Recognize Forms of Control

Control is the abuse of power, the process of taking away your right to choose your actions, words or your attitude about yourself.  This may be through intimidation, passive aggression, or anger.

WHO CONTROLS YOU? When you give a person power or authority over you, that person can use that power for you or against you.  Consider why you have given someone power over you.  You may believe that the person can teach you something or make better decisions than you. You give that person permission to make decisions that affect you.  As long as that person does not abuse the power, you have a healthy relationship.

Giving someone power over you is not the same as giving control over you.  Control is the abuse of power and is not acceptable.

You may look to a teacher or parent or a spouse to confirm or deny that you have value.  Or you believe that you do not measure up in some way.  Maybe you never had personal power and don’t realize that you have the right to make your own decisions, to be in charge of your life. Your reasons for submitting to another person vary.  You may submit to another because you believe that person can help you, or lead you, or prove an asset to you in another way.  This is a positive submission.

When you look to others for confirmation of your value, you set yourself up for potential abuse.  That confirmation has to come from you. If the other person withholds confirmation, you are placing your value in another’s hands.  It becomes abusive when you are required to submit, when you have not chosen submission of your own free will, when you feel diminished in any way.  Often, the person doesn’t take responsibility for the abuse. Sometimes, a person doesn’t realize that he is abusive.

“Entangled by the bonds of hate, he who seeks his own happiness by inflicting pain on others, is never delivered from hatred.” ― Buddha (c. 566-480 B.C.)


Directly, out of fear.

  • Fear of physical, verbal or emotional harm by threatening or actually harming you.
  • Intimidation

Example: “Do it or else.” Or, “You’ll never see me again.”

  • Expressed anger.

Example: Throwing things.

  • Demanding

Example: “I don’t want to talk about it. Don’t bring it up again.”

  • Physical aggression – bullying: physically attacking you or harming you or someone or something you love, in any way.
  • Deprivation – denying you something such as money, transportation or self-respect.
  • Fear of rejection or embarrassment: Ridicule and Sarcasm
  • Making you look foolish, small, inadequate or insignificant in your own eyes and in the eyes of others without being held responsible.  This makes you become smaller than you were, thus you are more manageable and controllable.
  • Ridicule is an exaggeration of your action.  It is intended to cause humiliation by making fun of a person or thing. It is meant to taunt you.

Example: “You’re doing WHAT?”

  • Sarcasm is saying something that cannot be used against the speaker.  It is a sharp or cutting remark intended to hurt or wound a person.

Example: “You wouldn’t recognize a good idea if it bit you on the nose.”

See The Characteristics of an Abusive Personality, Appendix A, page 133 and Understand Your Human Rights, page 35.

Indirectly by:

  • Manipulation:  You are being manipulated when someone reduces your ability to be your own judge in what you do. It is a subtle form of control. 

Example: “If you call and complain about this bill, I’ll let you keep that new outfit.”

  • Guilt

Example: “Think about others” or “We’re depending on you.”

  • Shoulds: Suggesting bad results of not taking this person’s advice

Example: “You should do … or else…”

  • Rejection: This is usually unspoken, but you get the message. Often it is the silent treatment.

Example: The message is, “I won’t like you if you don’t agree with me or do what I say.”

  • Isolation: Make you feel that you will be abandoned with no help or friend who cares about you.

Example: “She’s not really your friend.  She doesn’t care about you.  She always expects you to drive.  You don’t need a friend like that.”

  • Passive aggression:  This person sabotages you and makes you pay for resisting control, but does it in such a way that you are not sure if you are being punished, and if you are, you do not know why.

Examples: disrupting, interrupting, forgetting, implying, but not clearly stating something, denying what you know to be true, undermining your sanity, such as: “I never said that.” Or, “You told me …” or refusing to enter into a two-way conversation and a mutually agreed upon resolution.

WHY THEY CONTROL YOU. Controllers believe that they are very nice people, but they are small people, insecure and afraid.  They may be stressed to the point of breaking and this is their way of trying to control the situation.  They are in an, “I’ll protect me at any cost” attitude.  They do not believe that they have personal power or security within themselves. Their anxiety makes them think that they must take power from you to survive.

Controllers live in a win/lose reality.  They win at all costs, even at your expense.  They believe that losing to you puts them in an inferior position. You have become their enemy, their adversary.  They think your reality is the same as theirs.

You live in a win/win reality.  You want an equal relationship and do not expect anyone to lose.  You expect cooperation and an open mind.  You expect them to accept you, as you are accepting them.  You and the controller are living in two different realities.

 “People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”  ― Ralph Waldo Emerson


  • You were taught to be polite.
  • You believe the controller over your own instincts.
  • You do not realize that the controller lives in an alternate reality.
  • You take complete responsibility for the happiness of others.
  • You believe that the controlling behavior is normal.
  • You have low self worth. You believe you deserve this treatment.

WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT? Recognize when you are being controlled!

You feel: 

  • On guard
  • Afraid of harm
  • Afraid of rejection
  • Afraid to be spontaneous, to be yourself
  • Confused
  • Judged and found lacking
  • Inadequate
  • Uncertain of yourself
  • A need to explain yourself further
  • Responsible for working things out
  • More willing to believe the controller than your own instincts
  • You are getting mixed messages
  • Crazy

When you feel uncomfortable about a statement or action, consider that something is wrong.  Either your perception is wrong or the other person has overstepped your boundaries.  Share your feelings with this person.  If your feelings are ignored or invalidated or you are afraid to share your feelings, you have a problem.

STOP REACTING. Another person cannot verbally or emotionally control you if you do not let him.  If the person uses physical force, that person is abusive. Get help now!

“Self-trust is the first secret to success. Believe in and trust yourself.”

― Anonymous

Believe in yourself. Decide that you are your final authority for your thoughts, feelings, words, or actions. Do not give the other person authority to validate your worth.  Recognize that this person’s action is based in his reality.  Trying to convince this person that he is wrong is ignoring his reality.  Choose how you will act and what you will say and do based on what is best for you.

  • Stop believing that you are solely responsible for making the relationship work.
  • Stop being vulnerable and afraid.  Work on your insecurities and hot buttons.
  • Do not accept toxic, destructive behavior.
  • Develop a support group of people who appreciate you.
  • If all else fails, remove yourself from the relationship.

There is no positive reason for you to give control to others.  The abuse of control is often evasive.  People feel abused without knowing why.  If you let it, abuse can take tiny bites out of your self-confidence until you are an empty shell.  If you have given control of some part of your life, take it back.  You know what is best for you.  You do not need someone to confirm that you have value.


  • Who do you feel uncomfortable around?
  • Do they control you?
  • If so, what are you going to do about it?
  • Are you comfortable with yourself, with who you are?
  • If not, what are you doing to change that?

©B. Eddy

[box type=”bio”] Betty Eddy is a published author and member of the Netiv community. Her work as a life coach has given her unique insight into self help. In her book “Untying the Knots of Life” she deals with concepts which guides the reader though self discovery. [/box]

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