Some of the best words I ever learned were: You can’t change others, only yourself. Another way I have heard this is: You can’t change others, just your reaction to them.
There are two ways to control. One in which you try to control everything around the people in your life in hopes for making them think, feel, or act differently. The other way is to try to actually get the other person to change the person they are so they can be who you want them to be.
How many times have you tried, with no avail, to get someone to notice you, to make it easy for them to like you, spend time with you, see you, love you….? Others might find familiarity in trying to do everything for another person to make them more like the person you want them to be. For example, taking full responsibility to create a social life for you and your partner hoping they might turn into the social butterfly you are hoping they would be. Or maybe never leaving your partners side to prevent them from doing something you disagree with like cheat, drink, or spend time with people you don’t like. Many times people find themselves controlling everything in life but on the inside feel completely out of control. Others feel like they are taking care of everyone else but themselves. At some point, even if you delay it, things will happen as they are meant to; people will be who they are whether you control them or not.
When trying to make something work we start to ignore the signs that it isn’t. We work harder, trying ot control the outcome. But ignoring the signs or our inner voice is usually just t avoid something else; avoid what though? Loneliness? Rejection? Failure? Or even worse, the possibility that if this relationship doesn’t succeed then it will confirm your worst fears about yourself, you are unlikable, even maybe unlovable? This is a dangerous game to play and can contribute to increased feelings of worthlessness, isolation, and self-sabotaging behaviors. This type of thinking can cause us to become stuck, in the control, because the thought of letting go of control is so scary and unknown. In other words, better the devil you know than the one you don’t.
Getting out of the rut of control is an ongoing journey but commitment and willingness to take the first steps can help get you on your way towards being more confident and secure. You might start off feeling disconnected but through your hard work you can flourish into a confident, insightful, strong, vulnerable, thoughtful person with healthy boundaries. The ability to overcome the need to control means that you must adopt a willingness to let go. This is a multi-step process that we will continue exploring over the next couple of posts!