Controlling people will ruin your life. One of my first jobs after college, I had a very controlling boss. He was the kind of boss that always pulled me into his office and asked me for updates almost every hour on the projects I was working on. He'd circle over to my desk, and my computer, and look at my computer to see what I was looking at, and say, "Hey, what are you looking at?" All the time, or throughout the day. Constantly checking up on me, a very, very annoying micro-manager.
I used to come to work, and I used to think, "This guy is the bane of my existence. It's driving nuts." I felt helpless, and I felt trapped. It was the worst, but after I dug into it a little bit more, I realized that he wasn't really the problem, I was the problem. I was allowing this behavior to continue. I was actually inviting his behavior because I was seeking approval from him. He pulled me into his office, and talked to me for a little bit, asked me about the project, and subconsciously I’d think, "Now I'm a little bit closer to my boss," or I’d think, "Now my job is a little bit safer," because he checked up on me.
I was encouraging his behavior. It wasn't until I finally stepped up and stopped allowing that, and stopped looking to him for approval that things got better. Maybe you've experienced this somewhere in your life. Maybe you've had a micromanaging boss, maybe you have a colleague who likes to control the thermostat in the office, or somebody at home that likes things a certain way, or maybe a relationship partner that wants you to check up on them all the time.
Either way, it's not fun, and it can be very draining. How do you stop this? First of all, you definitely should because controlling behavior has been shown to be linked from everything from lower performance in work, in your regular life, to also reduced health. A higher mortality rate is linked to controlling, perfectionist kind of behavior. Whether you are dealing with the controlling person, or whether you are a controlling person yourself, you'll be able to identify this kind of behavior and put an end to it quickly, because we all have these kinds of tendencies and a lot of us have these kind of people around us that like to be controlling.
How do you deal with this? The first thing is to take a relationship fast. Be okay with spending a little bit of time by yourself, and then pushing yourself away from all these relationships that you tend to rely on. It's only when you step away that you are able to really get a better perspective on who should be in your life and who shouldn't, because there are negative and controlling people out there. Only by stepping away are you able to identify this behavior, because sometimes when you are right in it, you can't see it.
Step away. Go on a relationship fast, whether it's just for as few days or a few weeks, and really see which relationships are good for you, and which relationships are not so good for you.
The second thing is once you realize which relationships shouldn't be there, get rid of those relationships. Some of them you might need to cut out of your life entirely, others you might need to set new boundaries. Again, this comes down to taking personal responsibility, and not just wishing and hoping that it's going to get better, it's going to change.
If somebody is micromanaging everything that you do in life, if they are keeping you in check with their behavior, whatever it might be, people have a lot of different games, play a lot of different passive and aggressive games. Make sure that you make that decision, a strong decision to say, "No more," or to set new boundaries.
Finally, taking responsibility. That's the third thing. Learning to validate yourself, realizing that your need for approval is why a lot of these people come into your life.
A lot of us let in negative people, controlling people, manipulative people, because we secretly want them to like us, or we openly want them to like us. This can include friends, family members, colleagues, people you work with, whatever it might be. Take responsibility for yourself. Foster a sense of self-confidence, self-reliance. Validate yourself. Make sure you celebrate your own victories. Make sure you give yourself a sense of approval, so you're not constantly reaching for a sense of approval from everybody else, just like I was doing with my past boss.
If you apply these three things, if you make sure to step away and identify which relationships are good for you, which relationships are bad for you, and then make a decision to reset boundaries, or you can cut some out all together, and then finally taking responsibility for yourself, and giving yourself approval and not seeking it, you will be much happier and you will be much successful.