Do know people who have to be in complete control of every aspect of their life and every aspect of every one else’s life? I have known a number of people like this over the years and I have identified them as “control freaks”. I considered them control freaks because if they were not in complete control, if something did not go exactly the way they desired it to go they would freak out. Most of us can probably name a couple of control freaks that we have encountered along our journey.
When a person is driven by the ability to have extreme control over their world and the world of others the lines between what is the appropriate action to take blurs. All that matters is they controlled the situation; the results/impact is secondary to being in control.
In the past I have had much disdain for people I labeled as control freaks.
I find now that as I turn my gaze inward that the very trait which I found distasteful in the behavior and motivation of others was resident within me. The interesting thing is that I would have never considered myself a control freak, as a matter of fact I would say that I am quite the opposite, that I am flexible and able to go with the flow, that I don’t have a need to be in control. What I now realize that while I may not have been a blatant control freak I was in many ways a subtle control freak.
I say I was a subtle control freak because in many ways I was attempting to be in control and in many ways I was proud of the control that I executed in my daily life. One example is the way I controlled my emotions. Like many men I was brought up in a time where “boys don’t cry” and where it was thought of as an art, an acquired and praised skill to where a “poker face” that is to withhold outward evidence of my emotions. In the world in which I grew up as a child and again as member of the military and western society to be able to remain in control of my emotions was viewed as a very positive trait. It was not that many years ago that a person came to with love and said “Mark, it is okay for you to be human”. This wisdom did not take hold right away, however over time I understood the lesson which was that it was okay to let go of control, it was okay to be me and to allow the authentic me to shine through the suit of control that I had worn for so very long.
I found too that I was a subtle control freak in other ways. I recognized that I was very good at getting what I wanted. Which in many ways seems like a wonderful trait, however to always achieve or get what I wanted meant that I had to be in control, that I had to manipulate situations, play reverse psychology with myself and the universe believing my own arrogance in a effort to manipulate the universe. Yes I was in control, I was worried about control, I was thinking about control, I was acting in controlling ways yet I did not call it control. Truth is I was out of control with my desire to be in control.
Being in control is very much like being addicted to a powerful drug. We believe our ability to be in control is our safety net and if we remove our ability to be in control that we could stumble and fall into some unknown abyss.
What I have come to learn is that being in control is very limiting, it is like wearing leg shackles and blinders. It is when we dare to be out of control that we actually are able to shake off the shackles and remove the blinders. It is when we release the need to be in control that we open up the floodgates of possibilities.
We put people in prisons because as a society we want to control the behavior of a person, we want to know where they are at and what they are doing at all times. A prisoner by definition is in a controlled environment. When we choose to be in control we are also putting ourselves in a controlled environment which is very much like placing ourselves in a prison, building walls, moats and gun turrets thus creating artificial limitations for our self.
How much overt control do you exercise in your daily life? How much of your time is spent in subtle control? Take a look at yourself and consider where you could release control and how by being out of control you are able to lighten the load of your journey and create more openness within your experiences
Former Control Freak who is now (sometimes) blissfully out of control!