If you need to keep your peace of mind, and maintain a healthy personal and professional life, you need to know how to not be controlling in a relationship. Reading this post alone is an indicator you suspect you have developed controlling behavior, and are trying to fix that. It is all about letting go. It takes a lot of courage and diligence to outgrow your controlling behavior. However, the fulfillment that comes with it will be worth it. In this blog, we will discuss how to not be controlling in a relationship.
As with pretty much anything else, you need to learn what is causing the behavior, in order to learn how to not be controlling in a relationship.
Figure Out What is Causing You to Want to Control
Let’s start with the root cause of what gets you to develop the controlling behavior in the first place. According to famous motivational speaker Tony Robbins, there are six human needs, the need for certainty, the need to have variety, the need to feel significant, the need for connection and love, the need for growth, and the need for contribution. These needs are typically developed in early childhood, and the way every human being prioritizes these needs are different.
When you have unfulfilled basic needs for certainty and significance, that’s when you start controlling outside elements like your partner or your circumstances, to feel like there is some sense of certainty around you. Having certainty makes you feel safe and secure, when you know what you can expect. The feeling that someone needs you and loves you makes you feel significant. When these two needs start going unfulfilled in a healthy way, you start meeting these needs in unhealthy ways, like trying to control everything around you. While this may work as a strategy in the short term, at best it is just an illusion of safety temporarily. In fact, the need to control everything destroys human relationships over the long term. Then you feel even lonelier than ever before.
Become More Self-Aware
After you have worked out the root causes of your need to control everything, it will start giving you a sense of awareness of how this has been affecting you and people around you, including your partner. You might be thinking when you control everything, it makes you feel safer. While it might, that’s often at the expense of the partner you are controlling. They would be feeling suffocated due to this. This is why you need to reflect on it. Ask yourself, “Is my controlling behavior making a meaningful difference to the situation or relationship?” and be honest with yourself, as you answer this.
An example of this would be you calling your unemployed brother every week, to find out whether he has found a job yet or not. Now, if this behavior helps your brother find a decent job, or helps him with the attention, you should continue it. But if it becomes invasive, like you are breaking a barrier that is not yours to break, then you need to stop. Self awareness helps us develop more sensitivity in how we interact with people around us.
Reprogram Your Mind
Once you learn how to reprogram your mind, it will reprogram your current behaviors. Most people don’t examine their mindset, letting it run the show on autopilot. But when you need to let go, it all begins by figuring out which of your beliefs have become limiting, so much that they are causing you your negative behavior. When you set the right intentions with the right thoughts, and ask yourself if they are serving you or not, you will arrive at the correct answer.
For instance, if you are thinking how to not be controlling in a relationship, take a couple of minutes to examine what’s going on. You need to dig deeper by asking yourself questions like:
- What fear of mine is causing me to react like this?
- What aspect of this scenario is making me feel anxious?
Think of asking these questions as a brainstorming session with yourself. So you can come up with unfiltered, raw, real responses. You don’t need to judge what comes to your mind. Just be honest and kind to yourself. This is actually what mindfulness is all about: being more aware of your thoughts and feelings, that are driving your actions. This will help you let go.
Pay Attention to Your Vocabulary, and Cut Out Restricting Words
If you want to change your life, start by changing your words. You need to understand the role your language plays in your life. If you start giving unsolicited advice in an apparently harmless manner, like saying “have you every thought of…” or start criticizing your partner’s perspective on a matter, that is the point where you need to learn how to not be controlling in a relationship.
Part of banning control-oriented language from your vocabulary also involves learning how to change your own negative internal self-talk. When you feel the need to control, what is the conversation you have with yourself? Replace negative words with powerful, uplifting ones, and change your perspective. This will heal your anxiety as well, thereby resolving your need to control. When you pick up getting dramatic thoughts about a horrible thing that might happen, counter that by asking yourself “how real is my fear?” and “What is the worst thing that could happen?” When you learn to let go control, it will start by being proactive.
Strengthen Your Communication Skills
Learning how to not be controlling in a relationship is not always going to be straightforward. You will come across people who are going to need to maintain some type of control, like your kids, employees, or students, and there are going to be others who will require you to let go of control, such as your colleagues and partner. So many varying demands may end up making you uncomfortable. That’s why you need solid, clear communication. Our ability to connect with others gets cut off by the need to control. But cultivating emotional intelligence and empathy helps fix that. Let go of a little bit of your control over your kids. It should not be so bad that it ends up destroying your relationships with the people around you.
Develop Healthy Habits
In order to calm down anxiety, you need to develop healthy habits such as visualization, priming, and meditation. This will help you focus and get the breathing room you need to learn how to not be controlling in a relationship. Make a self-care routine, like meditating for 15 minutes or starting your day with positive affirmations. This will start giving you instant benefits, which you will notice in yourself!
Another way to let go of control is to feed your need for growth. Think of it as a negative pattern you need to outgrow. You can read books about how to not be controlling such as “Let’s Heal, Queens and Kings” by Aala Coax. Being more self aware will help you identify your self-sabotaging behaviors, to replace them with better, healthy ones.
Seek An Outsider’s Perspective
Getting a trusted friend is a helpful way you can approach letting go of your need to control. You should select someone you have a strong bond with and ask them about the ways in which they notice you become controlling. This helps people who are in self denial. But you need an honest enough friend for this. When you get an outsider’s perspective, it will help you figure out where you are going wrong and change that behavior.
If you have supportive friends, ask them to help highlight your behaviors when they happen. But do keep in mind that you might feel tempted to advise your loved one, the right way to love them is unconditionally. This means that you should not try to change them.
The Bottom Line
As time passes, you will observe that if you don’t learn how to not be controlling in a relationship, your circumstances will start driving your life. Let go of past trauma, so that it does not cause you anxiety in the present. There are very few things in your life that you can control, but they do include your approach to life and your attitude.