At some point in your life, you have felt controlled by another person or event. Growing up, I witnessed some people passively going along with the controlling actions of others. I knew it could be different. I tried to change the situation, which left me exhausted, upset and reactive. I did what many well-meaning helpers do; I tried to control the control. As you guessed it, it did not help at all.
As I grew into mid-life, I learned how to detach and speak up for myself with assertiveness training. This doesn’t mean I let go perfectly. I have moments of stress, anger and fear. The difference is I visit these emotional states but I do not live in them. I do not allow a controlling person or situation to take up space in my head for too long. You can learn how to live in peace and happiness, despite what others do or do not do.
Are you victorious or a victim?
The decision to be controlled lies within each one of us, you can choose to be victorious or a victim. In the most dire of situations; prison camps, slavery, illness, politics, natural disasters, abuse etc. people have chosen to keep their thoughts positive and hopeful. No matter what situation you are facing, you can learn how to let go of controlling behaviors.
How to Stand in Your Power:
“Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket – keep it in your own.”- Elizabeth Gilbert (Author; Eat, Pray, Love)
1.) Avoid Reacting. The controlling person wants a reaction, do not give her one. She is trying to get into your head and have the upper hand. You cannot control what another person does, but you can choose your response. To be truly empowered is to learn how to stand, breath and pause when you feel triggered (angry, depressed, guilty, scared or upset). Become neutral, like Spock from Star Trek.
2.) Have Empathy for the Person. Their behavior is not personal. It comes from a deep feeling of insecurity and low self-esteem. People who act controlling may look confident, yet they have a lot of fear. Remember: Understanding them does not excuse unacceptable behavior.
3.) Know Your Boundaries. You deserve to be treated respectfully. Here is a Personal Bill of Rights from The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook. I highly recommend this book if you struggle with anxiety dealing with the world or in relationship with others.
- I have the right to ask for what I want.
- I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can’t meet.
- I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative.
- I have the right to change my mind.
- I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
- I have the right to follow my own standards.
- I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe, or it violates my values.
- I have the right to determine my own priorities.
- I have the right not to be responsible for others’ behavior, actions, feelings, or problems.
- I have the right to expect honesty from others.
- I have the right to be angry at someone I love.
- I have the right to be uniquely myself.
- I have the right to feel scared and say “I’m scared.”
- I have the right to say “I don’t know.”
- I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior.
- I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
- I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.
- I have the right to be playful and frivolous.
- I have the right to be healthier than those around me.
- I have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.
- I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
- I have the right to change and grow.
- I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
- I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
- I have the right to be happy.
4.) Be Clear About Your Limits. Those who control want you to get accustomed to their expectations and way of living, rather than they become flexible by giving and receiving. Where are you going to draw the line? You have the power to decide what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable to you.
5.) Limit Your Time with Them. You need to protect your energy. Make an honest assessment and take a hard look at your life. What is your need to stay or be around this type of energy? Take steps to be around this person less and less.
“No one can control you without your consent.”- Walt Disney (Co-founder; The Walt Disney Company)
Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She specializes in working with professionals who often get drained from their helping efforts, recharge and rejuvenate their energy. Pick up her FREE 10 page E-book 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!
You may also be interested in Lisa’s MP3 meditation Renew and Heal: Releasing the Chaos Meditation.