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Control Freaks Suffer, Too—And You Can Help Them!

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In my media interviews with respect to the recent publication of Losing Control, Finding Serenity: How the Need to Control Hurts Us and How to Let It Go, interviewers and listeners alike often relate their considerable angst and discomfort from having to live and/or work with control freaks.

They tell me that control freaks constantly trample their boundaries, frazzle them, and cause them great anxiety—which, of course, comes as no surprise to me since I am a “reforming” controller myself.

However, what is not well understood is how much “suffering” control freaks endure from their unrelenting compulsion to control.

Controllers are consumed and propelled by their strong fears and anxieties.  Their lives are filled with “what might happens.”  They constantly worry about whether important (according to them) matters will be done “right”—which is to say, the way they want them to be done–and on time, and about what dreadful consequences will ensue if they are not.  It is thus no surprise that most control freaks sleep poorly, find it difficult to  “play” and have fun, and have deeper frown lines than laugh lines.

I point these things out not to generate sympathy for their overbearing ways, but rather as an insight that can assist you in fending off controllers!

Let me explain.

Helping Controllers Helps Controlees

Because controllers are driven by their strong fears and anxieties, their compulsion or need to control diminishes commensurately with the lessening of their fears.

It thus follows that you can reduce the discomfort you endure from controllers’ behavior if you can help them reduce their fears and anxieties.

In other words, you can help yourself by “helping” them.

Here is an effective way that controlees can help controllers defuse their fears and anxieties.

Reassure Your Control Freak!

Yes, that’s right.   Reassure him or her that everything will be okay.    They need to hear and feel that.  It eases the “dangers” and nightmares–mostly fictional–that controllers script for themselves.   And don’t be afraid to repeat your reassurances.   The more the better.

Your reassurances should be direct and simple:

“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure things are handled properly,” or “Boss, I’ll get right on it.”

If your loved one is a controller, try:

“Dear, don’t worry, every thing will work out all right,” or “Sweetheart, is there anything I can do to help?”

You should, of course, use words and reassurance methods that feel right to you with respect to the controllers (and their concerns) in your life.

How Do You Tame Your Control Freaks?

One of the reasons for my establishing Danny’s Decontrol Yourself Blog is to provide a forum for people to share their stories, experiences, and wisdom concerning the many facets of the control dynamic.

I would thus appreciate hearing from you about some effective ways of “taming” your controllers that you have learned.   Having to deal with the antics of controllers is a major concern for many people and we can all benefit from shared experiences.

And Remember to,

Let It Go!

Danny

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12 Responses to Control Freaks Suffer, Too—And You Can Help Them!

  1. susan says:

    Hey you make it so easy, Ccontron freaks don’t trust anyone with any job, how can one ensure them. if that was that easy, we would not be writing so much
    the trust issue is the back ground for the mental madness
    like they listen to anyone. they find themselves god on this earth.
    you have to be controlled like a puppet only then you will know.what miserable trap you are in.
    i for one will never ever feel sorry for them. because they have cheated us and continue to cheat with utmost greed only for themselves. they expect everybody to dod things for them but when it comes to them everyone has to feel sorry.
    you do. people like me won’t and will not

    • Susan, the intent of my post–which perhaps I didn’t make clear enough–was not that we should feel sorry for control freaks or condone their often aggressive ways, but rather that by trying to understand what drives them or makes them “tick,” we can find ways in which to to better take care of ourselves in dealing with them. I believe harboring anger and resentment hurts us more than them.

      I agree with you that it is not easy to work or live with control freaks. My posts on the subject perhaps should be viewed as offering tools and suggestions on how to make it less difficult.

      Danny

  2. The Sister says:

    I have watched my sister control her husband and children till they no longer want to see her. Divorce for the husband and long distance relationships for the children have made the situation unbearable for my sister. I constantly remind her that her guilt trips and aggressive nature harm her relationships but she can’t seem to control herself though she has been seeing a counselor for years. How can I get through to her.

    • Muffin, I know you are deeply concerned about your sister, but unfortunately she has to find her own way. When her pain and suffering become great enough, it is possible she may see the light. However, your constant reminders may actually produce results opposite of which you intend. Consider just being a loving and supporting sister, as you obviously are, without offering guidance as to how she should deal with her children and ex-husband. If she continually brings it up to you, try just listening and acknowledging how difficult it must be for her.

