How to Get Control Over Your Controlling Behavior – Part Two

man looking into shattered mirrorIn my previous blog, I listed behaviors that can indicate our own controlling behavior. Controlling behavior is the attempt to control how others act, think, feel, respond, live, use their money, and more. Controlling behavior violates the boundaries of healthy relationships and will damage any relationship: marriage, siblings, coworkers, neighbors, and anywhere you find two or more people.

As a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23), self-control is something to seek. Attempting to control others is something to surrender. So, how do we get control over our controlling behavior? I can guarantee you that it won’t just happen.

In this blog, I share some conclusions I’ve drawn about how we can get control over our controlling behavior.

Overcoming Our Controlling Behavior

1. Accept the truth

First, we need to accept the truth about ourselves.

What did you learn about yourself from my previous blog? Did you take more than a few minutes to think about it? Have you asked anyone if you tend to be controlling?

Next, . . . distinguish between what we cannot control and what we can control.

There are two things we cannot control.

  1. We cannot control others. If we think we can, then we’re probably using manipulation or a form of coercion or bribery.
  2. We cannot control our circumstances.
    True, we can control the thermostat in our home, but we cannot control the weather or when our furnace or AC decides to break down.
    True, we can control our driving, but not the driving of others.
    We can control our spending, but we cannot prevent emergencies or a rising interest rate.

Though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we respond to and navigate through them. This brings us to identifying what we can control.

We can control only two things in life. Sometimes, we’re barely successful with these.

  1. We can control ourselves.
  2. We can control how we treat others.

That’s it! That’s all!

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl stated, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” (p. 112).

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

2. Be Open to Change in You

Years ago, I heard a musical artist humorously illustrate all the things in our lives over which we have no control. His stories made a memorable impression on me, but I cannot say that they changed me. My core instinct still sought to control.

Perhaps the same is true for you. You’ve heard sermons or read articles on the subject, nodded your head in agreement, but continued in your pattern of control.

I consulted with some friends who were controllers in the past but have made progress in overcoming their controlling behavior. For many of us, a situation intersected with our lives that either prompted or jolted us into the reality that we cannot have control. For me, it has taken multiple such situations, one being the men’s event, which I referenced in my previous blog. Oftentimes, God uses a crisis in our lives.

God uses events and circumstances to confront us with the reality of what we cannot and should not try to control.
Are we open to such life-changing experiences?

These God-designed scenarios aim to conform us to the character of Christ (Romans 8:29). We can open our hearts now to opportunities for transformation and growth. The Psalmist David opened his heart through his prayer of surrender.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

We can open our hearts now to opportunities for transformation and growth.

3. Seek Help

There are some things we don’t have the ability to do on our own. Overcoming our controlling tendencies is one of them. Fortunately for followers of Jesus, God is ready to infuse His power and life into us.

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Galatians 5:22,23 NLT

God can empower us with the fruit of self-control so that we can surrender our attempt to control everything else.

In this process, God sometimes uses a trustworthy counselor. I know God has done this for me. Good counselors can identify our blind spots and point us back to healthier pathways.

We can also seek help from a trustworthy and wise friend who loves us but does not overlook our controlling behaviors. Seek their help and be open to how they speak into your life.

As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 27:17 NLT

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