Last Updated on April 19, 2022
I’ve never been the kind of person to describe myself as a control freak. For the most part, I have a calm and carefree nature, and I tend to go with the flow when life throws curveballs at me. But lately, I’ve been starting to wonder where the easygoing part of me disappeared to.
I’m going to guess that the majority of us would prefer to be in control of our lives rather than having someone else determine everything for us. This is definitely true for me, but I don’t think I’d realized quite how much control played a part in my life until I felt like I’d lost it (control, that is. Perhaps my entire mind as well, but I digress).
I was feeling anxious and out of touch with myself for a few months, and I eventually realized it was because I was trying to control things that were 100% out of my control.
I was in a pattern of expecting certain outcomes and spending too much time forcing things to work out the way I wanted them to in my head. I was also focusing too much on other people and how I wanted them to respond to the things I said and did.
By focusing on everything else but myself, I lost sight of the calm and collected version of Catherine. I was forcing myself into a cycle of disappointment, and everything seemed to be weighing on my shoulders.
I started to explore how control played out in my life in order to get clarification on what was holding me down. I asked myself where this need for control came from.
I narrowed it down to three things:
- My ego
- Lack of trust
My ego was telling me that things needed to go exactly as I wanted them to or else I was a failure, and it was telling me that people should do exactly what I wanted. Perfectionism was putting me into a place where I felt there was only one way to do things. Lack of trust reared its ugly head when I was afraid things would fall apart if I did not force them to be a certain way.
Part of the problem was that I wanted to make other people happy. I was forcing myself to do things because I wanted a specific reaction from people. I essentially wanted to be in control of their reactions. I forgot that focusing on myself doesn’t make me a selfish, unkind, or uncaring person, it just means I’m not forcing relationships or prioritizing other people above my own needs. I started to realize that it’s not my responsibility to take care of other people, nor should I be trying to change anyone.
How To Be Less of a Control Freak
So how can we let go of wanting to be in control? How can we stop focusing on the outcome we want and instead let things flow as they are supposed to?
By focusing on the things you can control. Remind yourself that you are in control of your own life, and believe that things will happen as they are intended to. Of course you can set goals and strive to get a particular outcome, but do not force something that doesn’t feel right. Realize that there needs to be space to flow.
In figuring out the role control plays in my life, I’ve come up with three tips that have helped me tame my inner control freak. Here they are:
1. Make a list of the things you can control.
Think about a time when you felt totally in control of your life. What was happening? What were you in control of? This is one exercise that really helped me realize that I do have power over many aspects of my life. Here’s what I came up with:
My health: I can eat more fruit and veggies and less dairy. I can drink more water. I can choose how often I workout. I can choose how much I sleep (it’s hard, but it is ultimately a choice). I can choose my skincare routine.
My appearance: I control what I wear. I control the makeup I put on my face. I control the way I style my hair and the nail polish color I wear.
My mental stimulation: I can read a book when I want to. I can learn something new every day.
My productivity: I can decide if I want to snooze my alarm or not. I can decide when I take breaks. I can decide if I want to follow a routine or not.
My emotional well-being: I can choose what I focus my thoughts on. I can choose how often I meditate or practice mindfulness. I can choose to write when I feel upset and need to clear my head.
And most importantly, I can choose how I react to situations. This is probably the most powerful thing you can ever learn. The next tip explains how to do this.
2. Break the reaction pattern.
The way we react to situations ultimately leads to either harmful or beneficial results. When we feel like we don’t have control over something, we are likely to experience anxiety, mood swings, and frustration. All of this comes from the thoughts we have about the situation we’re in. In order to break the reaction pattern that often leads to harmful consequences, we can learn how to change our reaction patterns.
Typically a stressful reaction pattern looks like this:
Stressful trigger ➡ Stress reaction ➡ Negative thoughts ➡ Negative feelings ➡ Reactive harmful behavior ➡ Harmful consequences.
In order to break this reaction pattern, there are a few things we can do:
- Be aware of the trigger.
- Breathe when you feel your body start to tense.
- Practice self-compassion when your thoughts begin to turn negative.
- Recognize that your thoughts and feelings are nothing more than thoughts and feelings.
- Avoid over-identifying with your thoughts.
The next time you feel stressed out because of something you can’t control, try practicing the things above.
3. Write down or recite affirmations.
One powerful tool you can use to help you feel more in control is to write or recite affirmations. I find these are most powerful in the morning to get your day started on the right foot, but they can also be helpful if you’re in the midst of mini-breakdown. Here are some affirmation ideas:
- I am 100% in control of my own life.
- I go with the flow and accept what comes my way.
- I focus my energy on what is most beneficial for me.