      Danny

  3. Donna Hendo says:

    Living with a control freak is extremely hard as they firstly trap you in their web, make you believe that they are the only ones that can love you like they do, they appear at first to do everything for you, and you are flattered by their alleged charm, they shower you with everything, from love to diamond rings, its merely a honey trap for later on! They will slip up from time to time as living a lie is very hard even for the best of control freaks, they will dislike all your friends, comment on your clothes until you eventually loose all your confidence. They tell you all the great & wonderful things that they have did, only to make their lives seem more colourful, & yet deep down they are insecure, unhappy people. get out as soon as you see this happening, they are bullies, sheep in wolves clothing, leave the relationship before you lose everything..
    Dont feel sorry for them as they know what they are doing ! If you really love someone you love them for what they are, and you would not ill-treat them, i disagree with trying to understand them, yes lets understand them but keep away unless they get help themselves otherwise they will never change, and end up sad lonley old people who eventually everyone will want to keep their distances..

  4. Thank you for your comment, Donna. It sounds like you’ve really had your fill of control freaks! While I agree with much of what you say, not everyone has the choice of leaving or totally dismissing their control freaks, lest that choice may be fraught with other serious drawbacks. Children, family, and financial considerations are factors that
    may effectively prevent that option. The same is usually true with respect to bosses, supervisors, sports coaches, performance directors, schooling, members of social, religious, and charitable organizations, etc. Once again, my posts on control freaks ares intended to offer ways to make it easier to deal with control freaks.

    Danny

  5. Dave says:

    I am a control freak that wants to change in the worst way. I was not always like this and want to get back to who i was. I changes when my daughter was born. My wife says i try and control every thing in our lives. It is ruining our marriage and making me hate myself. How do i change for good.

    • David, I suspect that the person “you were” had fewer fears. Being a father and husband usually produces new fears. I would suggest getting in touch with and processing those fears. It will take the focus off others and place it where it can do the most good: yourself.

  6. HB says:

    I am in a relationship with someone who i believe is a control freak (i am hoping he is a control freak and not narcistic). I have been with him for 9 months now and started noticing the controlling behaviour quite soon after we started dating. I never lost my confidence and have been (up until now) in control of the situation – even though at times it has been difficult. My desire, of course is to help as i cannot quite understand at this point whether he is crying out for help or whether he is just a typical manipulative controlling person that will never change. I have in the past months suggested that we both have therapy and he was not accepting – i have now stepped away from the relationship and am assessing my next move. Ideally, I would like to see it work but am unsure whether i should waste anymore time. I was going to give him a ultimatum – either we try to get therapy or we leave things where they are. Thoughts?

    • Thank you for sharing your relationship control story, HB. Have you considered whether you have also been too controlling in the relationship–at least until now? There are several indications of this. One is that you state that you had previously been “in control of the situation.” That sounds controlling to me. Another is that on the one hand you say you say that you want to help but can’t determine whether he is “crying for help” or just being manipulative, and that you had been suggesting therapy in past months. Wanting to help too much is a sign of being controlling. Suggesting a course of action repeatedly, especially after resistance,is a sign of being too controlling.
      I think your stepping away is a positive, letting go of control step. It is a sign of your starting to accept the “what is” in the relationship and that could free the flow so to speak and unexpected paths may open up for you. However, I wouldn’t work too hard on “assessing” your next move. It will come naturally to you. Giving an ultimatum in my view would be returning to controlling actions!

      Wishing you the best,
      Danny

  7. caroline says:

    I’m in a relationship with someone whom I believe to be a Control freak… I love him dearly, but my mum has a problem with the relationship, she says I should leave him. What do I do, can he change

    • Hi Caroline,

      In reading your comment,two things hit me right away. First, you shouldn’t look to your mum to make such an important decision as to whether you leave your mate or not. That should be your decision, not hers–particularly since you “love him dearly”. Second, your mum looks like the controller in your life that you have to find a way to deal with. I would start by not looking to her for “advice” so much. Your mate may not change, but you have the power to change and that’s what you should focus on. Without knowing more about the dynamics of your relationship, I would start by remaining calm and detached from his controlling actions, not taking things personally, and finding ways to be more independent, including pursuing your interests and passions, and standing your ground when necessary.

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