It’s a familiar feeling. You’re in a conversation, and suddenly someone’s always trying to shape your decisions. Maybe it’s an acquaintance you’ve never met or perhaps it’s a close friend. How do you deal with people who feel the need to direct your every move?
Recognizing the Signs of Control
The Emotional Grip: From Subtle to Obvious
Control isn’t always about someone overtly demanding. It starts right in the shadows of subtle hints and “advice from anyone” they can get. They might say things like “you don’t know what’s going on,” trying to downplay your feelings or experience. I personally have suffered from this abuse and it is abuse at work when I first started a new job.
It’s horrible, you go on an emotional rollercoaster and this is what they want – they want you to self-doubt, and be depressed. I’m pretty sure the person doing this controlling behavior wanted me to quit the role just because they didn’t like me or felt inferior.
He even tried the “you don’t know” gambit – what didn’t help was I was ill at the time of joining the company and to have this manipulated behavior to deal with on top of all the other stresses was sending me to boiling point. More about what happened further on.
Let’s get back to understanding a few ways they keep telling you what to do and ways to deal with them.
“You Don’t Know”: The Classic Manipulation
It’s the oldest trick in the book. By undermining your beliefs, they make you feel guilty and doubt your sanity. This method, called gaslighting, is often used by those who need to control unconditionally.
The Impact on Your Well-being
The Loss of Self-esteem
Dealing with someone who’s always saying what to do can erode your self-esteem over time. Their negative thoughts become your internal voice, making you question your worth.
Gaslighting: A Sneaky Tool of Control
Gaslighting can be so subtle that it’s easy to miss. The person might make it seem like you’re always the problem. This lack of empathy can leave you feeling completely out of control.
Signs Of Gaslighting
Denying and Brushing Off: Imagine you remember a conversation or event clearly, but your partner is like, “That never happened” or “You’re just being too emotional.” Sound familiar? It’s super disconcerting when someone makes you question your memories or feelings. That’s a big-time red flag right there!
Memory Games: It’s kind of like when someone keeps changing the story. Today they say A, tomorrow they say B, and they swear B was what they said all along. If your partner’s always doing this and making you doubt your own memories, well… that’s not cool, and it’s another sign.
Jokes…or not? Picture this: your partner is always poking fun at you, and not in the cute way. If you say it bothers you, and they keep doing it or tell you you’re overreacting, that’s not just them being cheeky. That’s undermining your confidence.
Seeing isn’t Believing: You saw it. You heard it. But when you talk about it, your partner denies it ever happened. At first, it’s small things, but over time, they start dismissing even big events. That’s them twisting reality and it’s manipulative.
Keep it a Secret: Ever feel like you’re being cut off from friends or family? Or that certain things you experienced together are “our little secret”? That’s a gaslighter trying to control the narrative by isolating you.
Setting the Stage: Think about how actors are directed to move on stage. Gaslighters kind of do that in real life. Based on their reactions, you might find yourself behaving in ways you normally wouldn’t. Like that professor who was “directed” by his students without even realizing it.
Hot and Cold: Gaslighters can be experts at playing the charm card. One day, you’re their superstar, and the next, you can’t do anything right. They’ll shower you with love and then, in the blink of an eye, they’ll use that same affection as a weapon.
My manipulator would alternate between hot and cold towards me for several months. It’s a distressing experience, giving you a momentary sense of relief as if things are improving, only to then make you feel like you’re constantly treading on thin ice. Ultimately, I reached my breaking point and learned how to handle such challenging individuals.
How to Deal With Difficult People
Set Boundaries: The First Step
It’s important to set boundaries with people in your life who make you feel guilty or try to control you. You might feel hesitant, but it’s crucial for your emotional well-being. It’s really simple if you set your own personal boundaries in your head. By doing so, you have a clear line in your mind’s eye of what you will accept and won’t accept.
Once someone has triggered you or crossed your boundaries, it’s time to take action to protect yourself.
Always Remember: It’s Your Life
Your life may have its share of difficult people, but remember, it’s YOUR life. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. This is the most important thing to remember they don’t control or own you or your life. Your thoughts and the way you behave.
Keep this in mind: The people you currently know won’t be present in your life forever they will all be dead in the next 50 or so years. With careful planning, you have the power to address and distance yourself from these people.
Seeking Help and Advice
Recognizing Emotional Abuse
One effective step is reaching out to trustworthy individuals who genuinely support you, preferably someone who can offer an objective perspective being removed from the situation. Their guidance can provide valuable insights and support as you navigate through this difficult experience.
Remember, you deserve respect and a safe environment for your emotional well-being.
Talk to Important People in Your Life
If someone’s always trying to control you, it’s essential to confide in trusted friends or family. They can offer a different perspective and support.
The Hidden Agenda Behind Controlling Behavior
While those who try to control others may cite reasons like “wanting the best” for you, there’s often a deeper agenda.
Those who are controlling often have deep-seated insecurities that drive their need for power and dominance. Understanding their weaknesses can be advantageous, as it allows you to navigate interactions with them more effectively.
However, it is important to exercise caution, as attempting to exploit these weaknesses can potentially result in negative consequences if you find yourself in a vulnerable position. Recognizing this can help you separate their issues from your self-worth.
The Power of Therapy
Seeking professional help through counseling or therapy can be invaluable when dealing with controlling people. Therapists help you identify root causes, set boundaries, and rebuild your self-confidence from the ground up. Therapy provides clarity and helps you take back control.
My Personal Journey of Freedom
After seeking therapy, I discovered my inner voice again. Through counseling, I unearthed my own hopes that had been buried for years under judgment and control. And I realized another truth – the controlling person may never change.
My only choice was to free myself, even if they refused to set me free. I don’t listen to their words or allow them to occupy my mind. If they say something horrible, I distance myself from them. I don’t engage in their behavior or give them any power over me, thus removing their influence as a narcissist.
Standing Up for Yourself
While setting boundaries is crucial, following through is just as vital, even when the controlling person pushes back. Be firm yet kind, don’t get dragged into arguments, and walk away if needed. It’s not easy but reclaiming your freedom requires determination. With time, the control loosens.
The Gift of Wisdom
If you have experienced a controlling person, remember your experience is now a gift. You’ve gained wisdom and resilience. Use it to help others going through similar situations. Share your story to inspire people. Turn painful memories into power.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic where someone tries to make another question their reality or sanity.
How do you deal with people who always try to control you?
Setting clear boundaries, seeking support, and being self-aware are essential steps.
Why do some people feel the need to control others?
Factors like narcissism, insecurity, or past trauma can play a role.
Is seeking help a sign of weakness?
Absolutely not. Seeking help is a sign of strength and self-awareness.
What if the controlling person is a family member?
It’s even more crucial to set boundaries and seek support, either from other family members or professionals.
When faced with a situation where someone persistently offers unsolicited advice, it goes beyond the realm of mere guidance. It becomes a matter of exerting control, manipulating circumstances, and at times, even inflicting emotional abuse. However, it is essential to remember that by establishing clear boundaries, reaching out for support from trusted individuals, and cultivating self-awareness, you possess the power to regain control over your own life and well-being.