Friday, February 7, 2014

Controlling My Desire to Control.

A reader asked, "How do I know whether or not I'm being controlling, when I think that I'm being helpful?"

One way that worked (and still works) marvellously for me, was through using our slogan "How Important Is It?" This requires rigorous honesty with myself, none of the common self-justification which so often begins with those three words "I was just...."

How important is it that the towels be folded to my specifications, rather than the way Robert chooses to fold them?

Are they equally as absorbent, when folded his way? Do they still fit the linen cupboard and the towel rack? Yes to all three questions, and the reality is that it isn't of any importance whatsoever that they be folded the way I'd fold them instead. Let it go.

With regard to my relationships, whether they be with my beloved partner, siblings, friends or sponsees, when I ask myself, before I speak,  "How Important Is It?" it has the same ability to clarify my thinking. I may not agree with the way another person is running their life, but as I said to a friend yesterday, I'm not the language, behavior, or attitude police for anyone but myself. It's not up to me to try to change the way another person thinks or acts. If I feel that it is important to speak up, because of wanting to set or maintain a boundary, that's appropriate. But speaking in an effort to change another person is not only an exercise in futility, it's the fastest way I know of to ruin intimacy and destroy their trust and comfort in us.

It was hugely freeing for me to finally understand and accept, that my opinion is not the correct opinion, it's only mine. If my opinion is sought, I have the option of offering it, or being honest when I don't have one. (That has been an education in another area entirely, realising that for some, saying that I don't have an opinion sounds like a lie - doesn't everyone have an opinion about everything?)

I spent time with my sponsor yesterday, and she said that she admired me for something I've been doing, and I promptly began to argue about it, until I sputtered to a stop, and laughingly admitted that I still can have trouble accepting compliments. She grinned at me, and said "I'll admire who I want to!"

I chaired the meeting of my home group last night, and I have found chairing meetings to be a good way to learn to let go of control, so that the meeting may find its own level, and members to speak as they feel moved to. This may mean that the topic is not rigidly adhered to; at times the topic may seem to have been completely forgotten. That's okay, too. I can believe and accept that everyone is going to hear whatever it is that they need to hear, and that were I to try to control the direction of the meeting, I might interfere with that magical process.

I know I'm being controlling when I feel a determination to have the other person do what it is that I wish for them to do, rather than allow them to make their own choices. When I feel like it is important that I get my own way, I am being controlling. When I feel impatient and frustrated, I am most likely being controlling.

When I am serene, I am at peace with myself, and those around me.


  1. My dad calls it "being helpy" when what I do is more of a hindrance. I've had to learn that too, especially when I'm training somebody at work. I have to remind myself that my serenity may not be their serenity and that if they do something different than how I would have done it, I shouldn't allow it to control my chi. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Controlling behavior is something that I recognize in others and know that is another way I know that I too suffer from being a controller. If I spot it, then I've got it.