4 Ways To Become Less Of A Control Freak

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Ever feel like you're spiraling out? Friends are ignoring borderline brilliant suggestions you offer for improving their love lives, work doesn't care that you've got the ideal solution to Overbooked Conference Room Crisis 2016, and all of this is driving you up a wall. You know you should learn to be less of a control freak, but it's hard. Life feels like one big frustrating free-for-all zooming by as you stand helpless, witnessing a loss of power over your own existence, and you want to make it better. You know you can make it better, if you just say or do the right thing — if you enlighten others as to what they should say or do, then the issue can definitely be solved. On paper, this logic is watertight. In practice, not so much. Not even if you're the wisest owl in the forest.

In times that try our patience and sanity, maybe what we need isn't more control, it's less. It might be refreshing to see what happens when we allow ourselves to get caught up in that inertial spiral of life; you know, the one that's about to carry you away regardless of whether you drag your feet or go willingly. In an effort to just let some sh*t go, here are a few strategies we can use for becoming less controlling. Changing a behavior is one of the hardest things in life, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it to try.

1. Recognize that control is an illusion

Have you ever been able to control what happens to you? When you're honest with yourself, did any hoping or wishing or manipulating really stop a partner from cheating on you, prevent a loved one from getting hurt, or save your brother from the annoyance of a getting stuck in I-95 traffic? Oftentimes, things just happen, and we (incorrectly) believe it's the result of something we did, or something we advised someone to do. We cannot control others, or the influence the inevitability of certain events; all we really have control over are our own behaviors.

2. Appreciate alternatives to your suggestions

Control freaks very often imagine their way to be the best way, and maybe it's for good reason: Some of the biggest control freaks I know are very experienced, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. Unfortunately for them, everyone has to find their own path, and that means people are going to touch the hot stove even after you tell them they'll get burnt. We become controlling sometimes to save the ones we love from the pain of our own past errors, but people are eventually going to do what they want and believe is the best for them — always. Appreciate that there are other ways of doing things, and relinquish your supervision of their life.

3. Stop trying to read the future

"If I just think about this long enough, and hard enough, and if I just solve for every possible variable before it comes up, then — then — I'll absolutely be able to get what I want." Again, control is a facade, and spending time envisioning ways to control the future is a futile effort, to say the least. It's anxiety-inducing and rather pointless, to boot. Allow events to reveal themselves organically, respond appropriately, and realize that the only part of the future you can control is what you are doing in the present.

4. Acknowledge your skepticism is really just fear

Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? Well, of course, you want to be happy, but, damn, right and in control not only feel good, but those feelings just make sense. Unfortunately, what makes sense just because it provides a feeling of comfort isn't always good for us, our families, friends, or the future relationships that exist between any of those fine people. Many times, your skepticism of others' ability to know what's best for them as much as you do is really just fear. Fear of being unable to control what happens to them and, likely, what happens to you. Use your mantra: Control is a facade, control is a facade. Take a breath, allow yourself to relax, and watch what happens.

It might be helpful to simply adopt a "no advice" policy with friends and family. When it comes to attempting to control your own life, just remember that you can't control what others say or do, but you have full control over how to respond to them.

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