There are many of us who, for whatever reason, find ourselves obliged to interact and deal with people around whom we don’t feel free and can’t be ourselves. They might be verbally and/or physically abusive partners, exes who are the mothers or fathers of our children, or supervisors or co-workers at work. They expend a lot of energy to insure that we toe the line and behave in certain ways. They’re only comfortable when they feel that they have control of any given situation.
Not every control freak is physically intimidating. Some of them have more subtle ways of keeping us in line. They may have leverage, like legal custody of the kids or a position of authority in the workplace. It can be really hard to fathom what kind of satisfaction they could derive from manipulating other people. They don’t seem to really enjoy it; but somehow or another they’re convinced that they need to behave this way in order to feel safe.
The irony is that controlling and manipulative people seek to dominate others because they believe that they are, themselves, powerless. Men and women who feel self-assured and comfortable with themselves are not threatened by other people’s self-expression; nor do they constantly find myriad reasons to be offended or angered. Anger is, in fact, a clear window into the mentality of the controlling personality, because beneath this emotion there is always fear. It just doesn’t look that way when anger makes such a bombastic display.
For this reason, it’s pointless for us to get angry at a control freak. This kind of reaction simply draws us into their same mental and energetic field; no matter how justified we may feel. Not only that, but it can cause us to start resembling that which we are so opposed to.
It can be helpful if we remind ourselves that fear is what motivates certain people to try and control others. It doesn’t solve the problem when they’re an inescapable presence in our lives. It does allow us to feel a little compassion for them, though, and this in itself can alleviate some of our intimidation. Spiritual teachers talk about how we are bound to the objects of our strongest emotions. If we hate control freaks, we attract them into our lives. This can actually provide us with an opportunity for self-examination. What does such a person have to teach us? Are we afraid to express our real feelings in our daily lives, and so we find ourselves surrounded with people who mirror this fear back at us? Do we have the martyr’s tendency to want to try and “save” everyone, which leads us to one interaction after another with people who are long on problems and short on solutions?
Inevitably, to get out of these kinds of situation we have to discover our own inner reasons for being involved in the first place. Oftentimes this can be done on our own initiative; in cases of severe abuse, however, we may need to reach out and seek help from third parties. There are also some good support groups out there for people who’ve had troubling involvements with controlling people.