Are you a control freak sometimes? I definitely am. I work on it, but there are days when it is not easy for me. Like yesterday.
My boyfriend is ultimately the happiest person I know. He wakes up with a smile on his face 20 minutes before he is supposed to go to work. He sits on our terrace and drinks coffee. He enjoys the morning.
Not me. I know he needs to leave by 7:40 to be at work at 8:00. I came to him at 7:30. Don’t you have to get dressed? You will be late. And please, don’t forget to go to the shop before you go home from work and buy coffee. I will come later today.
Will you? How come?
I’m already getting annoyed. I told you yesterday. I’m going to see a friend.
Oh, really? I forgot. And he smiles.
OMG! I leave the terrace to get dressed so that I’m not late.
7:40 I went to talk to him again. Don’t you really need to go? Like, come on. Go to work.
I haven’t finished my coffee yet.
Just please go to work. You are stressing me out.
7:45 he stood up, came to me and started to talk: I have an idea. We should move our furniture on the terrace…
Come on! I interrupted him. Go to work. You will tell me later. I’m already pissed off and the day didn’t even start yet.
OK. OK. I am going.
He got dressed quickly and left the house.
Love you, he shouts.
From the kitchen window, I saw him getting in the car and starting the engine. I felt relieved. He will be only 10 minutes late. That’s not so bad. I hope the traffic is not bad today. But it’s Monday so it might be. I hope it won’t be too bad.
Then I froze. He forgot his lunch in the fridge.
I grabbed the lunch and ran after the car. He saw me and stoped.
Giving me a wide smile: Oops, I forgot. Thank you. You are awesome.
I gave him the lunch, an angry look and I felt like I want to break up right away. Why can’t he leave the house on time? Why can’t he remember to take his lunch with him?
Why can’t he live his life the way I want him to live it?
Yes, I am a control freak sometimes.
Most people would choose unhappiness over uncertainty.
– Tim Ferriss
Being a control freak means you want to eliminate the uncertainty by trying to control everything. The uncertainty scares you. You believe that if you just can have things under control you will be much better off. You perceive the world as an uncertain place so you want to have at least the small things in your life under control.
But if you take one step back. Can you really control things, people, and situations around you? Is this approach sustainable or is it a sure failure?
Let’s dive even deeper. What emotions are related to failure? Sadness? Frustration? Anxiety? All the negative emotions you can imagine.
All together being a control freak means you have one unhappy life.
But what to do about it?
Accept what is going on at a particular moment. Accept that there are only a few things in your life you can have under control. Most of them are directly tight to yourself. However, you can’t control other people for example. All you can do is accept what is going on and relax. By trying to control it, you are making it worse, not better.
Another step is to accept yourself. You don’t have to be that perfect human, because being a human in its own essence means being imperfect. Do what you can. Change what you can. And accept the rest.
2. Rest Is a Recovery
Control freaks usually don’t want to sit down and have some rest. Resting means letting thing to their own faith to them. So why rest, right? Yet you need enough rest to function properly. If you struggle to take some time off, look at your rest as your recovery. While having your time off, your muscles, your nervous system, your brain and your digestive system recover to serve you even better when you are fully running and need them.
3. Take One Step at a Time
A control freak is, in other words, an anxious person. Feeling anxiety makes you feel uncertain and that makes you want to control things. Chunking your project into smaller doable task will make you feel and actually have things under the control and calm down.
4. Challenge Your Thinking
Rather than letting overwhelm win over you when something goes wrong try to calm down and change your thinking using these few questions:
Is my thinking helpful?
Is it fear that is controlling me?
What is the way to solve this without feeling overwhelmed and trying to control things?
What is the worst thing that can happen?
5. Control Your Reactions
You can’t control people around you, the situations, problems or the weather. What you can control is your attitude. The way how you respond to the events in your life. You can control whether you freak out or calm down. So don’t look any further and start controlling your reactions.
6. Name What You Feel
If things are out of your control name what you feel. I feel uncertain. I feel frustrated. I feel angry. This will naturally mitigate that particular negative feeling. Why? Because after you name it you know what you feel. It is not uncertain and you are starting to feel the ground beneath your feet.
7. Avoid Doing Things That Support Your Anxiety
If reading emails in the morning makes you feel restless. Make a rule of not reading emails before 10 am. If blood sugar can cause you mood swings don’t eat sweets. In these cases avoiding stuff that’s not helping you is much easier than dealing with the consequences.
I hope this helps. Let me know how you fight being a control freak.