I CAN STAND MY GROUND –
& still be at peace
PREVIOUS: Part 1 – Self-care, Internal
If you HAVE to deal with a Controller (cont.):
EXTERNALLY – With THEM
• Be clear & mean what you say, so they’ll know you’re serious
• Be very firm that you’re NOT going to be controlled. Say NO & stick to it even if you feel scared. Most of the time it turns out ok, but some people can’t tolerate hearing ‘no’ & you have to get away from them as soon as you realize they’re not safe
• Don’t let them talk down to you. It’s insulting & belittling
• Point out that their ways make you uncomfortable & are unacceptable
• In a disagreement or argument, stick to your point and the current topic – don’t let them sidetrack you. Write or tape confrontations, to get clear
• Avoid arguing. It’s best to just let the C. carry on, until they’re run out of steam. As hard as it is to not engage, if you just listen but don’t respond, eventually most people will feel ashamed & contrite for carrying on so, especially when their outburst actually had nothing to do with you. This puts you back in control.
• Switch the focus away from what’s wrong with you, & get them talking about themselves on the issue in question. They’ll like that!
• Pick your battles. Unless a topic directly affects you, don’t comment. You can appear to agree & still keep to your own ideas – quietly.
• Try to stay as calm as possible when you’re in conflict with a C., especially since they’re likely to lose their cool because you’re challenging their desperately needed control
• Set your own time schedule for any discussions with a C. or to deal with a need of theirs. Your time is yours to control – NOT them
• Wait before you respond by phone, text or email. Write what you’d like to say & then leave it alone for a while, to think thru the consequences. If you still want to say something, reform it into simple sentences, short, declarative & to the point, using ‘I’ statement, from your Adult voice
• Be a careful listener (unless you’ve heard the same thing over & over!). It’s easy to tune out when you’re with someone annoying or aggravating. Repeat back what they’ve said & check to see if it’s correct. This reassures them that you understand their point or what they need from you - especially at work. BUT it doesn’t mean you have to agree or do it!
• If a C. ‘keeps you around’ – whether it’s personal or professional – it means they need you for something! That can give you the upper hand, even if neither of you really like each other. Don’t be afraid to remind the C. that you have value & want to treated with respect
• Emphasize positive things about yourself & let them know about all the good decisions you make on a regular basis
• Ask questions – objectively & without anger. Try to find out what they’re frustrated about, what they really want & why, to minimize misunderstandings. This shows them the same respect that you want
• If the situation warrants it, & it doesn’t hurt you, explain that you want to be a part of the solution and are willing to work with the C. once you understand the full picture of what’s needed
• Try getting them to switch roles with you for a few minutes. You play the controller & they play you. Then discuss the results.
• Eliminate Controllers from your life whenever possible. They are energy & self-esteem vampires, need to be ‘put in the light’ & let go of!
ANTIDOTEs to GETTING controlled
• Acknowledge when you are being controlled – without self-hate. If it has happened to you again & again, it means you were trained by your family to accept bad behavior, but you can re-train yourself away from those kinds of people by working with the WIC & developing a Loving inner Parent
• List specific ways someone’s controlling you. If you’re not sure, give your safest friends & family members permission to identify what they see happening to you. Measure that against what you already know but have a hard time admitting
• Identify the long-standing patterns in your thinking & behaviors that make you vulnerable to being controlled. That means careful inventory of your toxic rules & how you obey them (behaviors)
• Work on changing those patterns, so you can get out from under debilitating relationships, friendships, ‘spiritual’ or other groups, corporate cultures…OR leave as soon as you spot anyone trying to use control on you
• Letting someone continue to control you is a type of addiction – it means you’re as symbiotically attached to the current bossy person in your life as you have been to your parents (even if they’re far away or dead)
• If not already – get into therapy & Al-Anon, to prevent further damage from the controller or to yourself (raging, getting fired, self-cutting, isolating, auto-immune illnesses …. )
• Realize that control is not only a psychological problem but a spiritual one, since it negates your fundamental rights & individuality. You have a right to NOT be controlled.
SITE: Dr. Judy Esmond, Ph.D. suggests that we need to respond – not react – when dealing with controllers, by pausing, breathing, thinking & only then speaking. Her book Dealing With Difficult People offers 17 free tips that can be downloaded from her website, nodifficultpeople.com.
USE the LIST of Responses from the HEAL & GROW for ACoAs website: Pick a couple & memorize them so they come our of your mouth easily!
NEXT: ACoAs Acting Controlling