Counseling and Hypnotherapy

Dealing with Difficult People

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Dealing With Controlling People


Difficulties frequently arise within relationships when one party becomes too controlling.  The person who is being controlled can feel lost and disengaged from their own decision making process.  And eventually, may not feel able to stand up for themselves and make decisions with out consulting the controller. In this type of extreme circumstance the controlling can be viewed as abusive behavior, and could even progress to violence.


Means of Control  


Defining the other person: The person who controls comes up with ways to describe the other person which over time, become the reality of the relationship.  Example:  “Why is it always about you? You always have to be the center of attention.”


Diminishing: The controller diminishes the other person’s authentic self to create justification for stepping in and taking control.  Example:  “Why can’t you do anything right?  You are such a loser.”


Isolating: The controlling person loses their grip when the other person has social contacts that are a source of validation.  Example:  “I do not want you spending time with people from work. Your family doesn’t know what they are talking about; don’t talk to them about our business.”


Verbal abuse:  This type of controlling is abusive and includes name calling, blaming, withholding praise and encouragement, and offering judgment or criticism instead.  The verbal abuse may take the form of giving commands or making threats.


Individuals living with unaddressed verbal abuse may also be at risk for physical domestic violence, which is a crime.


The Person Who Controls:

Nearly anyone can be perceived as being controlling, and much of the time they are clueless that they are at all controlling.  It’s quite the opposite; they feel that the other person being controlled is the one with the power in the relationship.  After all, the controlled person simply can to refuse to go along with the control attempts, and the controller is left feeling abandoned and rejected.  It is the fear of being abandoned or rejected that causes the controller to use control methods in the first place.   


The Controlled Person:

Controlling people would not have any power without the cooperation of the person being controlled.  A person can be drawn into a controlling relationship for any number of reasons; one reason is likely connected to a person’s self-esteem.  When a person feels that others are more intelligent or talented that person may not object much to being told what to do.  Perhaps a person was raised in a family in which there was a large amount of control, and therefore being in a controlling adult relationship seems comfortable or is thought of as natural.  Some people think that they can gain closeness and earn respect by acquiescing to another's wishes. 


Over time however, the controlled person starts to feel disillusioned.  A person wants to trust and help other people but when that trust is exploited by a controlling individual conflicted feelings will arise.



Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship:

Controlling behavior can escalate to dangerous levels which is a situation that calls for action. If any of these warning signs are a part of your relationship experience talk to a professional. Get help and get out of danger.

  1. Treats you like anything less than an equal.
  2. Denies you access to money keeps you from work or school.
  3. Hits, punches, slaps, pushes you, or uses any type of physical violence.
  4. Acts very possessive, is very jealous, or accuses you of cheating.
  5. Calls you names, humiliates or embarrasses you.
  6. Blames you for all the problems in the relationship.
  7. Controls what you wear, whom you see, where you go.
  8. Forces or coerces you to have sex.
  9. Has a quick and violent temper.


Creating Some Positive Changes:

Many controlling people are surprised to learn that someone else thinks they are behaving in a controlling manner.  From the controller’s perspective they are just trying to get close to the other person by sharing their thoughts about how to do things, but they have little empathy for the person who is under their control.  When the controlled person resists the controller it leaves the person attempting to control feeling lost and abandoned.


This type of relationship can be filled with conflict and they often end with a bitter breakup.  With the help of a skilled therapist both the person who controls and the person who is controlled can gain a better understanding of why the controlling situation occurred.  And, explore the reasons for entering into this type of relationship while learning new ways of relating so that future relationships are healthy.  

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Port Jefferson, NY 11777
(631) 473-0405

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