How can I change my controlling personality?

Dear Daughters,
Having a controlling personality that dominates your relationships with others may alienate friends and relatives. Instead of feeling as if there is give and take in the relationship, they may begin to believe that their feelings and opinions do not matter.
If you find that you are often the one who controls things around your significant other, friends and family, there are things you can do to alter your actions and curb this negative personality trait. Here are some tips:
Identify the issue: Recognizing why you are controlling is the first step in turning things around. Many people who feel the need to be in control of others are often burdened by feelings of inadequacy and helplessness. Controlling situations and others may make you unconsciously feel successful instead of vulnerable. Often, this stems from pride or fear. Identifying the basis of your personality may require professional help. Talking to a therapist may help.
Change your view: Many controlling people unrealistically think that the world revolves around them and that everyone is watching. Because of that, they try to control situations that meet up to their standards because they fear they will otherwise be judged poorly. The fact is that other people are not consumed with thoughts about you. Be confident in what you do and allow others to be themselves.
• Go with the flow: Evaluate your reactions and behavior with others. Learn to lighten up and understand that some things can “just happen.” Sure, you can pay attention to details, but you do not have to go to the extreme of making lists about how things should be done. For example, if you and friends go out for Italian food, and one friend decides to order something from the menu that is not traditionally Italian, do not make a fuss. Let individuals make their choices instead of scolding your friend about what you all planned to do.
Have a little faith: Situations can still turn out well, even if every detail you planned somehow fails. Not everything will collapse. For example, if you and your spouse go for a Hawaiian vacation, and the hotel fails to save the ocean-view room you requested but instead upgrades you to a deluxe room with a beautiful view of the mountains, enjoy the room, and do not let that one detail ruin the rest of your vacation.
• Accept and confess: Realize that your need to control is not about the people you are with; it is about feelings you have. Discuss your feelings with your significant other or your friends. Let them know you realize this personality trait and are working to correct your issue. Ask them for feedback, and be accepting of what they have to say, as it may very well help your efforts.
Learn to relinquish control: More than anything, you will need to control your own controlling actions. Learn to recognize when it is happening, and then stop. Sometimes it is helpful to walk away from the situation for a bit, think about allowing something to happen unlike you planned, and then return. Recognize that making these changes will not necessarily be quick.
This is a pattern that you probably have developed over a long time. Taking the time to recognize the issue and then preventing it will take practice. It will take patience and assistance from family and friends to remind and reassure you. You may also need to realize that making changes like this are very difficult. If you cannot improve on your own, accept that is it OK to seek professional help.

As always,

Love Mom

• National Institute of Mental Health:

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