NO ONE CAN CONTROL ME –
unless I let them
PREVIOUS: Getting controlled – #3
REVIEW: ‘Relationship FORMS 1 & 2’
REMINDER: Go to Acronym PAGE for abbrev.
RESPONDING TO CONTROLLERS (Cs)
• Even when we’re with someone who is controlling, we always have at least some control of what happens to us, whether we use that option or not. As Glenda the Good Witch says in The Wizard of Oz “You always had the power!” If we must stay with a C., we have to protect ourselves, otherwise all we can do is capitulate or leave.
EXP: As soon as Jody met sexy Sam at a party, she could tell that he was controlling – just like her mom. Even so, they started dating & eventually he moved in. His charm compensated, but Jody still needed to deal with his habit of assuming she was exactly like him (narcissistic control). She went along if it didn’t matter to her, but stood her ground when it did. For a while at the beginning of the relationship, to shift the focus from any specific topic of contention – to the bigger picture – she started calling him ‘Martha’ whenever he acted like her mom! It took him a while to catch on, but eventually he got the point & backed off (but most C. won’t!)
Re. THEM – Cs are also wounded people who don’t have a right to their needs, but choose to manipulating others to provide for them & to feel cared for. Pay attention & evaluate which type you’re dealing with:
• Some are not consciously aware of being controlling, & will be confused or surprised if confronted. They have no idea what they are doing ‘wrong’, but also don’t want to know, so they’re not likely correct their behavior
• Others are aware of trying to deceive or control but will vigorously deny it because they don’t want to be caught (it’s socially shameful) & they don’t want to be responsible for their actions or old pain. So they’re not likely to change either, because they’d have to deal with their damage
• A few will be willing to consider what they’re doing, when it’s pointed out & will work to change it
• And some of us are already in the processes of letting go of being controlling!
DECIDE: When responding to a C, consider what outcome you want:
— to inform, vent, set a boundary, for self-protection, fairness…. OR
— for revenge, to punish, retaliate, humiliate….
✶ If you want to be as psychologically clean as humanly possible (NO perfectionism!) then practice making neutral or ‘I’ statements:
“I don’t respond well to being bossed around” , “That’s not helpful”!
“It sounds like you’re trying to get me to_________. Is that right?”
“When you ___________, I feel ___________” , “I’d rather__________”
“That’s not what works for me / how I feel about it / what I need…”
EXPECT: resistance in the form of excuses, protests, denials, blaming …. from the hard cases. You can let them know you understand their feelings & wishes, but that you maintain the right to have yours, even if that upsets them, makes them angry, attack you or leave in a huff!
• No matter what their reaction, you decide what you’re going to agree to – OR NOT, based on your needs, not theirs!
REMEMBER: When someone insists on accusing you wrongly (a big button for ACoAs) or just refuses to ‘get it’, only state your truth as clearly as you can. You may have to repeat your position, but do not try to make them understand where you’re coming from, do not keep explaining why your point is valid, and do not justify yourself – ever! To stay & argue with someone like that just makes a fool of you!
• The more relentless someone’s controlling behavior, the more narcissistic the person is. In that case you cannot win, because they cannot and will not see you as a separate individual with your own personality. The only healthy thing to do is walk away, no matter how much it hurts, even if it means letting them think they won the round.
➼ To do anything else is to humiliate ourselves!
MIRROR: If you’re around a controller long enough you’ll inevitably absorb the pain & rage they’re projecting onto you (so they don’t have to deal with their own issues). If we let this continue it’s because we still have too much S-H, AND as a co-dependent Rescuer we may think it’s helping them feel better – to ease the C’s pain by providing attention, understanding & compassion. But it’s never going to be enough to fill their bottomless pit AND it’s not our job to parent them! All we’re doing is rewarding them for toxic behavior, giving them permission to keep up the bad behavior, & allowing ourselves to be their emotional garbage can! NOTE: The ‘evil’ is their disease, not the person.
CORRECTION: We need to reflect back to the C. what we hear them say & contrast that with our Truth. Also say how we feel as a result of their behavior, & if possible what emotions we observe in them. “You just told me I’m no good for nothing. I know that’s not true about me AND it’s not a nice thing to say to anyone!” , “I heard you tell me I’m stupid for not knowing _____. Why do you need to put me down?” , “You sound really angry at me. What’s really bothering you?”
• Another way of saying this is: Throw the ball back in their court. Let them be responsible for their defense mechanisms – their unhealthy ways of communicating. Do not take it on & then feel bad about yourself.
Exp: While at a party Tina started to talk to a group of friends. One of the men asked her what she did & she told him she was an Astrologer. He started making fun of her & her profession, which Tina did not appreciate. Instead of justifying her choice of career, or getting angry & attacking him, she put her hand on his shoulder, looked him in the eye, & calmly said: “Why are you talking to me that way?” He was stunned, & backed right up, barely knowing what to say – but actually apologized!
NEXT: Responding to Controllers (Part 2)