On the need for being in control

Hi. My name is Carol and I’m a reformed control-aholic.

I think my story is fairly common among women, especially A-type personality chicks regardless of their career choice (you don’t need to be running for president to want to be in charge. …)

How do you identify whether you’re a control-aholic? Here are some examples you may be able to relate to:

  1. Your husband is driving. He pulls into a parking lot with hundreds of empty spaces. Even before you realize it, it’s out of your mouth,”Why don’t you park in THIS ONE, dear??”
  2. You are at a restaurant with a group of people. The waitress arrives to take your order and no one in your group appears to be responding to her requests. You react by getting the group’s attention and serve as liaison and interpreter.
  3. It’s a Saturday afternoon and for some reason, you can’t think of a single thing you absolutely must do. You panic.
  4. You’ve just been fired from your job. You have enough money in the bank to last you for more than a year, yet you find yourself highly anxious and set about immediately finding a new post even though you may not have had a vacation in months.
  5. You have a pile of tasks in your in-basket. You pick one and start working on it, however you’re not happy because you’re not sure if this is the most important thing you should be doing right now.

And the physical symptoms accompanying a control addiction?

  • You wake up most mornings with a vague (or stronger) feeling of dread. When you try to find out what’s causing it, you can’t locate anything specific.
  • There’s a tightness in the chest, neck and throat area, and a narrowing of your focus of attention. For example, your husband is driving with you on the freeway. You’re coming up to the exit you’re to take and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down. What physical feelings and thoughts arise before you blurt out,”That’s our exit!!”
  • Your mind is always filled with chatter as to why something (or someone) is not right.

About 13 years ago I “woke up” and began my path to healing. However, the most significant strides forward came after reading “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. Here’s the quote from the book that transformed me: “The most important thing you can be doing is what you are doing right NOW.”


I realized I don’t have to concern myself with my career, my purpose, my list of to do’s. Nor do I have to be responsible for my husband’s career, purpose, or to do’s, either. All I have to do is to give my full attention to what I am doing right now.

As you get better at being present, the tightness and narrowing is replaces with a freedom and spaciousness. The dread turns into peace, and you relax as there is nothing else to do but what you are presently doing.


Why do I feel this affliction is largely a feminine one, at least in our culture? Because historically women were raised with the notion the man is the “head of the household.” This belief, no matter how true it may be in your own life, nonetheless is still indoctrinated into the minds of Western women as a powerful meme. Many a woman frequently finds herself in conflict with her dreams and her programmed upbringing. She may not even realize this is the source of her perpetual unhappiness.

I’m glad I added this practice of “presence” to my toolkit. It has kept me “on the wagon” and my great marriage has improved even more with continual use.

1 Response to “On the need for being in control”

  1. 1 Liara Covert June 30, 2008 at 5:57 am

    Control is certainly a topic that affects the lives of many people. Its insidious. It may creep up from within you when you least expect it. To raise your own awareness about your behaviour can daze and amaze you. It is very exhilarating to learn to laugh at yourself and the quirky things you do which are conditioned but unnecessary. To let go of what you don’t need transforms the soul.

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