I remember when I first found out that I was a control freak.
I was having a conversation with a family member. The talk became heated, and he accused me of being "abusive".
Well, that threw me for a loop.
I'd considered myself to be one of the nicest people around! Abusive?! I'd bent over backwards for this person!
But his character assessment of me continued to stay with me as the days went by. I mean, do all abusers KNOW they are abusers? Like I often do when I'm bothered by something, I began doing obsessive research. Or what I like to call "the down and dirty."
I set about trying to learn as much about abuse as I possibly could. The different kinds, what leads people to become abusive, the signs of an abusive relationship….on and on and on.
And, to my relief, I realized that I was indeed NOT abusive.
I was, however, a little bit of a bully.
That was when I came to the terms with the fact that I was a control freak and a bully.
My MO was giving unsolicited advice to my loved ones and then getting angry when they didn't take it.
I spent way to much time being pissed off. And I was alienating people that I cared about.
"You can't change what you don't acknowledge." says TV psychologist legend and Oprah protege Dr. Phil.
Well, I'd acknowledged it. Now I had to do the work to change.
The first step was identifying what motivated me to be this way in the first place. I had to be getting something out of it.
When people got angry with me due to my actions I always justified them by saying that I did it out of love. Because I cared about them.
But that wasn't true. I did it out of fear.
I was afraid if that if my people didn't need me for my all-knowing wisdom and superior life-running skills that they wouldn't want me around anymore.
I wanted to be necessary in their lives. I din't want them to stop loving me.
So to compensate I meddled and "helpfully" suggested and criticized. It was ridiculous!
"What you fear you create." That's another Dr. Phil-ism. (I don't know where all this Dr. Phil stuff is coming from. I legitimately have not watched Dr. Phil for 10 years or more…is he even still on?) I was afraid of people I loved not wanting me around, but my control freak actions were causing that very thing to come true!
So I'd figured out the reason, and then I had to take action.
I decided that I was no longer going to offer any advice. To anyone. The only exception would be if someone asked me for it and then I could go to town.
It sounds WAY easier than it was.
My first test came when I had to sit and watch Jenn buy a brand new Toyota RAV4 without consulting me. I longed to ask about the process. What if I didn't intervene and she got ripped off by the dealer?!
What if?? What if??
My obsessive brain took it to the absolute worst case scenario. If she did get ripped off then what? It wouldn't affect my life in the least. No one would die. Life would go on.
I breathed deep and learned to let go.
Eventually I realized that the non-meddling me was a much happier person. And, guess what? No one stopped loving me, and gradually everyone began actually asking for my help sometimes!
It was a major turning point in my life. And as I began coaching in the Fitness and Nutrition world, I began to use the lessons I'd learned to help other people.
Now I know that if clients are looking to make a change, we need to identify the reasons why they adopted the behaviors they want to change to begin with. What is the fear that is holding them back from who they want to be? We've got to confront that fear before real progress can begin.
And I also know that I need to let my inner control freak go and the client be the decision maker in what their goals are (newsflash, Fitness Pros out there, not everyone's main priority is losing weight!). I define my job as someone who helps people accomplish their individual hopes and dreams. I am hyper vigilant about not assuming anything about their journey, or pushing any agenda on them.
Remember, it IS possible to change any area of your life that you're not happy with.
Have a great day! I'm off to stream some Dr. Phil reruns!