“That is the mystery of grace: it never comes too late.” – Francois Mauriac
Nothing suffers more from overcontrol than our relationships. Trying to control other people does nothing besides push them away. At the root of all controlling behavior is the desire to control one’s own anxiety. For the controller, it creates peace and calm and a taste of power over everything that seems beyond real control; namely people and time. For “control freaks” compromise doesn’t feel gratifying – a victory does. The result? Relationships are damaged.
So how do you repair a relationship you’ve damaged by overcontrol? Every relationship – those in pain and pleasure – can benefit from a generous amount of grace. Grace offers the gift of being accepted before we are acceptable. It doesn’t demand perfection and it doesn’t manipulate or cajole. Grace frees the spirit to let go and let be.
Ask For Grace
The most crucial step in repairing a relationship you’ve damaged by overcontrol is to ask for grace. This step can be humiliating, it can feel daring, or even make you downright nervous. But it is vitally important. Reach out to the person you love and ask for forgiveness and grace. Apologize for your former actions and let them know you are taking steps to let go of your controlling ways.
It can be tough for anyone to apologize, but especially those who like to be in control. This courageous step of asking a loved one for forgiveness and grace will clear the way for a fresh start and restored relationship. It sends a signal that you are serious about relinquishing your control, and value your relationship.
If there is a behavior you are irritated by in others, look into the mirror and ask yourself if this a behavior that you have not confronted or resolved in yourself as well. Have you ever thought “It’s not me that needs to manage my anger, it’s you.” Or, “It’s not me that needs to quit gossiping, it’s you.” Then chances are this is a projection onto others that you need to fix as well. The first step? Give grace to others.
When controlling people get annoyed by someone’s actions it can be a behavior in themselves that they need to resolve as well. As long as you have not controlled that aspect of yourself, it is likely to be a source of supreme annoyance to you when other people do it. And that’s why you need to give them grace.
The rebuilding of controlling relationships rests on the spiritual experience of the grace from God. Controlling people spin a web of control so tight it entraps others and themselves. These people need God’s grace to free them. They need grace to sink deep down into their hearts and loosen their fists from their compulsive need to control the things they know they really can’t.
Grace is not a magic pill you can swallow – it’s the experience of being accepted. When you are able to receive God’s grace into your heart, you will receive the balm that soothes the anxious soul. You’ll realize you are accepted with no chance of being rejected. Grace will come free of charge.
When you are able to ask for grace, give grace, and receive grace you’ll be on your way to rebuilding and repairing a relationship damaged by overcontrol.
If you’d like to learn more about coping with a controlling personality, check out the following book: The Control Freak.
Do you have a controlling personality, or are you living with a spouse who does? How do you navigate this?