According to an article by Erin L. Olivo, PhD, Asst. Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, “In order to change any behavior, you have to recognize that you’re doing it. Becoming a more mindful witness to your own behavior is the first step to making any behavioral change.”
2. Understand your emotions
Identifying what emotions, feelings and fears are driving your controlling behavior is a crucial second step. This will help you understand the underlying reasons. Sharon Martin writes “Start by asking yourself: What fears are driving my controlling behavior? When emotions are high, they can distort our thoughts.” But you also need to ask yourself if these fears are “rational.”
Asst. Professor Erin L. Olivo, PhD, explains “In order to change your behavior, you have to identify which emotion you’re struggling with. The emotion usually behind controlling behavior is fear. In order to feel less fearful and more in control, you try controlling everything around you.” Simply by understanding our fears and emotions, we can make it weaker and start changing our behavior.
3. Change your thought patterns
After you have identified your fears, you need to change your “fear-based thinking” with “calmer, more grounded thoughts,” believes Sharon. Challenging your thoughts and fears “can help you expand your thoughts,” she says.
Moreover, “Often realizing that you’re using emotional reasoning instead of logical reasoning can change your perspective, reduce the intensity of the emotion you’re feeling and help you resist the urge to engage in a controlling behavior,” adds Erin.
4. Surrender and accept
Unconditional acceptance is the key to giving up control. It is perhaps the hardest thing you will ever do, but it will bring you infinite inner peace and joy. According to an article by Christine Carter, Ph.D., author and senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center, “The opposite of perfectionism is acceptance. Not resignation, but surrender…to whatever is happening in the present moment.”
She adds “You may have heard the truism that what we resist, persists… Perfectionism is a form of resistance to whatever is actually happening in the present moment. At its foundation, it is a rejection of the current reality.” Studies reveal that resistance leads to stress and anxiety while self-compassion and acceptance leads to happiness. Christine adds “Behavioral science and great wisdom traditions both point us towards acceptance. It is strangely effective to simply accept that which we cannot control, especially if we are in a difficult or painful situation.”
Sharon Martin explains “Acceptance means that we distinguish what’s in our control and what’s not and stop giving unwanted advice and pushing situations to be something they aren’t.” she further writes “Part of acceptance is acknowledging that none of us are perfect – we make mistakes, forget things, make poor decisions, and so on.”
Control yourself & let go
Being controlling is not a terrible thing to do. Having signs of a control freak doesn’t necessarily make you evil. We should all take charge of our lives and take initiative to come up with solutions to steer our lives and take our business forward. We should also step up to help those in need and motivate others to move ahead.
But when our intention to control and take charge is based on fear and self-centered reasons, we need to take notice and practice acceptance and compassion.
Author Christine Carter, Ph.D. concludes “Trust that if I’m still here, still breathing, everything is okay. Trust that even if I don’t give specific instructions, if I back off from trying to control everyone and everything, life will continue to unfold just as it’s meant to.”
Want more? Read 6 Science Based Tips To Control Your Emotions
Here’s an interesting video on letting go that you may find helpful: