The need to control others may not make a lot of sense to you. If you’re a live-and-let-live person, you’d never want to control someone else. Even if you’re a perfectionist, you stay on your own case all day, not necessarily someone else’s.

But controllers are out there. They want to micromanage what you say, how you act, even what you think quietly in your own mind. It could be your boss, your spouse, or even your parent. You can’t be yourself around them. They insist on being your top priority and want undue influence over your life. They might push your buttons to get an emotional reaction out of you because they want to exploit it as weakness. They have no respect for you or your boundaries.

There are plenty of theories why someone would want to control you. One is that people who can’t control themselves turn to controlling others. This happens on an emotional level. A person full of insecurities has to exact a positive sense of self from other people because their self esteem is too low to do it for themselves.

Maybe people control because they are afraid of being abandoned. They don’t feel secure in their relationships and are often testing to see if they’re about to be betrayed. The paradox is that their behavior creates exactly what they fear the most.

Perhaps controlling people are narcissists looking to control their environment by any means necessary. This would mean other people are pawns. They’re useful tools in the narcissist’s world to be used as he or she pleases. It’s nothing personal — you’re just a good pawn. The problem with this perspective is that controlling bullies often make us wonder, “Why me?” If it’s really nothing personal, “Why do I feel like a target?”

The simplest reason is that you’re a good, admirable person. There’s nothing wrong with you. You don’t have a target on your back, and you don’t deserve to be disrespected. It may sound like a radical concept, but what the controller wants is what you’ve got:

  • You’re able to feel good about yourself consistently and without constant reminders from the outside world that you’re worthy.
  • You’re secure in your accomplishments, your status, and your overall place in life.
  • Your attention makes other people feel good.
  • You can feel good about other people’s success — you’re not intimidated by others good fortune.

Given all those things, you know you deserve respect, but a controlling person is too intimidated to give it to you. They feel they must cut you down to size. It’s the only way they can tolerate being around you.

While there’s definitely an explanation for why the controller is the way they are, it doesn’t matter. It’s time to reclaim your power and focus on your own needs. This means setting steadfast boundaries and keeping the controller from stepping foot on the other side. Decide what you’re no longer willing to sacrifice. Some examples include:

  • No longer be made to feel like your ideas and contributions don’t matter.
  • Not letting them belittle your accomplishments and talk down to you.
  • Not allowing anyone to push your buttons.
  • Not willing not subjugate your own needs for this person.

The controller has been the beneficiary of your good will for too long. Now it’s time to put that in your own corner. It’s about self-preservation, and you’ll know when you’re doing it right because you won’t feel like a target anymore. In fact, the controller probably won’t have much use for you.

Make it perfectly clear to yourself each day that you’re in the driver’s seat and you’re not looking for anyone else to fill that position.

Businessman puppet photo available from Shutterstock