Identification of Controlling

By Greg Baer M.D.

April 8, 2015

In many places I have written about the unspeakably harmful effects of controlling people. Briefly, when we control people:

  • We trample their right to make their own choices, which is easily the most important right belonging to anyone.
  •  We make people feel small and insignificant, which hurts them badly.
  • We are being very selfish, because we control people only for our own benefit.
  • Our selfishness separates us from others, which leaves us feeling more alone.
  • We become accustomed to controlling and find it difficult to break this nasty habit.
  • Our addiction to controlling makes loving and happiness impossible.

Because of the severely negative effects of controlling, it can be helpful to know how we might identify controlling in ourselves. A few suggestions:

  • Are you afraid? If so, you will automatically react to reduce your fear, and the most common way to do that is to manipulate people and circumstances—controlling.
  • Are you thinking of yourself, rather than the other person? Then almost certainly you will control the other person in some way to get what you want.
  • Are you making excuses about why you are interacting in a certain way with someone? Then it is almost certain that you are controlling them and trying to justify it.
  • Are you talking to other people about an interaction or relationship you have with a certain person? Then you’re trying to control other people to agree with you and justify your behavior with that person.
  • Are you trying to “fix” someone? Even when you’re sure that you’re trying to help, fixing people is a form of controlling.
  • Are you trying to convince someone that you’re right, or to win an argument? Controlling.
  • Do people tend to avoid you? People tend to avoid being controlled, so you might consider their avoidance as an indication of your controlling.

Regrettably, if you are determined to be right, rather than to grow, you’ll find justifications for your controlling and will not likely see it in yourself. If you have even a tiny genuine desire to be happier, get the help of wise people who can help you see behaviors that you would otherwise be blind to.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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