Let’s talk about super control freaks

By Melissa Martin

Mental health professionals proclaim that super control freaks don’t see themselves as controlling—they see themselves as right. And they see others as wrong. It’s her way or the highway. He’s the boss and you’re not.

Controllers may believe they are smarter as well. And while they may have more knowledge on certain topics, they see it as being smarter. During debates and disagreements, you lose and they win—because they are always right. That’s how controllers perceive the world. They would even argue with the God of the universe.

When controllers see you doing something your way, they don’t recognize that it’s your prerogative to make your own decisions (and your own mistakes). They see it as simply being the wrong way because their way is the correct way.

For example, Annette believes there is only one way to load the dishwasher—her way. She becomes irritated when family members differ from her dish rules.

For example, Ben the boss will not entertain ideas and opinions that differ from his. Why? Because he is always right. And employees are always wrong.

Children with a control freak parent may start to believe they cannot do anything right and feel incompetent and develop learned helplessness. Monitoring and managing a child’s activities, friendships, and behaviors constantly can produce anxiety. Children with controlling parents are at a higher risk for certain mental health problems and lack effective coping skills.

While controllers may admit to being controlling—they reject the “freak” part. Controllers believe: There is nothing wrong with me. Others are incompetent so I have to be in charge of everything. They won’t do it the correct way. Things would fall apart without me. The smartest person gets to be in charge and that’s me.

How can you spot a super high-control person? Consider the following signs: correcting people when they’re wrong (spelling, word usage, pronunciation); getting the last word; refusing to admit when they’re wrong; judging or criticizing others; controlling what others can talk about at parties or holiday events; refusing to participate in activities they perceive to be ridiculous; setting and enforcing rules for all; invalidating feelings; being a perfectionist and expecting others to be perfect.

Help! There is a super control freak in my life. Read the article entitled, 6 Tips for Managing Life With a Control Freak, by Robert Taibbi on the Psychology Today website. www.psychologytoday.com/.

Set boundaries. Be confident, clear, and concise with the controller. “People at parties like to play games. I know because they told me. You do not have to participate. Instead you can watch us or watch TV in the other room.”

When the controlling friend or family member realizes she/he is losing control over you, she/he may pout, stop talking to you, or tell others how you are mistreating her/him. Stay calm and discuss your needs and wants in the relationship. Highlight the things you like and admire about the controller before you dive into her/his controlling behaviors. Express gratitude for her/his helpful deeds.

Are you a super control freak? Ouch! Answer the following questions: Do you want others to change and you often remind them? Do you micromanage others to meet your own expectations? Do you believe there is a right way and a wrong way to do chores and projects? Are you afraid of failure? Do you become anxious or angry if things don’t go according to your plans? Do you lack compassion for people who make mistakes? Do you fear losing control?

Help is available for both the controlled and the controller. Try therapy.

Ali Krieger declared, “I can only control myself, my actions, my work ethic, and my attitude.”

Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Scioto County. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com. Contact her at [email protected]


By Melissa Martin