From Stoic to Emo – How a Control Freak Relaxed Her Grip and Became Peaceful

happiness stress Feb 14, 2023

You have to pick your battles.

I heard that expression many times after becoming a mom. And I'd always nod my head in agreement.

On the surface, I understood that sentiment. But in the depths of my subconscious, I picked ALL of my battles. I didn't let any go. I had to win every argument. Always be right.

My intense grip on life wasn't a problem until my child brought it to light. In her 4yr old way, she taught me that I was a control freak. I could deny it no longer. I had to face my demons and change for my family's sake.

It's crazy because control is a basic human need, but too much control becomes problematic. Control freaks have a hard time defining the parameters. You need control in the sense of having agency, yet also need to surrender to the things that are outside of your control.

Being a control freak looks like being fiercely independent; having trust issues; not asking for help; the need to always be right; placing productivity above everything else; avoiding emotions in favor of the silent treatment; inability to be vulnerable; perfectionism; and constantly punishing your kids. At least, those were my symptoms.

As a recovering control freak, I fought surrender for years. So I know how hard trusting that everything will be okay can be. I also understand why we often turn towards controlling behavior.

Types of Control Freaks

Do you resemble one of these control freak variations?

The first is the person who is controlling from a place of fear and anxiety. This person isn't sure how things will turn out, feels anxious about the unknown, and tries to control every potential scenario.

The second type of control freak is the person who controls from a lack of vulnerability. This person is shut down emotionally and isn't sure what to do when others show big emotions. So they try to control the person causing the discomfort.

You control as a way to protect yourself. You control because you don't trust yourself.

You control because you don't know what to do with the emotions you're experiencing.

So how do you release the constant tension and expectations that rule your days?

Becoming Peaceful

The journey to peace is different for everyone. Yours may mirror mine or may include more, but here are the steps that helped me become more peaceful.

For the past 5 years, I've invested in a life coach and dozens of self-help books. Consistent mindset work and educating myself on psychology has been transformative. Although I've never been to therapy, I imagine my results are the same. Unlearn the past, focus on the present, create your future.

I practice gratitude several times a week. Whenever I see an angel number - that's a repeating number like 11:11 on the clock or 222 miles remaining til I need a gas fill up - I pause and think about a few things I'm grateful for. Often I state that I'm grateful for the people in my life, for the universe sending me signs, and that I'm healthy.

Gratitude is very powerful for recognizing the good that's right in front of you. And when you practice this regularly, you wire your brain to see the positives which brings peace.

Healing Shame
We all have things we're ashamed about and we spend a great deal of energy hiding them. Talking about your shame makes you vulnerable because you want to be accepted. And if you tell someone your secret and they shut you down, the embarrassment makes you shrink. So sharing with the right person is important!

When I told my friend about my shame: that my husband was abusing alcohol, we were in a coffee shop. I public. I felt massively vulnerable. And while the thought Is everyone in here noticing me crying? did cross my mind, I had to let the tears flow. They had been bottled up for years and the dam broke.

My friend listened, provided empathy, and told me I was a beautiful crier. She was the right friend to open up to. And as soon as I had spoken my shame out loud, I began the process of reclaiming my peace. It took many more conversations with more people to fully heal, but just getting that first release empowered me to heal. On the other side of shame is peace.

Surrender Reminders
You know the adage you are most like the 5 people that you closely surround yourself with? Well, I had a coach who constantly talked about surrendering the outcome. Several times a month for a year I was reminded to surrender the outcome. When you hear something all the time, you internalize it. It becomes part of your psyche.

If you identify as a control freak and recognize that you'd like to shed this part of your identity, the Becoming More Club is for you.

The Becoming More Club is about...
releasing ineffective coping strategies,
prioritizing your growth,
tapping into your potential even though you're unsure what the future holds,
and bridging the gap between who you are and who you wish to become.

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