My current relationship has taught me a lot about handling my control issues. When we first started dating, I exhibited no restraint, and drove myself, and my partner crazy. At the beginning of my relationship, my boyfriend often picked me up from my house. Eventually, I expected him to consistently go out of his way to pick me up, even if he was busy with other tasks. When he “rejected” me, I would sit on the phone, begging for him to come. I was forceful, demanding that he complied with my requests. I wanted things my way, and it made me upset and nervous to see him deviate from my preconceived plan.
Unfortunately, we cannot control everything around us, and I’m trying hard to realize that more every day. My need for control is not some aberrant behavior; this is something that many people struggle with. My mom admitted to having control issues in her relationships, and revealed that it makes the relationship much harder to navigate. At a certain point, you have to accept that many things happen beyond your control. You have to learn to let things happen, and go with the flow. The only thing you can control is your reaction to what happens around you.
In my relationship, I tried to control when my boyfriend played his game, who he spent time with, and where he went. Looking back, I realize this only drove us further apart. Often, he did not want to tell me where he was going or what he was doing because he knew I was going to have a fit about it. Trying to control someone’s every movement will make them unhappy in the relationship. Plus, it is crucial to put yourself in their shoes, and imagine how you would feel if someone wanted to operate you like a puppet.
To avoid acting upon your need for control, it’s important to communicate how you feel about something, but respect whatever decision your partner makes for themselves. If, like me, you struggle with your need for control, here are three essential tools to combat those urges:
This may seem quite ambiguous, and difficult to achieve, which is understandable! Genuinely finding peace within yourself is a learned skill, and does not come naturally. You have to empty your mind of the things you’re trying to control and accept that it is out of your hands. Learn to drop that stress and take a deep breath. Try to lie down and rest for a moment. Think about the things you know you can control: what you’re doing, where you’re going, and how you feel. Thinking about topics within your control will help redirect your mindset. I also recommend mindful, healing practices such as yoga and meditation to cope with chronic anxiety and stress.
2. Delete negative thinking
This goes hand in hand with trying to relax! Gently recognize when a negative thought arises, and push it to the side. If a negative thought is ruminating in your mind, try writing down or speaking positive affirmations, such as “I am complete on my own,” or “I am calm and in control of my breath.” Recognize that you have the potential to overcome any obstacle that may come your way. As you catastrophize different scenarios, realize that your fear is worse than the potential reality. And there is a 99.9% chance the story you built in your mind does not align with the truth.
3. Find positivity
The most important aspect of handling your control issues is “going with the flow.” When you start thinking about things out of your control, redirect your thoughts toward situations you can handle. Write down a list of positive things in your life, such as the ability to dance and sing, or your favorite hobby. Compile a list of positive activities to fill your time, to keep the thought of control out of your head. Creating a schedule that involves uplifting, healthy activities will prevent you from disappearing into your thoughts, and worrying about things you shouldn’t be.
At the end of the day, the only thing you can control is how you react to the situation at hand. It is a bummer when something cannot go your way, but that is an essential part of life. If things always went our way, we would never learn anything! Life will not always be easy. Learn to accept the ups and downs, the ebb and flow of uncertainty. You have the power to transform your mindset, one step at a time.
Written by: Audre ArnettInstagram: @infinityaudreee