I’m Catherine Cleveland, YOUR mental health counselor!
Today’s topic is about your control issues related to other people.
Do you spend a lot of time and energy trying to change someone you are in a relationship with? Maybe your significant other or even your child?
Here’s where the problem is:
We may be able to influence other people but trying to change them is usually not effective.
Ask yourself this:
How much time do I spend wishing and hoping someone I care about will change?
If you find that you are doing this often, you are living in that world of hope, rather than reality. The reality is that you cannot change other people if they don’t want to change!
When you spend time believing that someone is going to change, and they don’t want to, you are living in a fantasy, and not a good one.
What is wrong with this?
Living in a fantasy of hope prevents you from paying attention to your own psychological needs and issues.
These issues are usually the things that you don’t like about yourself. So instead, you avoid them by focusing on other people’s “flaws”
What can you do?
First, start by accepting your loved one for who they are. Next, focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.
If you cannot accept your loved ones for who they are, then you need to either
- leave the relationship (last resort)
- pay attention to how your behaviors and judgments are impacting the relationship
- create boundaries for the relationship.
(Guidance through mental health counseling is very important to help with the emotions and distress you will experience from any of the above three steps.)
Boundaries are limitations of what you will tolerate in the relationship. For example, I once set a boundary with a close friend. I didn’t like the way her boyfriend treated her, and she was not breaking up with him anytime soon. I was compassionate to her letting her know that I would not spend time with her when he was around. I did this because I wanted to accept her for who she is, not judge her for her choice in men.
However, if you set specific boundaries or rules for the relationship, pay attention to whether YOU are crossing them. If you are the one crossing the boundaries, you may be trying to seek control of others rather than within yourself. This is especially true when the control issues are with your significant other! For instance, if you continually threaten to leave her if she doesn’t stop drinking, but you never do.
Remember, when you try to control others, it is usually a reflection of how you feel about yourself.