The Myth of the Control Freak

Do you consider yourself, or do others label you as a control freak?   Many clients over the years have announced to me that they are major control freaks.  They consider their micromanaging of relationships, responsibilities, and of even fun to be something of an unbreakable habit.  Others explain that, “everyone thinks I have to be in control all the time…but if I don’t take care of things, who will?”  It has been my strong experience that the aforementioned people believe that they are actually IN CONTROL when they worry, obsess, what-if, and incessantly question themselves and everyone they interact with on a daily basis.

The Ultimate Form of Control

One of my favorite therapeutic inquiries is when I have the opportunity to ask the self-diagnosed control freak the following question:  “In your opinion what is the ultimate form of control?”  Most people understand that their controlling ways have created anxiety in themselves and difficulties in a myriad of relationships, thus they typically respond to the question with an acknowledgement, in their own unique way, that their pattern of attempting to control life doesn’t seem to be working  so well.  So, typically, they manifest a look of curiosity while simultaneously bracing themselves as they await the answer to this most intriguing of questions. And the correct answer is……..

The Ultimate Form of Control is LETTING GO

The person is now informed that he/she is not a control freak, but actually an Out of Control Freak (OCF).  This is always done in an upbeat, fun manner that stimulates further discussion.  The classic response from the OCF is something along the lines of, “Well, I can’t just ignore things…do you expect me to blow off my responsibilities…to not care anymore? “  To which I gladly explain that the letting go has to do with the symptomology that develops with an overly controlling style of living, namely the anxiety that creates fear, worry, overthinking  and physiological problems like insomnia, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, and dermatological issues, to name just a few.

Letting go really involves getting out of your own way.  Letting go of what-iffing,  obsessive worrying,  and incessant focusing on what can go wrong in all aspects of life.  Letting go of negative, fear based thinking and creating positive expectations of success for yourself and the people you care about, those you live with, love with, work with.  I’ve had the frequent experience of asking the connected, well meaning, yet overly controlling mother, “Do you love your son enough to allow him to fail the math test?”  This caring mother is unwittingly denying her son the crucial life experience of learning from his failure.   She is not giving him the gifts of responsibility and self-respect that can be cultivated from the healthy communication and meaningful consequences that are positively triggered from the failed test.

Letting go allows you to remain extremely responsible, detailed oriented, and professional in your style of living.   You are choosing to trust yourself and others, to be your very best self, to let and go with the flow…to flow with the inner glow of letting go.