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Seeking Passion in Your Life? First Step: Simplify.

Seeking Passion in Your Life? First Step: Simplify.

Passions can be elusive playmates. While some people seem to be born knowing what they want, some of us have to try everything out first to see if it fits. I know people who set their course for their dream job as soon as they could talk. And, then there are others who have no clue what they want to do when the grow up—even when they grow up. I fell into this late-bloomer category and followed a career for security reasons over life passion. I did this because I discovered I wasn’t living my passion after I was already in a cushy career. Breaking out of the rat race after getting comfortable there isn’t easy. But, staying in a job once I knew my true calling was worse. It led to burnout after ten years. Take it from me, you can earn a living following your heart. Don’t sacrifice your passions for a paycheck.

What about you? Are you following your fire within? If not, how do you find it? In my experience, you have to simply your life and let go!

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Let Go of the Stuff

The main reason I felt the need to continue in a career that I didn’t love is because I had a huge mortgage and a lot of stuff to manage; I knew I had to make X amount per year to feed our hungry budget. There wasn’t any way I could do that immediately by following my writing dream. So, my consumerism trapped me by plugging my ears to my inner heart cry.

When I sold the stuff, all of the pressure to make my current salary went with it. I was finally free of a cage that I didn’t realize I was contained in until it was gone. I realize this is a drastic move, and I’m not advocating you sell everything—unless it’s exactly what you need.

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Let Go of Your Need for Security

One reason I kept working for others doing something I didn’t enjoy was that I craved security. In my job, I always knew how much I would make. I had a company car and an amazing health care plan. Now, I no longer have those things. There are certainly sacrifices along the way, yet the peace found in pursuing my passion far outweighs my lack of company benefits and salary.

Is there a passion burning within, but you are afraid to follow it? I understand! It took me almost ten years to get up the courage, but every day you spend not doing what you love because of fear will cause you regret later. It’s just more of your life invested in surviving vs. living.

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Let Go of the Expectations

I always felt that to be successful, I needed to make an amazing salary. I thought that was the best way to measure success. I also stayed in a steady job because I felt that was what others expected from me. I was trying to fit into a mold, even though I wasn’t the author of it. I no longer feel that way. Chasing money over passion creates emptiness: If the money comes from pursing my passion, so much the better, but if it doesn’t, I am still doing what I love. An extra two thousand square feet in a house and a slightly nicer car aren’t worth the burn out.

Are you working in a role because you feel it meets others expectations for you? Maybe it’s time to have a talk about what you really want out of life. While I’m not advocating ignoring responsibilities or leaping off a ledge without a plan in place, it’s also ridiculous to ignore the proactive steps needed to break into your area of interest eventually. You may not have the luxury of leaving your job right away. But, even tiny daily steps such as researching opportunities, training options, and talking with others in your desired field will move you toward a happier future.

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Letting Go of the Job = Self Worth Mentality

You are so much more than your business card. In our culture, most people define their worth by a fancy job title. For years, I was trapped in this mindset: I wanted to see how much money I could make and how many promotions I could get, because somehow I felt this would mean I was worth more as a person. If others saw my value and paid me for it, then it was a justification of my merit. At the time, I placed success in my job on such a pedestal that I unknowingly was sacrificing my relationships, my health, and my marriage.

Now, I measure my self worth differently. I ask myself hard questions daily, such as: Am I doing what I love? Am I giving my best in all areas of life? At the end of my life, will I have regrets? Am I valuing people or possessions? Am I helping others? Am I leaving a legacy? If today were my last day of life, would I be happy with how I spent it? Living in this mindset brings me peace and shows me that I don’t need a massive salary or job title to be valued or happy.

Let Go of  the Rat Race

Often, work creates a lot of distractions that prevent you from deeper emotional digging. I found that when I was working, the mental endurance needed to do my job left me too exhausted to entertain other possibilities. I was so absorbed in my work, I didn’t take time to evaluate my life. While I took a drastic step and left my job, anyone can take a few days off to devote to some self exploration. Go somewhere quiet and peaceful for a few days. Consider what you value and if it aligns with how you currently spend your time. It’s empowering when you finally decide to quit the martyrdom and embrace what excites you.

If you aren’t following your life longings currently, deep down you already know it. While it is scary to let go, it is even scarier to give your years to something that you dread doing. So many people just slog through their days and live for the weekends. That’s not the way I want to spend my time! Simplify your life, remove the noise that’s drowning out your inner voice, and discover your passion. You will often find you can make an amazing living, and an even more amazing life, doing what you love.

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Sarah Hansen

A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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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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