Finding God's Winning Spirit

"Control Freaks" (Part One)

December 12, 2014 | Greg Smith | Focus


If you're ever in the mood to do some personal reflection I would encourage you to ask yourself where you stand on the issue of control. No matter who you are or where you are in your life, trust me when I say, control is nearby. Some individuals are obsessed with it while others only have to negotiate it, but either way, control plays a part in all of our lives.  You can tell a lot about a person simply by understanding their relationship with control.

If upon reflection you feel like you have no issue with control then you can stop reading this blog and move on with your day. For those of you that have a sneaking suspicion that control is, our at times might be, an issue, then stay with me.

Control is one of those things that appears to be benign, yet can be devastating. The issues that crop up around control tend to negatively affect not only individual emotional wellness but relationships in general. The tentacles of control can be pervasive, some subtle, some not so subtle. Here are a few major problems for the “control freak”.

The need for control is fear-based, which is to say, it is a defense mechanism against fear.  Control most often is a response to the fear of the unknown. Those individuals that struggle with control tell themselves that if they can somehow manipulate their surroundings that this will take the uncertainty out of the future. Once this assumption is made control becomes paramount and a survival technique – control is no longer a luxury it is a necessity.

This of course is a false assumption as total control is unobtainable. For example, they may be able to control their own car but they cannot control where the car of the drunk driver goes. This inability to control others leaves a gap in their safety plan. They must now take on the control of those around them (Webster’s primary definition of control is: to direct the behavior of (a person or animal) : to cause another to do what you want, or controllinghaving a need to control other people's behavior). This need for total control takes up an exorbitant amount of time, is futile, emotionally draining and tends to devastate relationships.

Once a person drinks the "control Kool-Aid" which says, “control equals safety”, life gets serious, difficult and at times lonely. Life gets serious because they must now pay close attention to everything that involves them and the ones they love. Life gets difficult because they do not have the time, energy or ability to impact everything that needs controlled. Life can become lonely due to the lack of time they have for themselves and healthy individuals will not respond well to being controlled and eventually will move away from such people.

The normal person understands that no amount of control can prevent the trials and tribulation of life. Unfortunately the control freak does not see it this way; their view is that they are just “more responsible” than most. For them this is not a problem or weakness it is a calling. To be a “control freak” for them is a badge of honor – for the rest of us it looks like a treadmill.

Having control issues in life is rough enough, and as I have mentioned, takes a lot of energy with questionable results. My real desire to help folks with issues of control is not so much about their emotional of psychological lives but rather about the negative effect control, and the need for it, has on their Christian walk. As a matter of fact I believe that the need for control is one of the original sins. I will make my case next week in Part Two: Adam the First “Control Freak”.   

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