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The Dangers of Being a Control Freak

by amanda

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I don’t really need reminding of my control freak tendencies, but I remember how anxious my husband used to get when I asked him to cook, because he was afraid of getting it wrong. Wrong doesn’t mean that he’ll fluff up on the recipe; rather it means that he won’t do it quite the way I would have done it.

Sound familiar?

Does your Other Half live with a Control Freak? Cooking isn’t the only area where he would tread with trepidation. I know that as I’ve grown more aware and more mature, I’m getting better, but I think that Control Freakery, particularly in working mums, is a difficult  condition to cure; perhaps it is best to set expectations and manage it. I was going to say “control it” but the irony of controlling your control freakery is too much!

The majority of the  working mums that I work with have suffered from the affliction of control freakery. They want things done “properly” as we would do them, and the control manifests itself both at home and at work.

  • It’s my way or the high way
  • I’m the one who manages it all
  • I’m the only one who can do things properly around here
  • My kids have to have freshly cooked organic meals
  • I always end up rewriting the reports of my staff
  • If something goes out with my name under it, it has to be perfect

This control freakery and perfectionism leads to us not being adept at delegating or even allowing others to take on a job or a task. We just don’t accept reasonable human limits because we feel that we should be able to do it all, do it ourselves and do it perfectly to boot.

If we’re not careful to manage our Control Freakery, it takes over. Control freakery leads to imbalance in our lives. Things like…

  • We spend too many hours at work
  • We bottle things up
  • We exhaust ourselves during our working week
  • We don’t stop during our supposed “resting” time
  • We live in a near constant state of heightened adrenaline and stress

The ultimate cost of consistently insisting on doing it all alone means that we end up overwhelmed, resentful and bad tempered.

Even when we get to the crisis point of overwhelm, we STILL don’t ask for help,  because we feel like a failure or we must be doing something wrong, and oh don’t forget your guilt!

Working mums who are affected by control freakery can go from overwhelm to mental self-flagellation to guilt in the bat of an eye!

The thing is with Control Freak Mums, is that we know we are control freaks, we know that it’s not healthy and that it doesn’t make life easier for us or for those of us around us, yet we still wear the control freak label as a badge of pride.

We  mistake our supersonic ability to do so much and manage so much as superiority over lesser mortals to whom we may pay false compliments: “Oh, I wish I could be more laid back.”

Do you, really… or are you secretly proud of your control freakery?

Essentially, when we are being control freaks, I think that perhaps we are trying to keep everything “safe.” We are trying to minimise risk. But to live means to encounter risk: We simply can’t live life without risk and without things going wrong. The upshot of being a control freak is that we will experience more anxiety and stress when things do go wrong. And ultimately things WILL go wrong, because sh1t happens!

Here are 7 “Coach Yourself” ways of starting to manage your Control Freakery:

    1. Choose one area of your life or work in which you are known for being over-controlling (if you can’t think of one, ask a colleague, your husband or a friend!). If you rate yourself as a 10/10 for Uber Control Freakery in that area right now, what could you do to diminish that score by 3 or 4 points to 7/10 or even 6/10?
    2. Have a conversation with your husband/partner or a close friend. Open the lines of communication and ask them how they feel about you needing to always do things your way, have the final word or generally being inflexible. What effect does it have on them? Start putting yourself in their shoes to raise your awareness and take the focus of you and onto those who have to live with you. When having this conversation, do NOT justify yourself.  Make it the sort of conversation where you don’t actually talk. i.e. Listen!
    3. Ask for help and support before your regular crashes of overwhelm and resentment. What is one area of your life that you could really do with some help? No woman is an island, not even Control Freak mums. By practising asking for support, not only will you make life easier for yourself, you will start to value the concept of support more and you will also start to value diversity. Just because someone doesn’t do it your way, it doesn’t make it wrong!
    4. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Choose what’s worth doing properly and what can “give” a little (or even a lot). Remember the serenity prayer: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
    5. Whilst you create your own standards in life, you must also respect other’s standards too. You can give your opinion but not expect others to see your way as the shining light.
    6. Ponder on why you feel that you have control freak tendencies. Perhaps there are some needs not being met here? Get curious about what your  fundamental needs might be beyond food, shelter and water and start to see how you might get those needs met.
    7. How do you respond to this statement? “Being kind is incompatible with being a control freak.” Think about this in the light of kindness to yourself AND kindness to others. Are you being kind when you are being a control freak? Do you want to be kind?

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