Are You An Accidental Covert Control Freak?

Recently I witnessed a couple of conversations around what “other people” are doing and why it’s so “wrong” that they’re living their lives that way. Having been someone like that myself, and then discovering that this is often a sign of issues around control, I naturally found the discussion interesting and worthy of sharing with you today.

One conversation was about a girl who had un-friended a few of us mutual friends on Facebook. Personally, IDGAF who unfriends me, because chances are, I already unfollowed you due to an overwhelming number of baby and children pics and things that bored the living shit out of me.

Not only that. The concept of getting butt-hurt over such things called “unfriending” and “unfollowing” is mind-blowingly ridiculous. The fact the word unfriend even exists in our vocab is fucked up.

Anyway,

The person conversing with me used the words, “who does she think she is”, “She thinks she’s so much better than us” and that she SHOULDN’T just unfriend us. 

All assumptions. All stories. All pain.

So I was like, well … she can do what she wants, it’s her life. And, by the way, when was the last time YOU actually talked to HER?

The answer was, 14 years ago. 

Well, I hate to be captain obvious, - (that’s a lie, I love being C.O) - but what did you think would eventually happen?

But this post isn’t about that conversation. 

It’s about you and where you’re holding onto beliefs that other people should do things the way you want them to? Sure, you may not be controlling them per se, but boy, the fact that they’re not doing things the way you want them to, is triggering you, isn’t it? And if you could control their actions - if you could make them apologize for unfriending you, or admit they thought they were better than you, you’d give it a good try, wouldn’t you? An Accidental, Covert, Control Freak. 

It’s ok. I’m a recovering ACCF, too.

I overheard another conversation about someone’s brother who “doesn’t make an effort to visit” and it’s “the wife’s fault”. Now, these people have been married for something like 20+ years and I can only assume by now that the husband is pretty comfortable with the life choices him and his wife are making.

I could be wrong… she might have him locked in a dungeon that we don’t know about. Holding him hostage, never to see his family again. Quick, someone, CALL THE POLICE, THIS COULD BE THE REASON!

Or maybe he’s been emotionally manipulated for the past 20+ years, unable to create original and rational thought for himself and do the things he really wants to do – like see his family. Who knows?

Either way, this post isn’t about that conversation either.

It’s about us trying to control others in ways that make us feel most comfortable. I can only assume it feels very rejecting and sad for this family not to see him. Those are uncomfortable feelings, and to alleviate them we subconsciously (and, consciously) try to control the situation to bring back our comfort, at the expense, and lack of thought for the other party.  

He may not want to see your family. You might be really annoying to him… If someone hasn’t come to visit, perhaps they have a reason for it?

I remember once I made a new friend. And that friend had a person who worked for him, and by default when I hung out with my friend, I would also have to hang with this other person. But I found the other person scary as fuck and very hard to feel comfortable around. So, I quietly stepped my way out of the group.

Not because I’m better than anyone, but because it wasn’t a soul fit. It wasn’t even a conscious, mental/emotional mortal, flesh and blood, brain fit either.

So, who the fuck knows why anyone does anything, right?

You can’t know if you don’t actually talk to them. And even then, would you accept their explanation? Be honest now. Would you get even more offended if someone told you honestly that you were scary? Or boring? Do you REALLY want to know why people do the things they do? And now, knowing my story - would you turn around and call me someone who thinks they’re too good for someone? Or would you say - yeah, I can see why you made that choice.

We do these comfort zone regaining / controlling thing in sneaky little ways, guilty ways, childish ways, manipulative ways and for a very large portion of us – we do it in ways we’re not even aware of. The Accidental, Covert, Control Freak.

Even a simple conversation to another person about “how awful he is for not visiting”, “how awful she is for unfriending” is an attempt at regaining control. It helps us feel like we’re not alone when people agree with us. It helps us feel more comfortable and “things are as they should be” and when those who “offended” us with their behaviors follow our rules. 

It’s far harder and very uncomfortable to simply ALLOW someone to just ‘be’, and do his or her own thing isn’t it? It pushes our hot buttons, hard.

I know. I get triggered ALL. THE. TIME.

(… the only difference is that I’m aware of the control/should thing, so I sit and sulk by myself instead of actually trying to tell someone else how they SHOULD be doing things)

But don’t get me wrong, I’d LOVE to control MANY THINGS! Fuck it… ALL OF THE THINGS! I’d love to make people “see” that their actions and behaviors are “wrong”.

… but to what end? Are they wrong? REALLY? How is this true? How is it that you and I, with all our life experiences and twists and turns and ups and downs can consider our Selves right, to other people’s wrong? Who the fuck do we think we are? Are others not entitled to the same freedoms of choice, just as we are?

Maybe you weren’t? For me, I’ve always made sure I did what I said I was going to do. And it’s never been a problem. But I appreciate many people didn’t have the ability to control their outcomes - so it’s worth addressing that and seeing if you can let it go somehow.

But don’t worry, I felt like I had no control in other ways, many people do.

Perhaps you were controlled and somehow feel that others deserve the same treatment also? Perhaps your lack of focus and direction in life feels out of control, so you’re grasping at straws anywhere, to try and make the world feel and look right, to you. Maybe you’re not living to your fullest potential, you’re unfulfilled but feel like you don’t have the control or ability to make dramatic or subtle life changes, so you too can have what you want?

