How To Stop Being A Controlling Person

Always trying to control everyone and everything in your life? This is for you.

• Health: How-To • Health: Relationships
• Health: Stress Relief • Health: Tips & Tricks

Matt Anderson's Take
Life as a control freak isn't easy. Things around you often don't go your way. The people in your life don't do things the way you know they should. Others in your household don't put things away where you want and don't keep the place clean like you want. It's incredibly frustrating, isn't it?

If it's that frustrating for you, imagine what it's like for those around you and especially those who live with you. It's certainly no picnic for them either. While being able to control some situations is a good ability, it's obvious that being over controlling isn't healthy for yourself or anyone around you. So read on to learn how to change your behavior and stop being such a controlling person.

Don't Be Right, Even If You Are

The biggest reason people control others or a situation is because they're right. Or, at least they think they are. Right or not, if you want to stop your controlling behavior you need to let others be right some of the time too. You have to learn to trust others and their ideas and opinions. This is a tough one to break but simply being quiet is often the easiest option. If you have to throw in an opinion do so, but offer it more as a suggestion and ask what the other party thinks of the idea.

Avoid Perfectionism

Many people who control do so because they're perfectionists and want things done perfectly as they see it. While perfectionism has it's place, in launching rockets and surgery for example, it doesn't belong everywhere. That doesn't mean you have to do or allow sloppy work, but simply to let others get the job done their own way.

Go With The Flow

Learning to go with the flow is an important way to get out of your old, controlling habits. Don't try to micromanage every aspect of your day or life. Keep open time and do what you feel like doing during those open times rather than planning events ahead of time. Take a spontaneous drive, go on a random walk or hike, go out for a meal to a new restaurant, or go throw a ball around with your kids outside. If a friend calls and wants to do something then clear your schedule, let them choose what you do, and go do it .

Stop Fixing

As a controlling person, you love to fix things. Often that means fixing the lives and problems of others, especially those closest to you. You may tend to give advice and suggestions before they're asked, even without realizing you're doing it. You may watch somebody's life and know you can do better for them but that isn't a long term solution for anyone. Instead, stop giving advice out. If somebody asks for your help you can certainly offer it but try doing it as more of a suggestion than a command. Suggest some resources (book, online, etc) to those in need of advice rather than giving your own all the time.

Let Them Be

The best route to happiness for those around you is to let them be who they are. Everyone thinks and goes through life differently and sees the world a different way. Your way may be good. Theirs may be better, or it may not. Either way, everyone has to live their own life the way that makes them happiest. There are certainly times when it's okay to step in and help someone avoid certain disaster. But more often than not, people need to make their own mistakes they can learn from.

Feeling Anxious?

A common theme among those who control is anxiety. Maybe you're always thinking of the worst case scenario or simply fear the unknown. If that sounds at all like you then looking for solutions to your anxiety is key. Medications may be a solution for some, but looking into more natural solutions like meditation, yoga, and cutting back on caffeine (see How Much Caffeine Is In Stuff) can help. While you're working on that, you'll need to really explore the root cause of your anxiety which may be best done with a medical professional, anxiety coach, or therapist.


Practicing acceptance is a big part of being able to let go of your controlling behavior. Simply being quiet rather than forcing your opinions or ways on others is a great start, but finding a way to truly accept the situation is key for long term behavioral changes. In some cases this can be done simply by observing the learning process of others. Watch as your child learns from their mistakes, something they won't get by being told what not to do. Over time, these very small moments of acceptance can lead to an overall peacefulness and possibly even help with those anxiety issues we just discussed.
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