If you are alive, you have met controlling people.
Controlling people can drive anyone crazy, but If you are a highly sensitive person, you may find the effect of controlling very difficult to live with.
Controlling people can certainly have that effect on me.
Controlling people will probably not understand why their behavior is problematic for you, the HSP.
Each HSP, however, needs to understand that controlling people can be very bad for their health.
Why Do People Control?
Most people only want to be happy. Many believe that controlling themselves and others is a method to achieve the desired result of happiness.
Some of the reasons people try to control others include:
- they have low amounts of trust possible because of negative experiences
- they think they are more competent
- they have deep seated prejudices about right and wrong
- they have been taught fear
- they perceive themselves as better and/or more “normal” than others
Controlling people sometimes assume that others want and need what they want and need. Although we all have needs and desires in common, over generalizing about other people is a mistake that controlling people often make.
Controlling people often treat others as an extension of their needs and desires. In extreme cases, the person is narcissistic in demanding that they be catered to.
So one reason that controlling people control is to get their needs met.
The Hidden Agenda Of Controlling People
It is fairly easy to recognize that controlling people are trying to get their needs met as we have discussed.
Controlling behavior also has a social function: to maintain their comfort level which they do by enforcing social norms and conforming behavior.
One thing I have noticed about controlling people is that they often have a wall around them. You can detect it in interacting with them. They are often guarded and measured.because deep down they are afraid. Protecting themselves from that fear can be their hidden agenda.
So if there is a conflict between a controlling person’s comfort zone and another person, the comfort zone will likely win out.
The Comfort Zone Dilemna
The controlling comfort zones of other people can be hard for the highly sensitive person to handle for several reasons:
- we are naturally loathe to hurt others. We can feel bad when we upset someone’s comfort zone, when we had no intention of doing harm. Such negative reactions over time can cause us to pull back, and doubt ourselves. We can see ourselves in an unnecessarily negative light.
- we are sensitive to nuances which means that what we perceive to be a constructive course of action may interfere with someone else’s comfort zone. We can take on and internalize the conflict blaming ourselves and as a result cause ourselves a lot of emotional pain.
- we are naturally creative which means our strategies may be way out of the box for our colleagues and friends. We can have a lot of difficulty navigating our creative differences with others.
- we can be very farsighted in a shortsighted world. Our long sightedness may step on the comfort zone of people who seek short term rewards.
All of the wonderful qualities of highly sensitive people can make their relationships difficult because an HSPs talents can often lead to unwelcome change.
So what to do about this?
Letting Possibilities Guide Us
Handling fear – our fear or the fear of others - is an important skill to master.
When we are dealing with controlling people, we can use our natural empathy to help others reduce their fear:
- we can demonstrate the benefits of an action
- we can offer proof
- we can demonstrate that there is nothing to lose and everything to gain if that is the case
- e can take the risks out of the closet, put them on the table and create a positive perception about how they can be handled.
Sometimes we can make the case for moving out of our comfort zones. When the possibilities are attractive enough and the risks well handled, successful forward movement is possible.
What about those situations when you are not able to create enthusiasm for new possibilities?
Let Compassion Be Your Guide
There are many situations where an individual or an group is not interested in change and you have to honor their decision. Sometimes when an individual is controlling in favor of their comfort zone, they are respecting their own limits, and that is a healthy decision to make.
I think it is dangerous to assume what someone else needs or should do. Many of us require healing. The demands of healing may preclude creative activities. Or perhaps an individual simply has too much on their plate. That happens frequently as well.
It is important to honor where someone is and treat it with respect even if you do not agree and think they are wrong. You cannot force change and you might be doing harm in pushing too much. Very controlling people may have made a decision in favor of a less creative lifestyle in order to respect their personal needs.
Whenever we encourage a controlling person to let go of fear and try something new, we need to be promoting joy and wellness. We need to be supporting the agenda of our higher selves and the higher self of the other person. That may mean that we need to back off.
Highly sensitive people are lucky that their natural empathy can help them find compassionate relationship choices that can help a controlling person feel heard and loved. That is a great way to reduce fear, and helps others engage more with life.
What is a great gift to offer others!