Controlling People

September 13, 2010 by
Filed under: Play by Play 

In my last post I talked about how to deal with people that always have to be right. During my work on this I ran into mention of a book called Controlling People by Patricia Evans.

This book greatly added to my work around this issue.  The first that that she did was describe the relationships.  She described the controller and the witness.

A controller is a person who, as a child, they were created from the outside in.  Menaning that this child was not allowed to get in touch with their inner intuitive feelings and inner self.  They were constantly told how they felt; what they wanted and if they tried to exert themselves they were put down.  She used an example of a mother taking her daughter for ice cream.  She asked her daughter “What kind of ice cream do you want”;

Her daughter replied “Vanilla”

“Oh, you don’t want vanilla, look at all these flavors”

“Vanilla is fine”; repeated the daughter

“How about cotton candy?”

“No, vanilla”

“Just Vanilla? You are a strange one”

This little girl stood her ground.  How often do kids do this?  This little girl was told that she was strange because she doesn’t like vanilla.  So, if the child does not go ahead and choose another kind, they then take on this complex that they are strange, or some other “name” that the parent chooses.  This ultimately builds the child from the outside in.

So controllers are built from the outside in; they are disconnected from their intuitive self; thus they need desperately to be connected to something thus the control aspect kicks in.  Someone that isn’t connected to themselves – they work to connect to others from the outside in and they connect to what Patricia Evans referred to as a witness.  They are a witness because they often experience the controller doing or saying things that are irrational.

The connection a controller has with another becomes their safety zone.

For someone that is built from the outside in also builds others from the outside in.  They have a picture of the “perfect” spouse, or the “perfect” child, or the “perfect” employee or the “perfect” friend.  When this person doesn’t act perfect the controller acts irrational.  This behavior happens basically because the controller becomes afraid of disconnection, they see that the person before them and the person in their mind is not the same therefore they feel loss.  Controllers will see things that don’t exist, they have conversations that never happen, they fight desperately to prove that they are right.

I saw myself in both roles, both a witness (thus my current work) but also in the controller role.  As I have done work on growing and becoming a better person, I believe that the controller in me is easing up; however – I often look at myself and others from the outside in.

Working with this information about controllers and my previous work on dealing with others that always have to be right I am not focusing in on ensuring I continue to do my personal growth and personal development work.  It becomes even more important that I know who I am, what I want and what I stand for.  I need to live my life from my truth thus being able to be the spell-breaker that Patricia Evans also describes in her book and ensure that I am letting others do the same. 

The ideas that Patricia gave on how to break the spell is to

  • live from ones own inner truth
  • respect boundaries
  • do not react to the irrational actions as if they were valid
  • build your life on truth
  • protect your children
  • speak up
    • ask questions of the controller when they say something irrational
      • What?
      • What did you say?
      • Nonsense.
      • I heard that
      • What are you doing?

Would love to hear your thoughts about this post; other recommendations? Comments?  Additional Information?

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4 Comments on Controlling People

  1. Pamela Picard on Sat, 18th Sep 2010 2:38 pm
  2. I so relate to the struggle you are describing. And I applaud your honesty. I am a controlling personality and I get how destructive this can be on the people around me as well as myself. At the same time, I also get how feeling “out of control” drives irrationality.

    When everything has to be “just so” in appearances, and someone else waltzes in with other ideas, the resulting disconnect, confusion and fear can be so intense that acting out can be the only relief. Pitching a fit might put it mildly.

    I’ve sort of corralled this aspect in my living space; I hate clutter. And I’m a lot more relaxed about clutter than I once was. But I was living with a clutter-bug for 11 years. A controller out of control is not a pretty sight. I finally had to move out.

    As within, so without.

    The compulsion to keep everything (and everyone) in its place is the sign of a mind terrified of its own disorganized impulses. This is a very difficult and deep-seated neurosis. We need to be very gentle in our reform and very forgiving of ourselves and others.

    Rome is not rebuilt in a day.

  3. Pamela Picard on Mon, 20th Sep 2010 7:19 pm
  4. I have to tell you, reading the statement that controllers are “built from the outside in” was quite painful. One of those mixed blessing moments. Now you know. So now you know. I’ll be working from there for a while. xo Pam

  5. شيخ الروحاني لجلب الحبيب on Wed, 7th Aug 2013 8:09 am
  6. You can definitely see your skills in the work you write.
    The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to mention how they believe.
    At all times follow your heart.

  7. Andrea Pettit on Sun, 8th Sep 2013 6:01 pm
  8. THANK YOU!!!!!