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EMPATHY vs Control
Empathy is the ability to identify with another person’s emotions, to put ourselves in their place. This is possible only to the degree that we’re in touch with our own Es, while respecting the feelings, rights & needs of others as valid & separate from our own.
HOWEVER, some sensitives are too easily influenced by the Es of others because they don’t have strong boundaries AND have not yet healed enough of their own wounds. This is not useful empathy.
Controlling is when our needs, requirements, feelings…. infringe on the rights of others. If we let our needs step on someone’s boundaries, they’re are under no obligation to accommodate or empathize with us, because we are being disrespectful & inappropriate. (This also applies to ACoAs when we encounter a controller!) C. are not in touch with most of their own Es so cannot ‘understand’ the pain they cause others.
EXAMPLES of being a Control Freak:
• Controllers (Cs) are not just opinionated – they always have to be right. They’re not willing to accept & cannot tolerate any differences or disagreements between themselves & others
• Cs are more likely to be moody (up & down), emotionally unpredictable. Because they’re unhappy with their own lives they think controlling others will improve their situation
• Cs use fear to keep others attached to them because of their FoA. If we’re fearful enough, we won’t want to venture out on our own. They tend to focus on negatives in the world – to keep us scared & under their thumb
• Cs may or may not have close friends.
If they do it’s :
— usually with those who are needy, easily bullied, have poor self-esteem & weak boundaries, OR
— they treat ‘outside’ people better than family members, so they are considered ‘wonderful‘ by anyone who did not grow up with them
• Cs generally are not friends with anyone more attractive, intelligent or well-liked than themselves, & are more likely to be jealous & critical of popular, successful people.
• Cs can sense when they’re losing control, which can trigger psycho-somatic ailments such as headaches, back or stomach pains, fainting, hives…. They can re-gaining control of a situation or relationship by getting the attention, sympathy and concern of others
• NOTE: Cs are very manipulative, playing head games to hide this character defect. They can’t stand it when anyone stands up to them.
The stronger our personality, the harder Cs will work to tear us down. It’s imperative to their unhealthy ego to stay one-up.
✶ This is particularly true of severely narcissistic parents who will make every effort to destroy a strong-minded child so that he/she can not expose or defy the controller.
• Cs play on our empathy to gain trust early in the friendship, like: telling us what a hard life they had – in great detail, but they can only trust telling us, because we’re different, special!
• Cs attempt to define our reality. They tell us what we like & want – or not – according to their tastes. We can say that we need to be lone & they insist on taking up our time… we save something & they throw it away, saying: ‘you don’t need that or it’s not important!’
• Cs remember all the sensitive info we give them about ourselves. They will seem sincere & caring at first, then bring it up and use it to subtly insult us until we agree with them: “Are you still crying about that? It was just a cat / a long time ago / not such a big deal…Right?”
• Cs often assume that they understand how we think & feel & are not shy about telling us, BUT they really don’t know! : “Your anger is bringing everyone down” when in fact we’re withdrawn because of feeling deep pain, shyness, confusion…! Also, they can get frustrated & abusive when we don’t act the way they picture us: “Do that in the morning when you’re fresh” said angrily by a morning-person mother to her night-person teen
• Cs can also use excessive generosity as a way to make us indebted to them, so we feel guilty if we don’t reciprocate (AND do what they want!)
But at the same time:
• Cs will accuse us of causing someone else’s bad behavior which hurt us (being cheated on, yelled at, fired ….): “What did you do?”
• Cs don’t hear us when we say NO. They’re unwilling to respect any boundaries – ours or theirs
• Cs get frustrated & annoyed with normal questions
• Cs will try to cause trouble between us and our family or friends
• Cs regularly expect us to change our plans to suit their schedule
• Cs make us wait for them – for a response, for decisions, for fulfilling plans or promises…. and they’re usually late, but always have what they think is a legitimate excuse
• Cs rarely give sincere compliments. They don’t want us to feel good about ourselves or take the attention away from them
NEXT: Letting go of Controlling (#1)