Is Your Remote Control Working?
Remote controls are a wonderful thing. Can you believe that there was once a time when people had to physically go to the TV and MANUALLY change the channel?
We have come a long way with technology.
And the mental model that has developed from our comfort with remote controls is keeping us stuck.
In our "have it your way and the way you want it" culture, we have fallen into the trap of believing that everything in life can be controlled from the comfort of our couch.
And that has led to the emergence of people with control issues.
People want to control their experience in life simply by pointing their imaginary remote control at people and commanding them to obey.
Liz Ryan's post "Five Habits of Controlling People" on Forbes.com outlines these five habits of people who love to control (my paraphrasing):
They know it all...and then some.
Their perspective is always right...and the only one that matters.
They don't like when people don't listen to them...and it makes them angry.
They have a personal playbook that EVERYONE should play by.
They have all four of the above traits and see themselves as being "helpful."
Most of us have encountered at least one person like this in our lifetime. And if we are not careful, we can become THAT person.
During my career and work in church ministry, I have encountered many controlling people. And at times I have been a whisper away from being THAT person.
In a world where I am given the ability to control things, I begin to believe that I have the ability to control EVERYTHING.
My dear, this is not true. And if you live your life believing that this is truth, you (and more likely the people around you) will be most miserable indeed.
Your remote control should never be pointed at people. Let's face it, you can't keep yourself from doing things that don't align with your goals. If you could have controlled, you would have already achieved them and be living in joy and peace.
But you haven't. You can't control you. And you can't control other people.
But changing your mindset only requires a subtle shift. You just need to point your remote control in a different direction.
You need to aim your remote at your own thoughts and beliefs. For out of your thoughts "flow the issues of life."
"Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life." Proverbs 4:23
Living in joy and peace will require you to give up on controlling people. When you set people free, you set yourself free. It is just that simple.
But how do you get your remote control working and pointed in the right direction?
I have three key strategies that will help you:
Get to the core of the issue. Controlling people develop their habits because at some point, life and people failed them. The response to that was to learn how to control things so that "doesn't ever happen again." I am NOT talking about putting in healthy boundaries with other people. I'm talking about setting out to make people do what you want them to do (or make them stop doing what you don't want them to do). Underneath it all is a driving fear that you won't get what you need.
Take full responsibility for your own life. Controlling people have a nasty habit of blaming other people for...EVERYTHING. It is never their fault that things didn't turn out right. When we go into control mode, everyone around us becomes a target. "Things would have worked out perfectly fine if so and so hadn't..." And controlling people fail to see their own role in creating the situation. Giving up this bad mental model will require you to take full responsibility for your actions and decisions.
"I'm not sorry." Controlling people have very low empathy for others. They are too busy feeling bad for themselves and seeking sympathy from others. This traps them in a mentality of always seeing themselves as the victim. And so they kick into high self-protection mode by refusing to own their behavior and see how it impacts other people. Why should they own it? They are the victim, right? When you give up on control, you realize that everyone makes mistakes and people are not "out to get you." You need to grow up and learn how to apologize.
If you are dealing with your own controlling person, understand that what is going on is not about you. The controlling person has some deep and underlying issues driving their behavior. And trying to change them is not an option.
If you struggle with control, it's OK. You can change. And life is much better on the other side.
But you have to start by pointing the remote control to your thinking.
It's very simple. Change your mind and change your life.
And change is uncomfortable. I'm here to help.