Of all the relationship hurdles we so-masterfully create, control issues can be the most difficult—and terrifying—to release. Here are some tidy-tips to satisfy your Type A heart.
I have been Type A for as long as I can remember. My trusty planner has been regularly at my side. My closet has been cut and color-coded. I get things done early so as not to worry about getting them done later. I thrive on efficiency and schedules, so when it comes to relationships I often have control issues.
With friends and lovers I have often been the leader. I took on the role because I didn’t want to fall into that Jungle Book vulture trap where we sit around all day saying, “whatcha wanna do.” I learned that making decisions can be easier than waiting around for others to decide, and often that is helpful and people respect it and enjoy it, but other times it takes away from them getting their needs met and they can become annoyed and feel stifled.
In the past couple of months I’ve started to see someone on a more serious level and that’s when my major control issues started to unravel big time. I realized that when I get snappy or short with my partner it was because I am feeling a loss of control; when I don’t have control I feel helpless and when I felt helpless I feel anger at not being able to do anything to fix whatever the issue at hand happens to be.
So there I am, in a conundrum of wanting to control not having control.
Letting go of control issues is not easy. Many of us hold onto what we feel we can control because there seems to be so little of it already and we need it to feel secure. I am honestly still working through this myself, but here’s how I’m doing it.
3 Ways to Let Go of Control
1. Recognize & Consider
The first step is to be mindful of when the control issue is emerging. Is there anger, resentment, annoyance that things aren’t going the “right” way? Is that the way they really have to go or just the way you want them to?
What I found most important was to think about the things I have control of for real.
- I have control of my body, what goes in it and how I use it. From food and drink to sex and exercise, that is all me.
- I have control of how I spend my day.
- I have control of who I spend time with.
- I have control of how I react in situations.
- I have control over how I feel (in that no one else can make me feel any certain way, that all comes from within and I must recognize it and deal with it as such.)
2. Slowly Release
Once I realized what I actually have control of it was much easier for me to let go when it was something outside of that. For example, I don’t have much control when someone cuts me off while I’m driving, I can get angry or I can just move on. I don’t have control when my partner eats his food in under a minute while I still have a full plate, all I can do is eat at my pace and enjoy the flavor.
Letting go doesn’t happen over night, but if there is at least recognition of what triggers the negative emotions then there can be progress in not letting it be so much of a bother.
3. Find Peace
Or what I like to call, take a time-out. Even if it’s only for a minute. Step back and just breathe. If you can go to a room alone and take some time to figure out the root of why the negative emotions are abounding that can be quite helpful. I like to repeat, “I do not control that,” whenever an issue seems to be getting out of hand. If you’re into meditating taking a ten, can be quite powerful too.
4. Get Positive
I like to counter any issue with some positive reinforcements. I heard once that for every negative thought, think four positive. It’s all about balance and getting to terms with what’s most important. Letting go of control is important for health and growth because it gives people more opportunity to learn from others. If one is stuck thinking things can only go certain ways then they miss the chance to see other perspectives and challenge themselves.
5. Take it Easy
As a controlling Type A person it may be desirable to want to control the letting go of control. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it doesn’t go so smoothly. In fact, it might be kind of ugly at first, but that’s okay. Eventually it will all work out, just be patient with yourself and warn those near and dear to you that you’re working through some stuff, but in the end it will be better for everyone.