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Ask Yourself These 6 Questions To Help Clear Your Struggles.

Ask Yourself These 6 Questions To Help Clear Your Struggles.

I don’t care who you are, there are moments in life where you just feel stuck; as though you were never moving in the first place. Those moments can seem to swallow your life and you often find yourself spinning the wheels in your mind trying to get out of that place, only to find yourself digging deeper into the mental mud of misery.

The best thing to do when you are feeling unhealthy, stuck and miserable is to take a moment to ask yourself some honest questions that will help you move forward and get you out of your rut. Here are 6 that should get you moving on the right path:

1.Are you making excuses?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself. Yeah. It is a hard question that can really sting, but if you are serious about getting unstuck in life you have to be brutally honest with yourself right now. You need to let go of the blame and the excuses and realize that your life is your life. You are in control of this and it is your responsibility. No one else is going to live it for you and if it is not what you want, no one else is going to improve it for you. I am not saying that you cannot or should not seek out help or lean on others when you get into a serious funk.

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What I am saying is that you can’t just wallow in your own misery, complaining about how you got a bad lot in life, and how everything is terrible but none of it is your fault. Sure, things outside of our control happen. Maybe it is even true that the reason you are stuck is not entirely your fault, but life’s crap storms happen to everyone. You need to learn how to accept that fact, realize that other people have it a million times worse, and that all change starts inside yourself with a healthy dose of personal responsibility. So drop the excuses, drop the “woe is me” mentality and accept that life is sometimes difficult and full of peaks and chasms, but there is no use feeling sorry for yourself because you hit a trench in your life.

2.How do you talk to yourself?

As you might be able to tell from, my inner voice is usually very demanding. He is like a drill sergeant that does not let me get away with anything, nor does he let me make excuses or feel sorry for myself. There is this notion in personal development that you should always be soft and kind and considerate with yourself. I don’t agree with this. I think that SOMETIMES you should be those things, because we all need a caring voice to comfort us when times are most difficult, but the people who accomplish the most, the people who are healthy, unstuck and moving forward in their lives, are typically motivated by an inner voice that throws some tough love at them most of the time.

You don’t want to go to the gym? Too bad! You are never going to drop those extra pounds by sitting there and binge watching Netflix! You don’t think you have time to make a healthy meal? That is a bunch of BS! Now get in that kitchen and throw together a salad and do it now! Sometimes you have to put yourself in your place and talking to yourself with a firm, disciplined determination is often how you can get unstuck. Just remember there is a fine line between being firm and being mean. Don’t beat yourself. Give yourself the internal motivation to do what you know you need to do to make things better. Accept no excuses and be relentless!

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3.What matters to you?

You need to seriously decide what is important to you in life and act in a way that shows that those things matter, because if those things are truly important, cherishing them and acting in a way that shows their meaning to you is going to make you feel amazing. We all say that friends and family and health and money and whatever are important, but do we always act in a way that highlights their importance? You say you value health, but do you eat healthy? Do you exercise? You say you value family, but do you tell them how much you appreciate them? Do you go out of your way to help them? You can say how much you value things, but if you act in a way contrary to that your mind, and the world, is not going to buy it.

You can say you want to be healthy and that you value your body, but if you are out there eating fast food and not exercising, then I am sorry, you don’t value your health and the guilt and shame you feel because you are acting contrary to what matters to you is going to make you miserable. So decide what matters to you and act in a way that shows that it matters.

4.Who do you want to be right now?

The question about who you are right now doesn’t matter. What matters is asking yourself who you want to be right now. Right now you are unhealthy, stuck and miserable, but who cares? That is obviously not who you want to be, so quit asking yourself who you are right now and starting asking yourself who you want to be right now. The truth is, we create ourselves in every moment. We choose activities that support or erode our self worth and confidence every moment. What you need to do is find someone or something that actively embodies the things that matter to you and choose to be that way until you don’t have a choice.

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You eventually just do it naturally and then that becomes who you are. You want to be happy right now? Then act like you are happy. Watch happy videos. Recall happy moments. Copy happy people. It sounds like new age, personal development crap, but it works. Every time I do it, it never fails me. The brain is easily fooled and I can almost guarantee that you will be happy and your happiness will be as natural as if it were always a part of you.

5.What small things can you change?

Often, when we are feeling stuck and miserable, we think we have to make some epic shifts in our life. Sometimes that is true, and I will discuss that in the last question, but usually great change in life comes from minor, incremental shifts that snowball into enormous, monumental movements.

The key here is to identify the little things you can do to improve the quality of your life right now. Meditate for 5 minutes a day. Eat 100 less calories per day. Take the stairs, instead of the elevator. Write a thank you card to a friend or family member. You get the point. It’s up to you to identify these small changes, but if you make a few of them, and build off of them, you will notice an increase in the small moments of comfort in your life and you will want to add more and more until those small changes add up to big results.

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6.What big thing can you change right now?

While small changes are great and they will add up over time, if you want a quick fix to get unstuck and feeling less miserable immediately, make a big change. The key here is to not make a bunch of big changes as that is often a surefire recipe for failure. So just choose one, realistic, big change you can make and jump in head first. You have to commit to it and just go for it. It will be hard, but you will get an instant burst of confidence and satisfaction that you are doing something to change your life for the better.

I cannot say what a big change is for you, but I can say it should be something realistic, doable and something that truly aligns with the things above that you value from question 3. Take a sudden trip to see a distant relative that you haven’t seen in a long time. Enroll in a night class at a local university. Throw away every bit of junk food in your house. It should be big enough to where it scares you a little, but not so big that you can’t start it right away. The instant gratification of moving towards this big change will result in a sudden shift of your mental state and get you instantly unstuck.

What you need to remember is that these questions can be asked anytime you feel like you are in a rut in your life. Even if you are not stuck, you can use these questions to keep your life moving forward and avoid those seemingly inevitable moments of feeling lost, unmotivated, and miserable. But also remember this, you can ask these questions all you want, but if you don’t do anything with the answers, nothing is going to change. The key to getting unstuck is to be committed and active in pushing yourself out. These questions are fuel, but the heavy lifting is all on you!

Featured photo credit: Victor Cristian Mitroi via Flickr via flickr.com

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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