Would you consider yourself a controlling person? Would you say you manage your ‘fears’ or your fears manage you? I’ve worked with tons of people who say fear doesn’t stop them and they don’t let fear influence their life, yet, they are some of the most controlling people I know. Trying to control everything in life is actually a way people manage their fears. So those people think they are managing their fear effectively, but they are actually masking it by trying to control everything.
You can easily separate the two types; just watch when things happen that they have no control over and see how ‘fearful’ they react in that moment. You see people freaking out when they lose control over the outcome of something and you see others that just smile and remain calm; because they have another type of confidence; that whatever happens, out or in their control, it will be ok. No problem becomes bigger than them.
When we fear something or we try to control it, this behavior can take on many forms; and we might think we are managing the situation well, when in fact it could also be detrimental to success and achieving the desired outcome. You see if you don’t realize your need to control is actually fear, you will keep attracting what you fear!
Are You Too Controlling For Your Own Good?
To see the destructive effects of controlling behavior, it’s important to understand why it arises in the first place. The root of controlling behavior is fear; whether it’s the fear of the unknown, or the fear of failure. When we try to micromanage everything in our lives it’s usually because we’re in search of security and certainty.
The spontaneity and uncertainty of real life can be a frightening concept. Because the allure of control is actually an illusion, to strive for control is to set yourself up for endless frustration and disappointment. There is a point in life up to which we cannot control and any attempt to do so; it is not only fruitless but actually silly; because that is one of the laws of life.
Too Controlling Or Just Really Organised?
Don’t fool yourself. There’s a tendency among controlling people to explain their destructive behavior in terms of them simply being highly organized. I used to be one of them in fact, but is this really the case? There’s a fine line between being organized (and prepared for all eventualities) and trying to control every single aspect of your life. While being organized usually leads to productive, efficient and effective actions, being too controlling could have the opposite effect, so it’s important to constantly be aware of which side of things your actions are on.
The Fear And Control Cycle
Fear results in controlling behavior, and when this behavior doesn’t give us the results we’re seeking (which is usually the case), it further intensifies our fears because the results are proof of the uncertain world that we’re so desperately trying to control. This in turn, leads us to even more controlling behavior. This cycle can result in an obsession over the tiniest details and the loss of perspective on the bigger (and more meaningful) picture of what it is that you’re actually trying to achieve, as well as what you really need to do in order to achieve it.
In other words, it leads to misdirected focus and a waste of precious (and limited) resources. Because of this, fear usually leads to a self-fulling prophecy; you end up bringing about the very things that you are so afraid of.
What Are You Really Afraid Of?
Whenever you catch yourself trying to control the outcome of every single experience, ask yourself what it is that you’re truly afraid of. For example, are you really just trying to be a perfectionist or are you afraid of being wrong? Or perhaps you’re scared of taking on a challenge, making a change or taking a risk? Do you try to control aspects in your social life? Always deciding where to go and with you because you even want to control your experiences as much as possible.
Here’s what I would do:
- Reflect on yourself and your actions and be honest, are you over controlling in an area?
- Ask yourself why? (don’t tell yourself you don’t know, because that’s never true)
- Identify your fear/s and put a plan together to overcome them. – stop masking them
Letting yourself become more open to things outside of your control will also leave you more open to exciting new possibilities, opportunities and experiences and most importantly, better results in life! In the words of Doe Zantamata, “Don’t let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen!”