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Is Your Controlling Behaviour Masking Your Fear?

Is Your Controlling Behaviour Masking Your Fear?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

  1. Reflect on yourself and your actions and be honest, are you over controlling in an area?
  2. Ask yourself why? (don’t tell yourself you don’t know, because that’s never true)
  3. 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!”

 

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Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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