SELF-CARE around Controllers (Part 2)

stand my ground 

& still be at peace

PREVIOUS: Self-care, Internal #1

SITE: So What Is “Self Care”?

If you HAVE to deal with a Controller (cont):
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 talkto Csdeal 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.walk away

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 be kindpausing, breathing, thinking & only then speaking.  Her book “Dealing With Difficult People” offers 17 free tips that can be downloaded from her website,

USE the LISTs of Effect Responses website) and Useful & Clever Responses (post) for suggestions. Pick a couple & memorize them so they come our of your mouth easily!

NEXT: Over-Controlling OURSELVES – #1


4 thoughts on “SELF-CARE around Controllers (Part 2)

  1. Hi Donna, thanks again for another very useful post. I also read your list of responses to controlling people, and would like to leave a few of my own that I’ve found pretty effective.

    What I often say nowadays when I detect a boundary problem is, “I find that confusing.” or “I’m confused by that.” I might also use the words “mystified” or “concerned.” If things go well, the other person will be “drawn into” examining my confusion, or concern, or mystification… (“you said this when I meant that”). This approach has definitely worked for me a number of times. I think it helps the other party feel non-blamed and so I avoid defensive reactions that can occur when I express my boundaries more directly. I think the other side feels they’re being given the benefit of the doubt and they’re receiving an invitation to “trouble-shoot.” If they take it up, sometimes we can get to the bottom of the issue with little conflict and even meet everyone’s needs.

    When this approach doesn’t work, I haven’t said or done anything that prevents me from saying, “Okay, now that I’ve had a chance to process my confusion, this is what i hear happening and now I’m going to use stronger language to defend my boundaries.”


    • Thanks Sibylle. Many yrs ago people (not friends) used to say “You’re crazy”. When I got tired of that I finally figured out to respond, “Yes, but I’m never boring!”.


  2. I am getting a little tired of telling you this resonates with me 😉

    It reminded me immediately of a woman who was my manager’s line manager and a destroyer of teams (I’d witnessed her over a number of years breaking teams up and I always felt uncomfortable when she was around). Me and my boss (who is now my lovely husband) upset her and were leaving her employ soon (partly because sleeping with you boss is not good practice!). On my last but one day, 30 mins before home time she came into our office demanding I meet with her in the room next door to explain a complaint she’d received about me.

    I refused (first time my A2 had taken over from my A1 who’d always handled these types of situations up till then). I was scared but stuck to my guns and carried on refusing. She stormed off telling me to be at her desk 9am next morning! Guess who didn’t do as she was told…ME!

    The NHS trust pursued me for several months, making my life hell. But I survived and they eventually backed down as they had no evidence to back their outlandish claims.

    Thank you for describing so well, as usual, what happens for us when we are controlled.


    • Re: “I am getting a little tired of telling you this resonates with me”

      but I never get tired of hearing it! 🙂
      Glad you stuck it out & won. I’m sure having support helped!


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