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What You Should Do When Facing Fear

What You Should Do When Facing Fear

As humans, we are each unique. In fact, each one is so unique that we possess our own fingerprints. There is no one just like you.  As humans, we are also very similar: We all experience the same range of emotions. All around this world of ours, joy, sorrow and even fear are shared experiences. You are not alone when facing insurmountable fear. Read below for a few guidelines of what to do when you are gripped by fear.

Define Your Fear

When fear strikes, we often get the “deer in the headlights” syndrome. Fear has a way of paralyzing us. One cannot think clearly while looking through eyes of fear. Many times we avoid situations due to fear, and yet we haven’t even defined what about the situation is causing us to be alarmed. Rudyard Kipling states it well in this quote: “Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.” Next time you are facing a situation and fear moves in, dissect the reason you are afraid.  Don’t turn away from what is happening; instead, expose the reason you are afraid.

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It may surprise you that you were wrong about the real cause of your fear. For example, you may want to make a big change in your life, such as a career switch or relocation, yet you are held back by fear.  Are you afraid of consequences? Are you afraid of others’ reactions to your choices? Are you holding on to fear of the unknown? Once you begin to understand where your emotions are stemming from, you will be able to address them more clearly and move forward.

Look Straight Ahead

When I first began to drive, I was petrified of passing 18-wheeler trucks on the highway. My anxiety would rise when I would come near them. One day while driving with a passenger, he sensed immediately my fear of trucks. A simple sentence he said changed the way I drive, and actually the way I handle fear. He said, “just look ahead, focus on what is in front of you and don’t look at the truck next to you. Simply, look ahead!”

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What a difference it has made when I need to pass trucks; now instead of looking to the right, seeing the truck (my fear), and feeling the nervousness, I simply look straight ahead in my lane. The fear has subsided and my driving has even improved. When facing things that cause you to fear, look straight ahead. Don’t look around at what is causing you to be fearful. Focus ahead, travel on, and conquer your fear.

Stretch Yourself

For you to move beyond your fears, it is vital that you begin to stretch yourself.  Once you know what is causing you to be afraid, you can begin to implement ways to dispel your anxiety. For example, if you are afraid to speak in front of a large group and yet your new position requires this, begin by taking small steps. Join a local organization that trains people to give speeches. Gather a few of your friends and family around and give a speech.  Find ways to move out of your comfort zone and move fearlessly toward freedom. Jack Canfield said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”  This is so true. Who would you be if you let go of your fear?

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Don’t Be Held Back

What fears are holding you back? It is important to understand that whatever you are afraid of holds you captive. You could be experiencing so much more joy, peace and freedom if you tear away from the chains that bind you. You can learn to master the fear that is currently mastering you.

Don’t allow yourself to wallow in anxiety. Rise up and become your own hero and take hold of the reins of your life. This is a simple, yet complex thing to do.  We are creatures of habit, and it seems so much easier to remain in the condition that we are in than to conquer the things in our lives that keep us down.  I promise you though, your life will take on more meaning and possibility than you have ever experienced.  It is so worth it!

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Replace Your Fear

Anytime you are trying to improve an area of your life, remember: One can not just remove a negative factor without replacing it with a positive one.  Those haunting, scary voices that create fear inside your mind need to be replaced with words that chase the fear away.  Our self-talk mandates so much of our day-to-day dealings with the world.  In order to move beyond your fears and limitations, you need to talk to yourself with words of comfort and hope.

After analyzing the reality of your fear, you will be able to speak to those fears and replace them with truth. Replace your fear with an exercise related to your fear and  break free. Whatever it takes, whether it be baby steps,  taking deep breaths, or finding an activity that grows you beyond your fear, do it.  You will be so grateful once you do. You will look back at how limited your life once was, and be able to compare it to your newfound abandon.

This is a short list of things to do when facing fear. I encourage you to take action today!  Don’t wait any longer. Don’t allow fear to control your life one more moment. Life passes by at a rapid speed; surely there is much more left to experience if you are brave enough to slay the giants in your life.

Featured photo credit: Hartwig HKD via flickr.com

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Charlene Tops

Charlene is a certified life coach who is passionate about writing, speaking and teaching.

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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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