Trying to control almost always ends up with a boomerang effect. The person controlling ends up being controlled. Is that what is happening with you? If you want to know if you are trying to control, the boomerang effect is a good sign that you are.
Most of us who are control freaks, find it difficult to label control as something bad. How could trying to keep people away from danger be bad? What don't others see that I am helping them?
Control people are most often "good people up to no good" as Robert Fritz says. That is the topic of other blogs, but for now let's just learn how to be aware of your controlling behavior.
Here are three questions that help you determine if you are trying to control someone.
Are your emotions taking over?
You see someone not doing what they need to do, so you push the control lever forward in your mind. Even if you don't say it to them, you think some form of "should, ought, or must." You may want them to change so that they don't make the mistakes you made. Or, just don't want them to make a choice that you don't agree with or don't like.
Now, you feel your emotions engaging and you really don't want them to do it. In fact, if they continue, you believe there is real danger that they don't see. Worse yet, you feel it is your responsibility to stop them from doing it.
But, they won't listen, so you become angry, resentful, or just disappointed because, "They just don't get it!"
That is a sign that you are in control mode. The boomerang effect is at work! The other person is in control of you! You try to control them, but they now control of you!
Are you only seeing what is bad?
Not only do they not get it, they really don't see how much it will hurt them and others. You see them as incapable of noticing the harm that will occur. And, if they don't get it corrected, something bad will happen to them and others.
Of course, if you are just concerned, that isn't an indication of trying to control. But, if you have elevated negative emotions creating worry, irritability, and anxiety, you are trying to control.
Is that always bad? No, but too often you try to control something that you can't. And, you aren't willing to encourage different behavior rather than force or manipulate to get them to change.
Worse yet, it may not turn out bad! Again, the boomerang effect is at work! You are being controlled!
Are you being controlled by their behavior?
This question is best of all questions for me. It accepts the premise that the boomerang effect is real. If I can see how they actually control me, it is proof that I am most likely controlling.
It works this way. You want someone to stop doing something that hurts them. You tell them how bad it is, but they don't see the danger like you do, so they keep doing it.
Now you amp up your effort to get them to change, but that doesn't stop their bad behavior. You experience those elevated negative emotions, because what they are doing is so bad! You become irritable, anxious, agitated, angry, discouraged, depressed, and more, because they aren't doing what you want!
The more you try to get them to change, the more they control you - the boomerang effect is real. And, if they change, you are relieved. But, if they don't, you are angry, depressed, etc. Either way, you are now a slave to what they do and what happens to them.
It doesn't need to be that way, because you can hope, pray, and encourage them to change. You can even exhort and rebuke them, but ultimately, it is their choice to experience the consequences of their behavior. And, believe it or not, many times it works out for good, in spite of your fears!
WARNING - It is dangerous to hand the keys to your emotions over to other people. That is what trying to control someone does.
You want freedom from worry, so you control to change their behavior. But, the boomerang effect happens and you are now being controlled.