Adrienne Masler

Lessons in Home-Grown Magic

The Biggest Problem With Being A Control Freak

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Hi, I’m Adrienne and I’m a control freak.
Does that surprise you as much as it surprises me? Card-carrying control freaks are probably grabbing pitchforks and torches to come after me right now.
I never meant to become a control freak. I’m certainly not a Type A. I have a vision of myself as relaxed, easy-going, and enthusiastic about all the right things.
In fact, it wouldn’t be fair to call me a control freak across the board. I’m pretty relaxed about what my son does, don’t feel the need to direct every minute of his playtime, and I trust him to know his own limits. I look out for the ways to best support my clients, but they’re all grown-ups and I can leave the responsibility for them doing their own work squarely in their camps. (You’re all awesome, by the way, and I’m honored to be your coach!) I’m certainly not obsessive about the state of my house or the way housework gets done.
But when it comes to other areas of my life, I certainly am a control freak. I have expectations about how my relationships function and if there’s ever a hint that one won’t function exactly that way, I freak out and start trying to fix it to my specifications. I don’t just want to live my life in a state of flow, I want to make the flow happen right now, which of course makes it impossible. I don’t just want to live my calling and make a difference, I want to feel supercharged in every moment. When that inevitably fails, I beat myself up for not being creative enough.
Broken egg with angry face on floor.

Birth of a control freak: You broke me! How dare you! Never. Again.

And that right there is exactly the problem: creativity. The thought behind my being a control freak is, “If I don’t know what is going to happen, the outcome will be bad.” Now, I’ve been surprised by some truly wonderful things in my life, but anytime I’ve been surprised by something bad, I’ve turned into a control freak. A relationship I thought would last forever goes south? I start trying to control my relationships. I’m not sure what I want to do and spend years in trial and error mode, most of it miserable? I start trying to control my calling and contributions.
What happened here? I’ve lost the sense of good possibility. The Universe failed me once, so I’m going to take the reins and make sure that never happens again. Can anyone say “trust issues”?
But…
As I keep saying, we each get what we ask for with our whole hearts. My being a control freak is a way of saying, “Don’t let anything bad happen to me again.” My imagination is focused on avoiding anything I’ve determined in advance will be bad. I’m so busy being fearful that I’ll lose what I have that it’s hard to even think about having more. I’ve effectively shut out any good surprises, because all surprises (good and bad) come in through the same door.
Which makes me think about Pandora’s box. Hope was in the box too. Where’s my hope? I’ve been, to use an old phrase, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Instead of asking what my lesson was from those “bad” things that happened to me, I allowed my fear and pain to turn me into a grasping, uptight control freak. Interesting to note that when anything “bad” immediately and obviously turned into something “good”, I haven’t become a control freak.

Diagnosis: Clinging to fear, unsupported faith in my own ability to control my life in every way, and lack of imagination.

Prescription: Revive imagination in my life, especially where I’m being a control freak.
How? Stay tuned…
Is there some part of your life where you’re being a control freak? What’s underneath that?

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