All change starts with awareness. You have to ask yourself: Is this a situation where control is necessary? Is it absolutely crucial that I dictate every action that takes place, my own and others?
Most often that answer is a solid “No.”
Emergencies are one thing. Run-of-the-mill situations are something else entirely.
To stop controlling others, you first need to ask yourself if you even know that you are controlling people.
This seems silly, but it’s quite common. We are social creatures who were raised by people with their own personalities and flaws. Sometimes, we learn tolerant, adaptive behavior, and other times we don’t even have the words to describe our behavior and emotions. What kind of household did you grow up in? Was it one that talked about control and power dynamics?
And to stop controlling others, you also have to consider the feeling of being controlled by others.
What does it feel like? Do you always know when it’s happening? How do you respond? Do you immediately accept it, or do you push back? Your answers to these questions will tell you a lot about your upbringing and the way that you view the world.
Finally, you have to try something new.
If you’re not getting the results you want from a command-and-control strategy, you need to–wait for it–change your strategy.
Why is this so hard for so many people to do, myself included? It’s because change is hard. It’s why humans attempt to control others in the first place. We want to feel that we are safe in our environment and that our world is predictable. This couldn’t be further from the truth, but the illusion of control can be a soothing lie.
Trying something new is the only way to get different results. Do whatever you need to do to find your new actions. Document all the situations in which you control others and in which you are controlled. Does controlling others work 50% of the time? How about even 10% of the time? Once you have some data, you have a reason to start down a different path.
It’s tempting to want to control others. It’s tempting to want to control anything.
And it usually does not work.
Because if we could immediately control how we think, act, and feel, we wouldn’t need to learn about mental health in the first place.
I hope this issue helped you. I hope it gave you some food for thought. Control isn’t automatically a bad thing. It’s just important to be discerning about when and how you use it.
My first book, In Search of Happiness, will be available to purchase next week! It’s been a long time coming, and I’m so happy with how it all turned out. Mental Health Update members
get a huge discount and will be the first to know when it’s available.