Being the captain of your life is vital. Some people are natural born leaders. This can be welcoming, especially for someone who may be indecisive in a particular situation. However, over time, someone who consistently makes decisions that you somehow find yourself going along with may be inadvertently communicating to you that they: 1) Do not value your opinion, 2) Do not trust your judgment, or 3) Do not respect you. Regardless of the perspective, each one yields the same result: Controlling you.
Finding yourself tied into someone’s projected control can be subtle, and can happen in just about any relationship. After all, we live in a society of leaders and followers, doers and observers, those who take initiative and those who spectate. As you choose your role, patterns slowly seep in, and become more noticeable over time.
There isn’t really any one thing, in my humble opinion, that causes someone to be controlling or not. However, this particular trait is something to look out for in others for a variety of reasons. Firstly, you don’t want to lend yourself to being someone’s scapegoat. More importantly, you don’t want to find yourself in an abusive relationship.
As we draw nearer to Domestic Violence Awareness month in October, there is at least one thing that can be taken note of to help you to avoid finding yourself in an abusive situation: Controlling behavioral patterns.
Controlling behavior is a huge red flag that you are dealing with a partner who has the propensity to be abusive. Setting and adhering to boundaries at the outset (aka: nipping it in the bud) can help you to avoid finding yourself in an abusive relationship. Keep in mind, abuse comes in more than physical form.
“You…deserve to acknowledge your boundaries and communicate them clearly with the people around you…Whatever your needs are, you have to give yourself permission to explain them, ask for them to be respected, and expect that the people in your life will respect the boundaries that you set. If you respect your boundaries, others will too” .
Sometimes you have to stop to ask yourself whether you are doing something because it is your interest or desire, or whether it is someone else’s, even with the seemingly minute details. When opportunity presents itself, the puppeteers start to pull strings.
Something else to keep in mind is the old adage: If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. If you’ve clearly communicated a boundary, but find yourself up against someone who is unremitting, that may simply not be the best situation for you. After all, there is a balance between standing firm for something you want, and manipulating someone else into going along with it.
If you stop for a moment and really think about it, someone who tends to exhibit controlling behavioral patterns has a hard time accepting ‘no’, and will say and do many things to get their way. Emotional manipulation can manifest via threats, belittling, or teasing . The end result would be either yielding to the emotional manipulation or rebelling against it. Ideally, for the individual who has pegged someone they believe they are capable of controlling, the recipient will relent and give them what they desire. For you – the reward for not being firm about your boundaries: Misery and self-doubt, at a minimum. Viola. You’ve created a threshold for when you will give in to their tactics.
To be fair, I’m not advocating for anyone to be unnecessarily combative. When someone shows you that they do not value your opinion, trust your judgment, or simply that they do not respect you, are you willing to walk away?
Recognize the signs. Stand firm. Respect yourself.
- King, Vex. Healing is the New High. Hay House, 2021.