Relationships like machines, require balance. Power struggles and control issues indicate a lack of balance in a relationship. Power struggles and control issues stem from one or both partners having poorly developed self-control. Over-controlling results from lack of self-control. Control freaks, usually unbeknownst to themselves, attempt to control other people when they feel out of control of themselves. Those that they attempt to control may fight back, realizing that the control freak is trampling on their boundaries. Hence it may appear that a power struggle is ensuing.
However, this is not a true power struggle. A true power struggle is when two persons wrestle over control of a neutral, separate issue, situation or person.Those who are attempting to avoid being controlled by the control freak are simply asserting their boundaries. This is healthy behavior. But it doesn’t usually look very pretty. No matter how calmly boundaries are enforced the control freak doesn’t like it. She rages, sulks, hits below the belt, tries to intimidate and/or shame her partner back into her web of control. She’s not in control of herself. She feels it and panics. She instinctively grasps for something or someone external control. Why?
Let’s look at control freaks from a developmental perspective. Self-control is the basis for real control or power. Control freaks lack true self-control. There are three types of control freaks. There is your garden variety control freak. He’s not in charge of his emotions so he wants control of yours.He may exhibit addictive behaviors, chronic outbursts of rage, tantrums (yes adults can throw tantrums), storms of weeping, Attention Deficit with Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) behaviors, giddy roller-coaster emotions. The ADHD control freak was typically over-controlled as a kid. He was not given room to develop his own self-control. He was constantly under a watchful, critical, distrusting parental eye.
Control freaks may manifest control issues by appearing rigid or ultra-controlled. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a sign of lack of self-control. By rigidly managing minuscule details, down to the letter, they are attempting to control the more important issues: their emotions and actions. They can not survive without out punctilious order and woe to you if you are a bit of a slob. These people were often under-controlled as children. They now need rigidity for comfort and security. These children may have felt a sense of endangerment, betrayal or abandonment as children. Children of substance abusers and addictive personalities develop OCD issues, too.
The last kind of control freak is the scariest. The passive-aggressive control freak. These are the ‘sweet’ ‘nice’ ‘helpful’ folks with the soft voice, grim smile and hard, almost demonic eyes. These people will kill you with kindness but they are manipulative, sadistic and ruthless. They will overpower you. Oh yes. It will happen. These folks usually have something more going on emotionally than just control issues: schizophrenia or psycho- sociopath tendencies. They may be childhood victims of brain damage, in utero drug use, sexual abuse and extreme emotional and mental torture.
Raise your hand If you are a control freak. Congratulations. You just took the first step toward healing: recognizing that you have a problem is the most important first step. Get some self-help books and get into Al-Anon. It’s not just for alcohol issues. They’ll help you through the rest of the 12-step program. Is a control freak trying to run your life? You need a 12 step program to help you avoid being sucked into the vortex. And always remember: one day at a time.