Why might you have a need to control?

It may be so we can feel safe and secure and be looking for certainty, which in turn gives us a feeling of security. We may not have had this security as a child.

Ironically there is no such thing as complete certainty, it is just a feeling we have.

Imagine for one minute that you were a child in an unsafe environment due to emotional neglect, physical abuse, or your parents are unable to meet your needs due to their own trauma or stress (generational trauma).

You are in an unstable, unsafe environment and unable to meet your own needs. You become hyper vigilant and in survival mode for a lot of the time. You learn that this is the right way to live.

Ok so that’s how you learnt to be and you probably learnt some coping mechanisms to help you to survive, some of them not so healthy…..

It is likely that your attachment style is insecure and you may have to control your environment or people, or both, in order to avoid difficult feelings.  Or your attachment style may be avoidant and you may display a lot of avoidant behaviour in order to protect yourself.

You may do things that you feel you ‘should’ do to avoid felling ‘bad’. You may feel the things you would ‘like’ to do or ‘need’ to do for yourself will leave you feeling guilty and are therefore wrong, thereby putting everybody else’s needs above your own.  

Ultimately you want to feel a good person and that everybody likes or loves you and that your worthy.

Now you are an adult and you have issues or ‘baggage’, You may not be aware of those issues until someone or something ‘triggers’ an emotional response in you, or you have a complete meltdown. You may not fully understand why you are feeling what you are feeling and you may blame other people for how you are feeling.   You may feel the victim or feel quite childlike.

This might form a pattern of behaviour and might just become the thing that you do or the way that you are. You may believe that change or healing is impossible.

Consider asking yourself – is the meltdown or emotional reaction a valid reaction to the situation?  In other words is your reaction over the top or is it justified?

It may be that your reaction is not based on what just happened but it is actually in relation to something that happened to you a long time ago, (remember the neglect or abuse as a child) or something that you experienced or witnessed which caused you some stress or trauma. 

An example could be a child coming from an incredibly poor background, where money was scarce  as well as food and heating, so as an adult that child may now feel very stressed in certain situations do with survival and financial security –  a basic human need. This is common for many who did not get their basic needs met as a child.

As humans it is common to go into controlling overload, in order to seek safety, which in turn could actually increase the bottomless pit of negative self talk and rumination.

To combat this some techniques that are useful are EFT, meditation and reassurance  techniques (safety mantras & positive self talk) to calm, ground and reassure, and to recognise that it is not the current reality.   Knowing that it is our body’s response in relation to a threat and fear, or something that happened in our past, and knowing that we can cope no matter what may happen can help to reassure and make us feel more in control of ourselves.

Talking through things and looking at the situation differently to gain a new perspective can be incredibly effective.

By learning positive self talk, calming strategies, and through talking therapy and learning ways to emotionally regulate like grounding techniques we can learn to understand why our reactions to certain situations are so powerful and disengage with that or process it differently and understand it so that it doesn’t have such a powerful hold over us in the present time.

Some of the ways we can feel safe and learn to emotionally regulate are;

Seeing a counsellor or coach
Connecting with others
Positive self talk & safety mantras
Grounding techniques
EFT Tapping  (Emotional Freedom Technique)
Guided meditations
Singing
Massage therapy or other bodywork
Being in nature
Cold water swimming
Getting creative
Exercising
Journaling
Talking out and expressing our feelings and emotions in a healthy and safe way

Ultimately empowering yourself through self awareness to take action and put you back in charge of your life giving you a sense of ‘being in control’ will ironically stop the need to control everything and everyone around you.   Looking at what is in your control and learning to let go of what is outside your control can be a useful practice.  

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