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Are you a control freak?

>> 10 November 2008

Below you will find a few statements. Tick the ones which apply to you.

  • I make lists of about every aspect of my life
  • I don't like it when people touch my things
  • I hate to wait for someone who is late for an appointment
  • In case of an argument or discussion, I am usually convinced that my opinion is the correct one
  • If I want something to be done right, I do it myself
  • I get uneasy on 'empty' vacation days and am mostly the one who makes the plans and proposes fun activities
  • I would feel awkward if someone organized a surprise party for me
  • I feel upset if people do not follow my advice
  • I become testy from the mess of other people
  • When I watch television with other people, I usually hold the remote control
  • Others are usually less demanding than I am
  • I find it difficult to delegate. And when I do, I explain how the work should be done
  • When I organize a dinner, I prefer my guests to stay out of the kitchen and do not want them to clean or start doing the dishes
  • If a friend tells me she wants to start doing yoga, I start looking for the best and most suitable classes for her
  • I always take notes at meetings, even when someone else writes the minutes
  • I rarely take a ride with other people; I prefer to drive myself

How often did you say 'yes'?

  • From 0 to 5 times: you are ok. You have gusts of controlling behavior, but in a healthy way. If you hardly ticked any of the above statements, you should probably watch out not to let others take over.
  • From 6 to 10 times: you are in the danger zone. Stand still a little more often to look at your behavior and thought patterns. Ask yourself the question: what would happen if I did not do this? If you want to change the direction, use the 6-steps plan below.
  • More than 10 times: you are a real control freak. And you know it, also because people point it out to you. If you do not succeed in letting go on your own, call in the help of a psychologist or therapist.

Learn to let go in 6 steps:

  1. Select on of the most controlling behaviors from the above test and 'abstain' for one month. If you usually take notes during meetings, try to consciously NOT taking them. Do you get nervous, are you able to concentrate less, are you afraid to forget something? That is an indication that something needs to change. Stick to it for a month, that is the minimum term to break with a habit.
  2. Control freaks usually do not control a certain facet of their own life. Their perfectionism is a diversionary tactic to control the inner chaos. Ask yourself how this is with you and where your controlling behavior can originate from.
  3. Tell your partner and good friends that you would like to become less controlling in the near future and ask them to help you. Check with them in which situations you suffer from controlling behavior and when it bothers them also. Ask them to point out to you - in a friendly and constructive manner - when "you're at it again".
  4. Start small. What may be a futility to someone else, like living without a watch, can be groundbreaking for you. The good thing about starting small is that you get immediate rewards. You feel more relaxed and get more self confidence - which makes it easier to continue.
  5. Stop being overly helpful. In the long run this only leads to frustration and turns people away from you. Because what you really want - influence the behavior of others - does not work. Live and let live, that is the message. Respect others' choices and solve people's problems not for them but with them. 
  6. Remember: letting go of control from time to time really does not mean that you will loose your identity or come across as weak. You only become a more pleasant person. And also: the opposite of control is trust. Not only in yourself, but also in other people and in the future.
Freely translated from Libelle magazine


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