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Mental Mondays: 10 Signs You’re A Control Freak

Mental Mondays: 10 Signs You’re A Control Freak



here are some of us who always want things to go our way — we try to control every aspect of our lives (and even that of others), which can lead to feelings of uneasiness when things appear to escape our grip. If you struggle to let go of control in various situations, it is one of the signs of being a control freak. Surprisingly, this is a common trait in today’s world. But what are the other signs to watch out for?

First, try to picture yourself as a conductor standing before this vast orchestra, passionately organizing each note with meticulous precision. Your desire for a flawless performance leads you to control every aspect of the music, fearing that the slightest deviation might disrupt the perfect rhythm. In this analogy, being a control freak is akin to that conductor who strives for absolute control over every instrument, unwilling to entrust others with their respective roles. The pursuit of perfection becomes an all-consuming force, dictating the tempo and direction of the symphony, leaving little room for spontaneity or collaboration.

In reality, being a control freak goes beyond this analogy. It involves a strong inclination to exert excessive control over various aspects of life, as well as the lives of others. The goal of recognizing control freak tendencies is not to be self-critical or judgmental but to increase self-awareness and foster personal growth. By understanding the reasons behind these tendencies, you can work on managing things healthily, leading to balanced relationships and a more fulfilling life.

Here are tell-tale signs of a control freak to look out for…

Photo: Alex Green/Pexels
  • The desire for perfection and micromanagement: If you often obsess over every detail and strive for flawless outcomes, you might be a control freak. You feel compelled to oversee and manage every aspect of a task or project, often unable to trust others to handle it without your involvement.
  • Difficulty delegating tasks: If you struggle to delegate responsibilities, you’re likely a control freak. In this case, you prefer to manage things yourself because you believe you are the only one capable of getting it done correctly. Handing over control feels uncomfortable as you fear the outcome might not meet your standards.
  • Resistance to adapt to change: Any unexpected changes or deviations from your meticulously planned schedule cause distress and anxiety. You prefer to stick to routines and familiar patterns because they give you a sense of control and security.
  • Need for constant validation and approval: You seek continuous validation from others to reinforce your sense of control and competency. Approval from others becomes a significant source of self-worth, and any criticism or disagreement can be challenging to handle.

  • Difficulty letting go of control in group settings: During group activities or projects, you often feel compelled to take charge and have the final say in decision-making. You might find it challenging to trust the group’s consensus or let others lead.
  • Constantly planning and overthinking: You consistently plan and regurgitate every situation, even minor events. You believe that by planning carefully, you can prevent undesirable outcomes or uncertainties.
  • Feeling irritated when others don’t follow your instructions: When others don’t follow your directions or adhere to your expectations, you might become frustrated or impatient. Their lack of compliance can make you feel anxious or even angry.
  • Controlling emotions and suppressing vulnerability: You tend to control your emotions, fearing that expressing vulnerability might be seen as a lack of control. You prefer to appear strong and composed even when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • Difficulty handling uncertainty: Uncertain situations make you uneasy, and you may feel the need to preemptively plan for all possible outcomes to regain control.
  • Struggling to trust others: Trusting others, especially in important matters, is difficult for you. You prefer to be directly involved and oversee tasks to ensure they are done correctly.

How to overcome these tendencies

Photo: Alex Green/Pexels

Overcoming these tendencies is a journey of self-awareness and intentional change. Here are some practical ways to address and manage them:

  • Recognize the behavior: The first step is acknowledging that you exhibit control freak tendencies. Be honest with yourself and reflect on how your need for control affects your life and relationships.
  • Identify triggers and underlying causes: Pay attention to situations or emotions that trigger your desire for control. Explore the underlying reasons for these tendencies which might stem from past experiences, fear of failure, or anxiety.
  • Learn to let go: Accept you cannot control everything. Embrace the idea that some aspects of life are beyond your control, and that’s okay. Practice releasing your grip on situations and outcomes.
  • Delegate and trust others: Start delegating responsibilities to others and trust their capabilities. Understand that everyone has unique strengths and ways of doing things, and allowing others to take charge can foster collaboration and growth.
  • Embrace flexibility: Even as a control freak, it’s possible to cultivate flexibility in your thinking and actions. Learn to adapt to changes and uncertainties without becoming anxious or overwhelmed.
  • Set realistic expectations: Strive for excellence rather than perfection. Accept that mistakes and imperfections are part of life and can be valuable learning experiences.
  • Seek support and feedback: Share your desire to change with trusted friends, family, or colleagues. Seek their support and welcome feedback on your progress.
  • Practice emotional regulation: Develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage anxiety and stress. Avoid using control to cope with negative emotions.
  • Challenge your assumptions: Question your beliefs about control and its role in your life. Challenge any irrational thoughts or beliefs that fuel your need for control.
  • Engage in relaxation techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga, to reduce stress and promote a calmer mindset.

Overcoming control freak tendencies is a process that requires patience and self-compassion. Celebrate your progress, no matter how small, and be open to learning from setbacks. With commitment and willingness to change, you can create a healthier and balanced approach to life, fostering more fulfilling relationships and personal growth along the way.

Featured image: tatianazaets/iStock

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