Do you have a desire to control every aspect of your life? If yes, then you are a control addict. Control addiction is the most destructive addiction no one is talking about.
I am a recovering control addict.
I have vivid memories from childhood being incredibly anxious and given the same advice by multiple teachers — “You need to let go”.
I had no idea what that meant, and it only became evident in the last three years. As I head towards the milestone of turning 40 this year, it has been my most outstanding achievement to encode what letting go of control addiction truly means.
I have shifted from a tense and controlling A-type to one of mental agility, calm and acceptance. Don’t get me wrong, I am still fully A type, but I have softened from my tightly wound mould.
It has been a journey to get to this point, and there are many days I fall off the wagon.
If you find yourself feeling stuck, anxious and overwhelmed by the perceived lack of control you have over your days, then I encourage you to read on.
WHAT IS YOUR CONTROL ADDICTION DEVICE?
Personal development expert, Tony Robbins, outlines six human needs that fundamentally affect how we make choices. Each of us prioritizes our needs differently, and we base our decisions on which needs we put first.
One of these needs is certainty. Robbins defines it as the assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure.
My control addiction was – to create certainty in my life was my routine.
Being an A-type personality, I like structure in my day, and I am incredibly self-disciplined. My routine gave me the predictability I needed, especially in the chaos of Covid.
This didn’t turn out too well when I had efficiently mapped out my calendar with the kid’s school timetable and extra murals, and then suddenly, it was turned on its head when home-schooling became a reality.
My daily mantra was “but I should do this task at this time, and you should be doing X”. I was so frustrated and angry at how my perfect plan was not being executed, and I felt like I had lost all control of my world.
As a result, this played out in me snapping at my family and not being the most pleasant human to be around, if I’m honest. That’s how control addiction affects you.
I had to replace should be with acceptance. My new mantra became ‘The situation is what it is and I cannot change it’.
I had to let go of thinking I could complete every task on my success list (I do not believe in to-do lists) and instead aim for daily doses of progress.
I had to accept that I could only get through maybe two or three big priorities in a day, and that was ok. The question that enabled me to make this shift was:
“How do you want your kids and family to remember you during this time?”
It was a punch to the throat and a severe reality check.
I didn’t want them to remember me uneasy and make them feel like an interruption and burden to my day. I wanted them to feel supported, calm and loved.
It wasn’t easy to magically make this mental shift, but I had a choice in the matter.