I HAVE LOTS OF OPTIONS –
I just need to practice
PREVIOUS: Responses to Controllers-#2
SITE: How to Cope w/ a Controlling Person
REMINDER: Go to Acronym PAGE for abbrev.
If you HAVE to deal with a Controller:
• Know you have the right & power to say how you want to be treated. This comes from knowing your worth as a person – just because you exist
• Take full responsibility for all your thoughts, words, emotions & actions – and what long-standing buttons the C. is pushing
• Focus on how to meet your own needs, rather than on what the C. is doing or not doing. And don’t overcompensate for someone else’s limitations or failures. It doesn’t help anyone, only drains you
• Work at building strong boundaries so you don’t take on the Cs problems
• Be true to your own personality – quiet, strong, talkative, fun-loving, up-beat, intellectual, funny…. Trying to out-control control freaks generally doesn’t work. They’ve had a lot more practice
• Identify what really matters or what you real goal is in each situation & then ask: “How important it this?”, “Do I need to be right, validated, applauded, justified…, or can I let go in order to be at peace?”, “How will reacting to this person make my life better (or worse)?”. If it’s not really a life & death situation – literally, you can redirect your energy by quietly talking to the Inner Child, & focus on using Recovery tools
• Write out all your frustrations, hurt & anger about how the C treats you – and the mental arguments to prove your side of the story, without censorship. Picture all that pain draining into the paper & then burn it – safely!
• Let yourself feel your emotional reactions to the C. rather than pushing them away – separately from the C. (meetings, therapy, journaling…). Know that the pain is coming from the WIC, so take a step back from those Es, putting them ‘outside‘ of yourself rather than drowning in them or sweeping them under the carpet. This defuses the intensity. The best way to protect yourselves is to be fully awake to the effects a C. has on you. That’s what Es are for!
• Conventional wisdom says: “Stop endlessly talking to everyone about a negative event or conflict”, which is meant to stop the drain on your energy. This is valid if all you’re doing is whining, complaining, obsessing, dumping…. rather than carefully evaluating what’s really going on.
NOTE: However, for ACoAs, as long as a situation is pushing old buttons, our Es can be overpowering, getting in the way of functioning. What works is to keep sharing what’s upsetting the WIC – in the right environment – for as long as it takes to processes it out & bleed off the accumulated hurt & rage that keeps the obsession alive. We may also need outside validation that we’re not crazy, that someone really is being abusive, that our reactions are normal…..
• Look for the lesson in any difficult situation – but not at the expense of your emotions. And that does NOT mean self-blame or judgment. Ask : “What are they telling me about themselves? , Have I been ignoring the signals about this person’s patterns? , Did I stay too long? , Did I somehow set them off? , How are they like my family? Are they just a bad fit with me?”…. Get something out of each encounter with a C. that can help you be stronger, healthier, more awake, more self-protective…. for the future
• Do something physical – run, swim, dance, exercise….it clears the mind & burns off the anger, numbness, fear, frustration…. that deplete us
• Spend time away from the C. Taking a break regularly is important for your mental health. Do things you enjoy even if the C. isn’t supportive.
• Observe a controller’s repeated patterns in their actions & communications, especially when the 2 don’t match up! Always go by their ACTIONS rather than what they say – especially when you’ve been the recipient of long-standing patterns of abuse &/or neglect. What’s behind their mask of charm, fake concern, grand gestured, high positions….. is the ugly truth. You can’t afford to be in denial by overlooking or excusing their ‘game’ of manipulation & image control.
• Quietly notice what the C does & says, like research. Write down what you hear, & the kind of things set them off (their buttons) so you can be prepared when it happens again AND so you can avoid setting them off as much as possible
• Imagine yourself in their place. How might they be experiencing you? What do they want from you? What are they reacting to in you?
Remember – you’re not responsible for their perspective, but it might give you some insight into their motivation, & you may be better able to sidestep or deflect their controlling-ness next time
• When possible, don’t respond – at all. Some C. try to pick fights to get a rise out of you. They like the drama. You don’t have to participate!
• Depending on the person or situation, try applying verbal honey by complementing the C. for something they’ve done well or something you’ve learned from them. It may or may not work, but you have to be sincere in your comments
• Stay in the moment rather than getting caught up in their negative projections of the future
Ask yourself: “What’s the WORST that can happen to me” IF:
a. I DON’T respond at all? Depending on who you’re dealing with & the circumstances, there can be different outcomes.
b. I DO respond to the C? Consider if it will escalate the difficulty or make it better. If you do say something, it has to come from your Inner Adult for it to have a chance of working in your favor.
✶ Use your knowledge of this person to gauge your options. Think it thru all the way to the end of the line – what has happened before when you did or didn’t comment. The more you stay present for what you know – & use it – the better off you’ll be!
NEXT: Self-Care Around Controllers (Part 2)