- I am safe and secure in myself.
Related Post: 25 Affirmations To Improve Your Mindset
And there you have my tips for dealing with an inner control freak! Though I haven’t quite perfected the art of letting go, I know what I need to work on and how I can cope a little better. I’d love to hear from you about the role control plays in your life.
Are you a self-proclaimed control freak? How do you deal with letting go of control? Leave a comment below!
I seriously get SO excited every time you post and I’m never disappointed. This is such incredible advice. Thank you <3
When I'm feeling a little controlling, I find meditation and yoga helps as well as saying yes to social engagements especially when I want to say no. I'm an introvert so I'm happy to stay at home, but I know it's good for me to be a little spontaneous and be around people sometimes. Feels good to get out of the comfort zone too.
Ahh than you so much, Leah! I think spontaneity is definitely good for my soul sometimes lol
Going through healing rite now and your article was so opening
I’m gonna try this week
Thank you, Amrita!
Loved your tips. I always love your posts, they help so much and this is not an exception! Good luck with your beggining of control more your life, Catherine!
Big kisses from Portugal! <3
My blog: https://chamammepequenita.blogspot.pt
Thank you so much, Francisca! <3
Love this. I had a great experience with breaking a reaction pattern earlier today and it feels so good to know that you can control the outcomes by reacting differently sometimes. Thanks for these tips!
Ooh that’s awesome to hear, Coley!
Thanks for these tips. I can tend to be a bit of a control freak, so these are pretty helpful. Thanks for breaking the stressful reaction pattern. I’ve never looked at it this way, but i loved that perspective.
Thanks so much, Marie! <3
Really amazing tips, sometime I forget just how much I control!
Thank you, Anna! It can really be crazy to think about sometimes!
Completely hit the nail on the head for me. Started tip 3 a couple weeks ago and has defiantly helped with my out of control episodes.
So glad to hear it’s helping, Nicole!
This really hit home for me! This month my Lunar Yoga students and I are focusing on themes of “Leadership & New Beginnings” and learning to let go of control is a HUGE part of that. Thank you for being so open and transparent about your own journey. I’ll be sharing this article with my tribe, it’s beautifully written and has some great tips that I will start implementing myself <3
Thank you so much for sharing and for taking the time to read, Kassandra! That sounds like an awesome theme.
Wow! What I really learned is if we knew how little control we actually have we may just learn to live without so much worry and allow life to happen!
Sometimes I feel like no one else in the world gets it. And then I stumble upon an article such as this. Thank you for your words. I’m learning and trying to be a better version of myself every day. It’s hard but in order to strengthen relationships and have a better feeling of myself, it’s worth it.
simple and useful !!! love it
I really love this post, Catherine. It speaks to me in so many ways. I’m just finishing your 7 day mindfulness program and this post is the perfect way to finish. Your posts have given me much to think about and many ideas on how to return to mindfulness. Thank you!
I am so so glad to hear that, Cindy. Thank you!
Really thought provoking ideas here. As a wife, mum and nurse I feel I must have my our ducks in a row. This weekend I have felt not so in control so have taken ourselves away to our lake holiday home so that it gives me time to stop and rest. As I get older I realise that I have let the control not rule me. I think the message here is to listen to your inner self and recognise when you need to change your thought patterns and actions. Thank you, very timely.
Wow! This was just what I needed. Thank you! The way you explained it was very helpful and kind.
Yesterday, I had recognized and realized that I am a control freak. Due to trust issues in adolescence. No matter the reason, today I woke up and did not feel the necessity to correct others, criticize, be upset and every bad thing I had been doing to myself.
This approach felt amazing.
There was the inner peace i had been trying gain all along via control. I had been doing it wrong XD
Thank you!!! 100 times. :)
Truly a great message. I have become a control freak in the past few years. My childhood did not have a very good beginning, and through the years that followed, I felt a need to control everything and everyone around me. In the past few months, this has brought trouble to my marriage of 60 years and I have been searching my mind to find a way to change this. We are never too old, or married too long to change a behavior and become the person we feel we deserve to be.
I will study and begin using your tips to bring inner peace to myself and those around me.
Thank you so much Katherine for your encouraging words and your willingness to share them with others. I am a new comer to this group and am very glad I ran across Blissful Mind on line quite
Another fantastic read! One that definitely takes a bit of practice but all are steps in the right direction.
I think it’s also about being aware about how you speak to yourself. Affirmations are a great way of filling your mind with positivity.
Thanks for this,
Glad you enjoyed the post, Olivia!
I appreciate your tips and how you established the why to your control. As a mother who was overlooked and under protected I find being a control freak is frustrating to myself and my children. I will continue to practice going deeper into releasing control