a self-SWOT analysis. If you are confused and feel you can’t be honest, create a strength/weaknesses analysis of yourself and the person you are dealing with. This may help you find the reasons behind this situation.
Refuse to change yourself
- Your life matters. You don’t have to be controlled; neither do you have to deal with this type of people.
- Forgive and learn your lesson. One of the hardest things is to learn to forgive without forgetting. This is a tricky thing as you need to learn your life lesson.
- Build-up your confidence. In some extreme cases, take your time and learn to see the value in yourself, be proud of yourself.
- Plan your next move. No matter whether this is work or romantic relationship you got involved, you have to have a backup plan and have the chance to leave, if you don’t think this is going to work out.
It is important to remember that you are not less worthy, so don’t let anyone take advantage of you, talk you down or ruin your self-esteem.
Personal experience: I grew up living with my Mom, who was an elementary school teacher and was used to controlling everything and everyone. In university, my dean was the person who had to control every single person (I still remember she seemed to know who’s dating someone from other college or the faculty she didn't approve). One day I bought myself turning into a control freak myself. I was scared, insecure and trying to piece my life together even though it kept falling apart. I’m grateful to my significant other, who taught me the value of who I am. He taught me to leave when I’m not treated respectfully, taught me to trust and delegate. It is still hard, sometimes overwhelming and embarrassing, but every time I see his smile, I know why I am doing this.
Are you a control freak? Have you met anyone like that? Do you have anything to add to my article?