Control Freaking Out


Okay, I will freely admit it. I am a complete control freak. I hate it! But if other people could just be as smart and forward thinking as I am, I wouldn't have to spend all of my time trying to help everyone get it right!....kidding, kidding!.....sort of....

I've found that men I've been in relationships with tend to not like this very much. And I understand why. But I really do feel like I usually know the best way to do something. I'm a plotter and a fixer, and I'm pretty darn good at it. 

A few years ago, Brene Brown's book, "The Gifts of Imperfection" really fundamentally changed my perception of myself. She talks about how we label those self-perceived negative parts of ourselves and try to isolate them from the good parts. But the take away is that we can't have the truly good without the bad. We can't fully be our glorious, authentic selves if we are ashamed of big hunks of who we are. 

I wrote in a lot of detail in a blog post from a couple years ago, It's All the Shame, about how I really came to terms with a lot of the shame I used to feel about myself. I've worked through a lot of it but I still have pieces to work through and today I feel I did that again.

Yesterday I received some extremely stressful and upsetting information that will remain unresolved for some time and will require a lot of effort on my part to resolve. I spent the first part of the weekend extremely distracted and just really stressed out. This morning I started literally pacing the floor like a caged animal. It was threatening to become a full on panic attack. I could feel my chest tightening and the irrational anxiety growing. 

What could I do? I felt completely out of control. I looked around the house, yesterday I had decided to take it easy and barely cleaned anything. Now, Sunday morning....dirty dishes, legos in the living room, laundry piling up, it felt like chaos swirling everywhere. I felt an urge to run as fast as I could, away from life.

So I did the only thing I could do. The thing that has gradually replaced binging on garbage food over the years and has become my therapy....Like a woman possessed, I cleaned. And cleaned. And organized. And recycled. And folded and straightened and prepared and....ahhhhh. Peace. It was everywhere. I organized a list of phone numbers to start calling in the morning that will hopefully be a first step toward resolving my stressful situation. My mind finally grew a little quiet. 

It was my control freak. She had been losing it. I was running around trying to ignore her because she's obsessing about how to fix something today that there was NO way to fix today. I'm supposed to be all Zen and "everything will unfold the way it should." She's not allowing me to be Buddha-like. She's stressing me out. She's bad. 

But she's not. 

As I sit here tonight almost completely at peace, I can't help but realize that she doesn't need to control everything. She understands that there's this emotionally and, potentially financially, draining situation looming over our heads and she can't control it. But she needed to be dealt with so that she can try! If chaos is swirling around her, how is she supposed to draw deep from that power that she possesses? To find that determination where she sinks in her heels and doesn't stop until she finds a way. 

So I let her control what she could. She made everything beautiful and even made an amazingly tasty, healthy dinner. In fact, she made me feed my body healthy food all day because she needed to know that at least she COULD control that! 

I've fully integrated my inner control freak and am officially claiming it as an asset. I am a control freak. When I feel out of control I look around and figure out what I CAN control and I do it. That's not me feeding this negative control freak side of myself. It's me recognizing who I am, way past the socially stigmatized labels, and seeing that this is a need within me that needs to be met in order for me to be my best version of myself. And I meet it. I feed that part of myself that I once labeled bad and forced to live in a dark place, and it makes me grow.

Furthermore, my control freak makes me a great trainer. And it's perfectly balanced with my other (no longer) "negative" trait of being overly sensitive to possibly hurting someone's feelings. So, while I try to have my hand in every aspect of a client's life that they'll allow me to slink into (something SO important for real, sustainable change), I'm not a bulldog about it. I gently and subtly, yet consistently, coax them toward change.

It's not everyone's cup of tea. Some people WANT a bulldog. Some people just want me to work them out and shut my trap. But, as for that little slice that is MY demographic, I am their trainer for life. And I love them for appreciating me so it makes me work extra hard for them and put my heart and soul into it.

My perfect combination of ALL my traits makes me exactly who I am and I am just truly starting to embrace that with no apologies....or very few anyway.


We are all perfectly beautiful in our own way. We just need to embrace, and be embraced for, our entire selves. Not just the squeaky clean, socially acceptable, admirable things. All it of. Shame is not a useful emotion.

One of my favorite quotes by the late, great Debbie Ford is:


"Your life will be transformed when you make peace with your shadow. The caterpillar will become a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly. You will no longer have to pretend to be someone you're not. You will no longer have to prove you're good enough. When you embrace your shadow you will no longer have to live in fear. Find the gifts of your shadow and you will finally revel in all the glory of your true self. Then you will have the freedom to create the life you have always desired.” 

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