It’s much easier to control others.

Because to control ourselves and get what WE want, means to stare our OWN demons in the face. Our own blocks, and our own fears.

To finally take the spotlight off another person’s life and stop getting so pissed at them just doing what they want to do, we need to first, own our shit – then, own our own damn life.

Period.

 Anyway, what defines wrong? Just because someone doesn’t want to see a part of the family, how do you know that’s wrong? How do you know that family member doesn’t feel depressed after hanging out with you lot? Your family may be triggering them in some way they’re not aware of (or maybe they are). Your Facebook posts may be uninteresting to someone else – so why should they follow it, and you. Why SHOULD they follow you? Why should someone who doesn’t give a flying fuck about what you post, follow you?

Why SHOULD anyone do what you say? Who are you, God?

Layers of control can go quite deep, and they get VERY stressful. Because here’s the thing, you CANNOT control another human, so as hard as you try you never get the result, and the frustration just builds up to the point it POPS! 

It’s like walking into a physics exam, when you’ve never studied it in your life and someone holds a gun to your head and says, “If you don’t get 80%, I’ll shoot you”… THE STRESS OF HAVING ZERO CONTROL IS REAL. 

And the stress of TRYING to control another human who will NOT be controlled by your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, words, and actions is JUST AS REAL.

So, what’s the solution? Own our shit, and own our own lives,

Because let’s face it, there will ALWAYS be something we disapprove of that someone ELSE is doing. There are 7.4billion people on the planet. You gonna go control them all? Good luck with that. And how stressful it is imagining ALL those people doing ALL those things you disapprove of. And there are, MANY things.

You can’t control others.

But you can control yourself. In fact, you can control little micro things every single day – easy things, and they can build up to help you finally FEEL like you’re operating in the world you wish to live in, and not fighting against people and situations that you disapprove of.  

So the first place to start is accepting you cannot control others. And on dropping into that acceptance nice and deep, you can start ask yourself “what benefit am I getting, by complaining about this person not doing things the way I want them to”… and ask “Why do I do this?” Ask the question without judgment, and with compassion. What is going on with YOU, that makes you feel this burning desire to have other people function according to your morals, values, principles, goals and desires? Are they not entitled to their own values? Are they not entitled to their own way of life? What might be driving you to feel this way?

Own your shit – with compassion.

Responsibility. It’s a tough pill to swallow. But it’s time to take responsibility for your Self. Not the Self of others. Your values and the values of others may be quite different. And guess what, that’s normal. That’s life. That’s called being human. You may not like how another person thinks, feels, acts… but tough shit – it’s not your call to make. If the friends and family don’t want to see you, or want to live their life their way - let them! After they become a legal adult, and if you are not their immediate caregiver, then their decisions are not your responsibility.

“Oh, but she makes everyone else feel bad”

… I’ll say it again, can you control her actions? Or can you control your response?

Hey, maybe an intervention is required.

But let me warn you, an intervention MUST be for their benefit… not yours. Staging an intervention just to make your Self feel comfortable, and take back control is not the purpose of intervention. Be mindful of your desire to control situation and outcomes.

But here’s an easy, fun and rewarding thing you can do! Surround your Self with people who DO share your values, beliefs, etc. Focus on YOUR people, your peeps, and your tribe! Focus all your love and energy on it, build it, share it, talk about your values with those people, find those common grounds, and build THAT community around you.

But for the love of God (yes, and I actually mean, for the Love of All Things Universal and for the Love of All MAGICAL Things That Created this entire thing we call life, allow others to do their thing and build their chosen community too.

You may not be part of their community. Deal with it.

And if you’re in a community you don’t resonate with. Get out. Don’t make them conform to your beliefs. Sure, share them if it resonates with your soul to do so, but forcing them and trying to sway an entire community is activism, and activism has its own place and time - so pick your battles wisely.

I have to deal with this on the daily. I’m, as one of my friends called me “the minority”… nice.  

But hey, I get it, I AM the minority!

I think very differently to the “neurotypicals” of the world, I have very different values to my friends and my opinions are triggering and hardcore. So I just don’t bother. I’m not interested into trying to get them to think my way. They have their community, and I have mine. But I certainly don’t edit myself, I pick my battles according to what group I’m talking to, and make sure I spend at least 80% of my life with likeminded people that I don’t feel this gnawing ache to change or control.

And so to you, I say…

Those few pockets of shared values etc. Focus on those. And for the bits you don’t agree on, get into a big fight about it… stress about it… or let it go. Because when you do, you find the energy and emotional space to live your life too.

So, who’s life are you trying to control right now? Who isn’t doing things the way YOU want them to? Will bitching about it and getting all butt hurt over it fix it? Is there another way you can release the pressure valve? Yes, there always is – but first acceptance, say it WITH ME!  

“Everyone is allowed the same entitlement as I am to live a life of their choosing, I don’t have to like it, but I don’t have to judge them on it, either”

And what if someone is trying to tell you what to do?

We’ll save that for another post.

For now, go out there and practice letting people just be.  

… But don’t let me tell you what to do … ;) you get to choose if this feels like a good idea, or not. You’re in control of you, now.