How to Handle Controlling People

We’re all going to run into them; they seek to parasitize our personhood, to suck our soul; yet they may be unaware of what they are up to and we may just be left confused, hurt, or, worse case scenario, we may submit to their domination.

I do recognize controlling behavior, be it ever so subtle, though as perhaps a too-trusting person, it may take me a long time. I choose to think well of people-until they prove otherwise.

Two controlling women: Lisa is eighty, was abused as a child, and in turn, abuses others to get her way. She has physically assaulted three other seniors in the two years I’ve been here. One of those seniors is disabled and one is a nun, the third was just sitting, minding her own business when Lisa threw a chair and hit her. Not hard to see a controlling person here, using the violent, alpha baboon technique. Her excuse was “It’s my Sicilian temper.” Right. And if I’m Irish, I have to get drunk and have fistfights?

Lisa should be charged with assault and dodder around jail attending anger management classes. The other woman is Sheryl. Sheryl’s family was so dysfunctional, she was sent here as a toddler to be raised in the then-orphanage. She understandably constructed a family from the house parents and fellow children. She has family loyalty; any threat to family unity, any reminder that those ‘golden days’ are past, makes her furious, which she ascribes to the “Graham temper.”

The message is: Walk on egg shells around Grahams-they have a quick temper. In other words, do as I say or I’ll savage you. Nothing personal, it’s the Graham temper. Horse shit. We all have a temper, failure to control it is no source of pride. Sheryl oppressed Diane openly and obviously, ordering her around and rebuking her for her connection with her daughter, who Sheryl said was trying to control and rob Diane. Sheryl was controlling Diane for her own good, you see. And doing her favors, for which Diane should be suitably and eternally grateful.

Diane moved back home with her daughter like a thief in the night. Sheryl was livid!!! I did not join Sheryl in this emotion, I just missed Diane, and still do. For not agreeing with Sheryl, I got the Graham temper. When the local church had a leadership shuffle and I didn’t agree to take Carol’s side in the battle (I refused to take any side) I got the Graham temper.

Nope, I’m not going to be who you fantasize me to be. I am who I am, take it or leave it. She is trying to leave it. At lunch with mutual friends yesterday, she not only gave me the silent treatment, she went out of her way to remind the friends how she and they had so much in common; to solidify a clique against me. I find these control games to be repulsive and juvenile and I’m not playing. The friends are still my friends as far as I’m concerned. If she succeeds in this sneak attack, I’ll have other friends. But I’ll miss these and I’ll wish them well.

I wish Sheryl well, I’m just not playing this game.

From Psychology Today 

If someone defines you, even in subtle ways, they are pretending to know the unknowable. There is a quality of fantasy to their words and sometimes to their actions. Even so, they are usually unaware of the fact that they are playing “let’s pretend.” They fool themselves and sometimes others into thinking that what they are saying is true or that what they are doing is right. When people “make up” your reality—as if they were you—they are trying to control you, even when they don’t realize it. —Evans, Patricia (2009), Controlling People (p. 58). Adams Media.

Control can be ever so subtle, hidden behind the pretense of help, advice, a suggestion, or a joke. But it is none of those things—it is a conscious or subconscious attempt to rip out your soul and put in a new one: The one they created.

If you recognize controlling people and stand up to them, then the controller loses. He or she fails to replace your inner self with the one they created. They will hate you-unless they get healed. I hope they do get healed, but that’s their task, not mine.

1 Comment

  1. I agree completely about controlling people. Whatever you do, don’t let yourself be talked into psychotherapy (emphasis on “rape”) or addiction counseling, should you ever have a problem. Never subordinate your soul to another person’s judgment. William Faulkner: “Every man is the arbiter of his own virtues, but let no man prescribe for another man’s well-being.” The oracle at Delphi: “Know yourself.”

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