Hello! I’m Giorgia, and I’m a control freak.
I have this obsessive need to plan every minute of every day to avoid unpleasant surprises and maximize efficiency. When life throws me a curveball that ruins my perfectly laid-out plans, I go into panic mode.
I like to be in charge of everything. When I ask someone to help me with something, they never do it how I would have done it. And so, I have to do it again. My way, this time.
My inner control freak also has this crazy need to “help” others. If I can show them the best way to do something, they’d be happy and grateful. Except, they never are. Turns out, people don’t like to be told what to do.
After a lot of soul-searching, I realised my inner control freak was born out of fear of loneliness. If I could control every little detail of my life (including other people’s reactions), I could achieve perfection. If I were perfect, then everyone would love me. I would never be alone again.
It never worked. My inner control freak wasn’t helpful. She was annoying and bossy. She wanted to rule my life and everyone else’s. She didn’t care about people’s opinions and feelings. She just wanted to have her own way.
It took me a long time to realise how destructive this behaviour is. I still believe in making plans, but now I allow room for flexibility. I still offer advice, but only when asked. I still ask for help but I don’t dictate how it should be given anymore.
I’d lie if I said it’s easy. My inner control freak still rears her ugly head sometimes but now I know how to reassure her that things will be alright – even if she’s not in control. Here are the three steps I took (and still take) to tame my inner control freak:
1. ADMIT YOU HAVE A PROBLEM
The first step to solve a problem is admitting you have one. Clichè, but true.
Easier said than done, especially if your obsessive need for control is tied to your perfectionism. Your ego gets in the way.
“Just because I know the best way to do something doesn’t mean I’m a control freak”, it says. “Wanting something done right is not a bad thing,” it argues.
No, there’s nothing bad in wanting something done right. Until right because your way, and your way only, and you try to impose it on others, without taking into consideration their thoughts and opinions. That’s when you know you have a problem.There' s something you can control in every situation. Focus on that and you'll overcome any struggles.Click To Tweet
2. DIG DEEPER
Once you realise you have a problem, dig deeper. Ask yourself where your need to control every little detail of your life comes from.
In my case, it was from fear of loneliness. My need for control was an armour I wore to protect myself from pain. If I could control every little detail of my life, I’d be able to avoid nasty surprises and impress others for having it all together. If I could control other people’s reactions, I could make sure they’d like me.
Once you figure out why you’re doing something, you can come up with a healthier way to satisfy your need.
In my case, becoming a control freak didn’t attract others to me. It repelled them. No one likes a Little Miss Perfect, especially when she’s trying to rule their lives. If I didn’t want people to leave me, I’d have to change my behaviour.
I had to let go of the need to control everything. I had to learn to go with the flow. Leave room for flexibility. Offer advice without expectations.
My relationships have never been better.
3. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
Focusing on what’s out of your control – like the weather, the past, other people’s behaviours – is a recipe for disaster. You’re giving all your power away. It’s stressful and sends you down a downward spiral of misery, depression and failure.
Instead, focus on the things you can control.
Like the food you eat.
The clothes you wear.
The books you read.
The effort you put in everything you do.
The way you react to situations.I believe there is something you can control in every situation. When you focus on that, you have the power to overcome whatever struggle you're facing.
Over to you, now. What strategies do you use to let go of your need to control? Share them in the comments below.