Being A Control Freak Is Not A Superpower. Stop it.

how to stop being a control freak

When the uncertainty of relinquishing control creates so much vulnerability that you prefer to just do it all yourself.

How do you let go though, and stop being a control freak?

Firstly, hands up if you’re a control freak? We are all friends here and there is no shame, so if you raised your hand (or your eyebrow as the case may be,) to you I say, hi, friend. Thanks for being real. I used to be like you. I get it. I had to stop being controlling but to be honest, it can still rear its ugly head.

In my experience people rarely admit to being a TOTAL control freak. They say things like “I’m a bit of a control freak,” with a little open hand gesture and body wiggle to make it look cute, or they say “I’m a little bit OCD and I just like things done a certain way,” as if having a psychological anxiety disorder is easier for people to digest than someone simply being edgy about giving anyone else the reigns, or the uncertainty of relinquishing control can create so much vulnerability that you prefer to just tough it out and hope for the best. 

‘Controller’ is one of the saboteurs according to Stanford Researcher, Shirzad Charmine. Thankfully, he is too professional and polite to use the term “control freak.” No one wants to be a freak except maybe between the sheets… but I digress.

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Like any of the 10 saboteurs as researched by Charmine such as hyper-achiever, pleaser and yes, controller, you must resist condemning this behaviour as ‘bad.’ While these behaviours may no longer serve you or your life, once upon a time, they were survival mechanisms. 

If you currently feel safer at the helm, managing all of the tasks, taking on more than seems fair and toughing it out and hoping for the best, it’s likely that you have become hyper-independant through lessons and circumstances your life has handed you. 

When we see our saboteurs through this lens, we can be more compassionate with ourselves. And when we are more compassionate with ourselves, we can make changes and create new ways of thinking and being. 

Being a controller can be exhausting and often goes hand in hand with resentment and burnout. You may also feel that  and when such behaviour is so ingrained it can be tricky to know where to start once you have realised you must. 

Once you realise you’re a control freak, it’s easier to stop being controlling. But first you must admit it’s not a great way of being.

I invite you to start small and build your delegation and support seeking muscles.

Begin with inconsequential things such as asking a colleague to check an important email, asking a partner to pick something up for you or making a request to a family member. Build your way up to offloading stuff on your plate which can be done easily by others.

As you get better at this I invite you to remember the dishwasher. 

There are many people who believe that their way of stacking the dishwasher is the only way to do it. The plates go this way, the glasses go that way, and the cutlery is clearly only ever done face down, stacked like little soldiers, when in fact the job could be equally well done in a number of ways. There may be ways that are more economical space wise, or even more efficient with cleaning, but really, as long as the plates comes out more or less clean most of the time is that not enough?

Sometimes, you might need to let people do it their way and accept it’s not how you would do it, but as long as it is done, and it’s ‘good enough’ then relish the time this gives back to you.