Are you controlling? You would probably answer an emphatic “No!” Just like I did.
I don’t know about you, but I believe in signs. So when this topic came up in my readings more than once over the last few days I knew it was something I needed to blog about.
Unhealthy relationships whether they are familial or romantic are marked it seems by someone who is controlling and someone who is feeling controlled. Would I consider myself a controlling person? Absolutely not! No way! Never… not me. Ha.
In fact, before I got into recovery I would have told you I was the least controlling and most giving, loving, self-sacrificing person in my world. But, all that giving often left me feeling drained, resentful, and unloved in return. I soon learned in my codependent recovery that I actually was a controlling person but my control was more like a covert operation.
Let me explain: if you do giving, loving, or self-sacrificing things in order to win someone’s approval or to manage their feelings, THAT is a form of MANIPULATION or CONTROL. If giving becomes a sort of barter to belong, or a bid for love, rather than an expression of love, you are practicing selfishness. I was practicing selfishness.
Don’t kill the messenger. I'm just here to pass on the nuggets.
My personal struggle with all this was my relationship to religion and the fact the Bible clearly states we are to die to ourselves daily. Here's the problem with that, I never learned a fundamental sense of self that makes that sort of surrendering appropriate. The Bible also says, "Love your neighbor, as yourself." I never sat through a Sunday School class on the "as yourself" part, did you?
So when one does not have a healthy sense of themselves, they cannot love in a healthy way.
What is the antidote to this covert manipulating/controlling behavior?
Healthy selfishness.... I know, I know, it's sounds like an oxymoron. Healthy selfishness consists of knowing your limits and setting them. It means you prioritize self-care over caring for others, because who can pour from an empty vessel? This healthiness means you communicate your feelings, even when it seems inconvenient to those around you. You know how to rest when you're tired. You are in touch with your wants and needs and can speak up to get them met.
Why is "over-giving" a problem, you may be asking. Especially if the over-giver claims to enjoy it? Here's why, when you typically "lose yourself" in a relationship, you are dishonoring yourself. When you don't honor yourself, you attract people who don't honor you either.
In order to engage in healthy, loving relationship dynamics you have to be "all-in". That means you must be willing to explore AND admit your feelings, thoughts and behaviors even when they are uncomfortable. This is only possible when you get really, really honest with yourself first. Then you can share with another person. The growth and connection is a result of healthy responsibility.
Once you can take responsibility for what you want, what you need and what you will/will not tolerate, healthy boundaries and relationships can be established. It's ok to say no. Saying no, creates a healthy container for love.
If you would like to work with a guide in helping you end your controlling behaviors and establish new healthy relationships I would love to walk with you. Email, message, DM me for coaching inquiries.
And as always, share your 💭 and 💡 moments below.