You just want to make sure that everything’s right and that you don’t get hurt, correct? Well, all your efforts to protect yourself and take care of others can actually bring about what you don’t want – rejection. How can you know if you’re controlling and you’re driving others away?
Here are 10 telling signs:
• You spend a lot of time thinking about what others ‘should’ be doing.
• You feel righteous and hear a lecturing tone in your voice.
• You ‘know’ without a doubt what other people should be doing.
• You notice that while you’re letting someone know what you think, they turn their head away, look down or roll their eyes.
• You’ve been told to ‘mind your own business’ more than once lately.
• You’ve been called ‘controlling’ or ‘rigid’ or ‘difficult’ recently.
• You’ve either said or thought, ‘maybe I shouldn’t interfere’.
• You’ve tried to restrict someone’s access to their friends, family or certain activities.
• A friend has said to you, “It’s not your life, let them learn from their own mistakes.”
• You’ve ‘punished’ someone either by exploding with anger, or given them the cold shoulder.
What to do about it?
First, if your controlling behavior has escalated to violence, get immediate professional help with anger management. There are many, many programs easily available in nearly every community.
• If you’re being emotionally controlling and manipulative, own up to it.
• Acknowledge the problem to whomever is affected and ask their help while you learn to let go of this negative, unproductive, destructive behavior.
• When you feel your back going up with righteousness, take 10 deep breaths before you say a word.
• Ask for support from trusted friends.
• Practice saying silently to yourself, “It’s their life. It’s not my problem.” And, you have to really accept the truth in those statements.
Be patient with yourself; give yourself time to change. This is a repetitive mental ‘tape-recording’ in your mind as much as it is a behavior. Unless you’ve experienced a traumatic consequence, immediate change is unlikely. Give it time and effort and you will become more tolerant, open, kind and forgiving. And then, ironically, people will really listen to your advice and take it to heart, but only after you’ve detached from the outcome.
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