One of the traits of adult children of substance users and alcoholics is the need to control. Control is necessary in lots of places, like airport control towers. Healthy relationships require give and take, however. Being controlled by someone else doesn’t feel like order, it feels like bullying. For children growing up in homes where anger rules one day, and sunshine rules the next day, wanting to be in control is a coping tool that can serve well. But it is a behavior that gets in the way of healthy relationships later in life.
Are You Too Controlling
Do you, or others in your life, make everything a war of wills. Who gets to choose the restaurant if you’re going out, what you eat, where you go, what you believe in from moment to moment. If you or the other person can’t give way for someone else’s comfort, then there someone is always secretly suffering or angry.
Usually the desire to control is based on fear. However, if you can imagine living in a relatively peaceful home where there is a minimum of drama, then there would be no one to control but yourself. Think back to how many times in your life you bargained, manipulated, begged, pleaded, made yourself a victim, felt powerless, and what was the result? More of the same.
Let Go Of The Rope
There is an old theory which is really simple. It is based on the game “tug of war” where two teams hold a rope and try to prevent the other team from pulling them over to their side for then they lose. Imagine if you told the other team you didn’t want to play the game and you dropped the rope. What would happen? They would have to find another team to play with. It works the same way in family dynamics. Those who are controlling will keep the merry go round going around until someone gets off and gently says, “I cannot do this anymore. It is bad for my physical, mental and spiritual well-being.” So, back to the issue of control. If you take out the problem of addiction in the equation, you still encounter people in your life who either seek to control or be controlled.
I believe one of the things we realize as we get well is no one is in control of anything except the way they think. We cannot control the weather, the earth’s natural disasters, accidents, or anything else.
Practicing Self Control
What we can practice is self-control and creating safe boundaries for ourselves. We let others know about if they cross those boundaries and make us feel bullied, or we’re bullying others. If control is one of your issues, observe yourself one day at a time for a week. Write down when you think you are trying to control a situation. Ask yourself if you are trying to control the outcome of the situation or setting safe boundaries for yourself. In 12-step meetings and programs, people have to learn what’s right for them, or not right for them. No one tells anyone what to do. Those decisions must come from within, and those decisions will eventually lead to more peace of mind and a lot less drama.
One Day At A Time
All we really have is one day at a time, and one moment at a time, for nothing is promised. Therefore, while you may not take anything for granted, remember not to assume that you can change anyone but yourself. Most fears are born out of the holes in ourselves, and you will find, time after time, that no one else can really fill up within you what is for you to do. That is too great a responsibility to place on another person. I look forward to hearing from you with comments or questions.
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive by Deri Ronis