Beyond Being a Control Freak

I read a book by Laura Doyle called The Empowered Wife. Besides finding it transformational for my marriage, it was eye opening for me to see what a control freak I can be.

Now the good news is that I know I am not my behavior, I know I’m not locked into “this is my personality,” and I’m seeing how Thought is showing up more deeply than I ever did before. 

There is one insight I wanted to share. Behind all control is fear (which is made up of Thought). I have heard that before, but I had an experience that blew my habit up in my face (in a good way).

As I’ve been focusing on creating intimacy in my marriage, I’ve gotten so much visibility as to how often I try to control my husband. Even just simple questions like what are you doing? Are you sure you want to eat that? Did you make that phone call yet? What time did you call the Uber for? Do you remember you have to take the kids to school tomorrow? Why are you turning left here?

I now see that it’s disrespectful and have a better understanding of why he becomes reliably defensive and distant when I do that. Shocker alert: I’ve been doing it for 20 years under the guise of I’m just curious, I need to know in order to make my plans or it feels better to be in the know.

So this week I found myself in a sticky situation.  We are dealing with something that could be filled with a lot of drama and he is supposed to make some phone calls to deal with it. As I’ve been aware of my controlling habit lately and choosing not to act on it, I’ve had to feel the intense level of anxiety that has been rising up in my body.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. My controlling habit has always been an answer to this anxiety. No different than a drug that releases the pent up pain. Somehow, I have experienced that controlling or trying to control has alleviated my discomfort from being in the unknown, giving me momentary relief from the anxiety. However it’s a counterfeit experience, an illusion that somehow through my control I am in the known.

I deeply saw that behind all control is fear and the anxious feeling was always telling me there is something deeper I am afraid of, but I was never willing to listen because I was too busy wanting to get out of feeling anxious and running to my habit…control! 

What was the deeper fear? For me it was a realization that somehow I don’t fully trust that Hashem loves me unconditionally or is really taking care of me (hence I have to control my life, my finances, my husband, protect myself, avoid being vulnerable, be perfect, the list goes on).

In the wake of this insight, as I was overwhelmed with anxiety about this situation, I did something different. I didn’t ask my husband if he made the calls because I saw that was me groping for some certainty. I just experienced the anxiety without any need for it to go away. I truly saw it as a temporary thought creation (fear of the unknown or not being taken care of is the form Thought was taking at that moment) and I could do fear and anxiety. It wasn’t comfortable, but boy was it empowering!

I don’t have to be afraid of the unknown. When I am aligned with the truth, that every experience is designed and brought to life by a loving G-d, Hashem Himself, I can handle anything. Anxiety is just a whisper (although it feels like a scream) letting me know I’ve fallen out of alignment with that truth. I can delude myself into believing that my controlling habit relieves my anxiety, but in light of my insight, I now see that looking toward the Source and realigning is the only thing that can really alleviate the anxiety.

What a relief because controlling everything is utterly exhausting! 

One thought on “Beyond Being a Control Freak”

  1. Batsheva says:

    Wow! Incredible insight!

Comments are closed.

Ride The Wave

By Aviva Barnett, MSW

Discover the secret to living
with peace of mind.

Buy Now!

Send Aviva a Message, Comment or Question

By submitting this form via this web portal, you acknowledge and accept the risks of communicating your health information via this unencrypted email and electronic messaging and wish to continue despite those risks. By clicking "Yes, I want to submit this form" you agree to hold Brighter Vision harmless for unauthorized use, disclosure, or access of your protected health information sent via this electronic means.


(973) 865-9062