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How to Deal with the Control Freak Before They Ruin You

How to Deal with the Control Freak Before They Ruin You

Whether in a relationship or workplace, a control freak can make your life unbearable. They are generally toxic people. A control freak tries to control all aspects of your life and in many cases, they try to do it in a negative way that makes your life reasonable. One thing to keep in mind that someone who is a control freak is very hard to change, so you may have to develop coping mechanisms that will help you minimize their control over your life.

While you could always walk away from a toxic relationship, there are cases where you may need to stand your ground. Perhaps you have a well paying job or there are kids at stake in the relationship. In this case, you will have to manage the problem decisively and effectively in managing the person’s controlling behaviour. A control freak’s actions should never be a daily feature of your life and there are ways to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Identifying a Control Freak

It can actually be difficult sometimes to identify a control freak – anyone can be one and they look just like you or I. They can be a family member, a spouse or child, a boss or work colleague or even just someone that you associate with casually. Sometimes they are obvious, like an overbearing boss or a new friend who has a million opinions about the smallest things. Sometimes it may be more subtle, especially if they have been in your life for a long time – like a spouse, and have slowly developed into being a control freak. No matter who it is, they are a bit like leeches – they may seem harmless but once they latch on they will not stop until they have you at their beck and call.

Controlling the Control Freak

The fact is, people find it difficult to be around control freaks – they are beyond annoying, and if you have ever tried to get something done around them then you will know how frustrating it can be. A seemingly simple task suddenly escalates into something huge and burdensome, and something that you may have previously enjoyed becomes unnecessarily stressful. You could simply disassociate completely with the control freak in question, but sometimes that is just not an option, especially if it is a family member or someone close to you. And if moving countries or changing careers is not an option, then you are going to have to control the control freak yourself. Your livelihood and happiness depends on it! Of course by controlling the control freak, we do not mean become as bad as they are, but rather control the situation so it does not affect you, or even worse … ruin you.

Steps to deal with a control freak

So you have identified who the control freak in your life is, and you have decided that it is time to put a stop to it before it affects your life. What exactly are the best ways of approaching them? You have probably told them to their faces that they are a control freak (or perhaps not if you are truly terrified of them), but unfortunately this rarely, if ever, works as a solution. Here are some tips on dealing with a control freak:-

Be Assertive Without Arguing

Just like bullies, control freaks feed on your shyness and lack of confidence. They love nothing more than for you to silently do what they say and to more or less submit to them. On the same note, be assertive without arguing. Arguing is pointless to a control freak – even if you are right and have a completely valid point, a control freak will not be willing to listen to reason. As far as they are concerned, their way is the only way so all arguing is going to do is … well start an argument. And it is unlikely you will win. Stand up for yourself and make it clear that you will not be walked over – if you do this enough, chances are it will become less fun for them to try to control you.

Don’t Take it Personally

Quite possibly, the control freak is that way because of who they are, rather than because of who you are. Usually, people don’t becomes control freaks because they dislike someone else or because of something that someone else has done to them – rather due to their own insecurities or perceived lack of self control. So do not take it personally and see it as an attack on yourself – chances are if they are a control freak towards you, then they are exactly the same to others. They are simply flawed human beings. Not taking it personally may not stop them being so controlling, but it can certainly stop it from affecting you as much.   

Do not try to change them – adapt

This piece of advice could be the hardest to adopt, yet it most likely going to bring about the greatest level of satisfaction for yourself. You need to understand that you cannot change them. It is part of who they are – chances are they themselves know they are control freaks and would love to be more relaxed, but chances are you are not going to be the one to change them and trying to will only end in heartache and frustration and will end up helping nobody. Rather, adapt to the situation. Sometimes the best way to deal with a control freak, is to not deal with them. If it is a boss or colleague, no matter how much you love your job, unless you change something, then you will never be happy. If you can’t stand to leave your job, see if you can be moved internally. If the control freak is a relative or friend, then distancing yourself from some things can make a world of difference. If your sister is overbearing to shop with, then spend less time shopping and more time doing something else.

Find the positives

Finally, if you can, find a positive aspect about the control freak in question. They’re not evil or bad people, and by focusing on the good, perhaps the controlling side will make them easier to tolerate especially if they are people you love. Get them away from situations which tempt them to be controlling and have fun with them, or have a quality conversation which is two sided – it will be just as beneficial for them as it will be for you. If they are people you care people, harnessing positivity can help alleviate the worst aspects of their controlling behaviour.

The key to managing a control freak is holding your ground and being very firm otherwise they will run roughshod over you. Control freaks often express their control over you by belittling or condescending you so standing your ground very firmly and decisively will inflict a psychological damage on their controlling tendencies.

Be very firm and direct. If you are not a person who is always this way, learn and adopt this approach specifically for the control freak. Whenever their controlling tendencies get outrageous, push back just as strongly and firmly. With time, they will begin to beat back a retreat. They might adopt a passive-aggressive posture rather than steamrolling over you which can be more bearable if you have been a victim of their outrage.

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.