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Caree Brown L.C.S.W. Psychotherapy

Individual, Couples, & Family Therapy


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Don’t Let the Control Fool You

Ever wonder if controlling people are as confident as the might have you think? The truth is that underneath their brittle armour of controlling behavior lies a huge reservoir of fear, likely stuffed from childhood.

If we have parents who accept and empathize with our feelings and model constructive ways to express and resolve them, then we are lucky. We, in turn, can afford to be comfortable with our array of emotions and deal with them in healthy ways. Contrarily, if our parents are not attuned to our feelings and model a denial of their own emotions of fear and vulnerability, repressing our feelings became our only choice.

Our fear, hurt, embarrassment, and shame go underground and our vulnerability gets played out indirectly by how we experience the world. We tend to see  the world as a dangerous place and we seriously doubt our ability to manage it all. We can react by adopting a stance of submissiveness and passivity or by becoming overly accommodating, ie. a people pleaser.  Or, by contrast, we can develop a style that is more aggressive and controlling, desperately needing things to be a certain way.

We are not just afraid of what is on the outside. We are afraid of what is on the inside,as well. We are afraid of our feelings and we are afraid of being afraid. Both extremes of reacting to repressed fear indicate our insecurity about our ability to cope with what the universe brings our way. If we passively go along with things and avoid all conflict, then we can pretend that we are safe in our submissive pose. On the other hand, if we can aggressively control people or events and make them go our way, we can appear self-confident and in control.

Neither adaptation is optimal, of course. A person who feels comfortable with all his feelings and is better able to manage them will be more balanced, confident and appropriately assertive.  He will be happier and better able to cope with life’s ups and downs. He trusts that he can handle whatever comes his way because he knows feelings come and go. Only by staying with our feelings do we learn not to be afraid of being afraid. And when we are confident of managing our own feelings, we don’t need to aggressively make things turn out a certain way. We know we can handle the situation however it turns out because we know we can handle ourselves. We won’t need to control anybody else because we can feel confident in our ability to control ourselves!

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