What You’ll Learn Today:

  • The 4 main reasons why you might be controlling
  • Two new ways to look at control
  • How to identify your triggers
  • My top 5 tools to move you from controlling and crazy to calm and chill

Top Take-A-Ways:

Being controlling is a group of behaviors and thoughts based on fear. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: You can’t have a love relationship based on fear. 

The Four Main Reasons Why You Might Be Controlling:

Reason 1: Some of you have had some trauma in your childhood (often something you haven’t identified as a trauma) that’s created this response. You don’t want to be at the mercy of others. Maybe you had a parent who was so controlling that you’re craving control in your current life. Maybe you were the victim of sexual, physical or emotional abuse and you don’t want to let anyone see cracks in your current armor for fear that they’ll take advantage. 

Reason 2: Maybe you felt neglected in some way by one or both of your parents or guardians. In this case, you’ve had to control your environment from an early age just to survive and get by and you learned to only rely on yourself. 

Reason 3: You’re currently being controlled by someone else, so feel the need to exert control wherever you can when you’re out of that person’s sphere. Maybe this is a controlling boss or maybe your spouse or partner is domineering or jealous. 

Reason 4: I’ve worked with a lot of women who were professionals before having kids. Then they made the decision (sometimes passively) to stay home with their kids and not go back to work. I think MANY of these women have control issues because they’re frustrated. Working out soccer schedules, foods for Jane’s gluten allergy, juggling gymnastics, trombone lessons and tutoring keep them super busy, but their brains are NOT stimulated. They’re actually bored and frustrated.

Two New Ways to Look at Control:

The first new way of looking at your control issues is to realize that it’s a defense mechanism NOT a personality trait! You can absolutely change this state of being!

The second new way of looking at your control issues is to see control like a drug. This craving to micromanage, control the actions or behaviors of your partner or kids, or keeping any kind of rigid rules or routines is all something to look at. Just like it’s a problem if you’re craving drugs, it’s a problem if you’re craving control.

Just like with drugs, there are often triggers for controlling behavior:

  1. Stress 
  2. Perfectionism
  3. Being Unsure
  4. Overscheduling
  5. Impatience
  6. Anxiety: All of these triggers are really about anxiety. 


Here are my top 5 tools to move you from control to being a calm and patient ninja. 

1) Learn to Relax with Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). PMR is basically a deep relaxation technique which uses a simple system of tensing, or tightening, one muscle group at a time, as you progress from your head to your feet. When you’re in a controlling state, you’re anxious and this shows up with physical stiffness in your body so learning PMR will relax your body and your brain. When you’re relaxed, you’re less controlling. 

I want to give you a challenge. I want you to download a recording I made to progressively relax your body (this is also called a Body Scan and you’ll find the link at the bottom of the page). Create a 20-minute time slot for 7 consecutive days where you can lie down and listen to the recording. You will absolutely see changes in just that short amount of time. 

2) Learn to delegate or cut out. If it won’t matter in five years, it doesn’t matter now. The really important thing with delegation is you can’t be attached to outcomes. No one else is going to do it just like you and that’s OK!! 

3) Boundaries please. It’s OK to say “no” even if it’s something you’ve always done so people expect it from you. Keep your boundaries and say “no” more often.

4) Let go of “right.” There actually is NOT a right way to clean the kitchen counter! What the hell Abby, yes there is! NO There’s not!! Let go of right – if someone is willing to do anything, then let that be enough. 

5) Dispute negative thinking with realistic self-talk. Thinking things like: “I’ll never love again if we break up.” “I’ll never get over it if he ignores me again.” “We never make any changes that stick!” “We’ve been this way too long, this is just how it’s always going to be. 

This type of catastrophizing or generalizing (If it doesn’t work out with this guy, it’ll never work with anyone) is fear-based and NOT REAL!! Ask yourself: What else could be true? If I was a calm together person, what would my reaction be?

Resources and Links:

Body Scan Mp3

Studies on the Effectiveness of Progressive Relaxation on anxiety, stress, depression levels:
Effectiveness of progressive muscle relaxation therapy as a worksite health promotion program in the automobile assembly line
An evaluation of progressive muscle relaxation on stress related symptoms in a geriatric population.
Effectiveness of Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Biofeedback Relaxation in Lowering Physiological Arousal among Students with Regard to Personality Features


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