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You Just Might Be A Control Freak (In Recovery)

Ever wondered if you're too controlling? Here are (some of) the signs.

Wellness

Confess and be healed. Indeed. My confession for the day is that I used to be somewhat of a control freak. As with most things in life, there are layers of reasons why.

Many of my relatives are/were control freaks. I also suffered abuse which can make you fearful and fear can turn into control because you never want to feel like someone else is violating you again. I also have a pretty strong personality, complete with very strong perspectives and opinions; when those are not balanced by temperance and respect for others' views, that can also come across as being controlling. I used to not be the most patient person on the planet; impatient people can also come off as being pretty controlling individuals. And, according to my mom, after the standard "dada" and "mama", my next words were a full-on sentence—"I do myself, Mommy." So yeah, there's that. Plus, I can relate to a lot of what Janet Jackson was talking about in her song "Control".

When you feel like everyone is trying to run your life, in order to feel empowered, sometimes you can become consumed by that; that too can make you pretty controlling.

The reason why I'm sharing all of this is because we don't come out of the womb being super-controlling folks. Life happens and it turns us that way. That's the bad news. The good news is, if you happen to be a control freak yourself, just like you've been using all of your energy to try and run everybody and everything, you've got the power to redirect it so that you can control the only thing that you should be controlling—yourself.

How do you know if you are someone who is more controlling than you probably give yourself "credit" for? It's a lot easier to spot the signs than you probably think, sis. And, if you do recognize that you fall into some of these habits, I've included a recovery tip for each of 'em. There's no time like the present to break free!

You’re Always Right. Everyone Else Is Usually Wrong.

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There are three things that I think social media has created more of—trolls, narcissists and control freaks. On the control freak tip, it's like so long as you're agreeing with someone, it's all good. Oh, but the moment that you have an opinion that is contrary to theirs, suddenly it's time for you to be berated, denounced and canceled.

There's not enough time or space today to get into the fact that if you can't handle an opposing view without going on the attack, it tends to come off as a form of insecurity more than anything else. But what I will say is it is its own form of being a "mean girl" and extremely controlling if you somehow believe that you are the one who is always right and everyone else is always wrong. For one thing, that perspective is steeped in a profound level of delusional thinking. Secondly, not everything on the planet garners a right or wrong. Some things are just…different. And all of us are just that—different.

Recovery tip: Learn how to listen. Accept that not everyone is going to agree with you and that's fine. Oh, and if you're a pop-off on social media, take a fast from time to time. Sometimes it's better to grow than to be right. Hearing others out will help you to do that.

Everyone Should Respect Your Boundaries. Meanwhile, You Can Railroad Theirs.

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Is it just me or are some of the nosiest people on the planet also the most private? It's like they have no problem asking you anything and everything about your life, but the moment you inquire about theirs, on any level, suddenly they are cryptic and vague (if not flat-out annoyed). This is one example of what it means to deal with someone who wants their boundaries respected, even though they choose to totally disrespect yours.

Boundaries are limits. Control freaks couldn't care less about them because any limit that stands in the way of them saying or doing what they want is one that they will totally ignore.

It's basically like they have a sense of arrogance and entitlement simultaneously. They also tend to be pushy and overbearing. An example of this would be our current president. If that visual doesn't make you want to do some quick reassessing, I honestly don't know what will.

Recovery tip: One of my favorite quotes is something a writer by the name of Anne Lamott once said—"'No' is a complete sentence." If someone tells you "no", respect that (this includes respecting that any explanation they give you beyond the "no" is privileged information; you are not owed it). Also, if you have been railroading people for so long that you don't even know what a boundary is, cop two boundaries books by two of my favorite authors, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. The first read is Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. The second one is Safe People: How to Find Relationships that are Good for You and Avoid Those That Aren't. They both are total game-changers for you, and those who have been putting up with you all this time (just sayin').

You Are a Perfectionist. (Even Though No One Is Perfect.)

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Signs of a perfectionist include the following—freaking out over making a mistake, being extremely critical of other people, setting unrealistic standards, having an "all or nothing" mentality about everything under the sun and being uber defensive (and that's just for starters!).

While it's OK to want to do things well, the problem with having a perfectionist mentality is you tend to leave no room for error with yourself or those around you. The problem with that is it's basically a form of self-sabotage because the reality is that you and others are going to make mistakes, you and others are going to disappoint one another on occasion, and you and others are worthy of mercy and forgiveness because of that.

Non-control freaks are fully aware of this, which is why their life tends to be a lot more peaceful and drama-free. Control freaks think that everything I just said is totally ridiculous. And that is why they are miserable (and oftentimes lonely) a lot of the time.

Recovery tip: When you or someone else makes a mistake, take a moment to assess if it's an honest misstep or a toxic pattern. Choose to forgive either way and then make decisions from that space. You'll be calmer, so you'll be able to better trust how you choose to handle the matter.

You Tend to Micromanage EVERYTHING

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Is there anything worse than a micromanager? Personally, I can't think of too many things. Micromanagers are the kind of people who let you think that they trust you, but they really don't, because they've got to stand over you—whether literally or symbolically—until a task is done.

It's kind of easy to detect how a micromanaging employer acts, but if you're wondering if you have this issue in other relationships, a helicopter spouse definitely comes to mind. These kinds of people are overprotective (to the point of being possessive). They are constantly delegating and being hypercritical. They think it's their job to double-check every little thing that their partner does from cleaning the bathroom to paying a bill. In short, they act more like they are their spouse's parent than their partner (for the record, helicopter parenting isn't much better either).

Although micromanagers are pretty annoying, the root cause of their issue is typically tied to fear. Either they were raised by a micromanager who used fear in their disciplinary tactics, or they have taught themselves to believe that if they are not hovering over everything, it won't be done right or, at all. What a terribly stressed out way to live—for them and everyone around them.

Recovery tip: Work on developing trust with others. If you trust them enough to be in a relationship with them, trust that they want everything to go well and smoothly too. Also, it's time to implement some mutual respect. If you don't want anyone "helicoptering" over you, don't do it to them. It's annoying. Very.

You Don’t Know How to Relax. Neither Do Others Whenever They’re Around You.

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I've got a male friend who alerts me to when the control freak monster in me is trying to rear its ugly head. When I'm about to go on some sort of tangent, he simply says, "Relax." Relax indeed. When someone is relaxed, they are calm and chill. Everything is not so rigid and tense. Their temperament tends to be pretty mild and they are flexible with things. They can compromise. They can listen. Their stress and anxiety levels are lower. They exude ease, composure and tranquility. Relaxed individuals are truly a breath of fresh air.

Control freaks are the opposite of all of this. This is a part of the reason why they might be a bit self-conscious about whether or not folks want or like to be around them. The answer is simple. If you could choose to be tense and anxious or relaxed all of the time, what space would you choose? Right and exactly.

Recovery tip: Be intentional about self-care. A lot of control freaks are like that because their minds are constantly spinning and that's because they don't implement self-care or rest. When your body is in a state of zen, it's easier for the rest of you to follow suit.

You’ve Been Told That You Are. More Than Once (or 10 Times) Before.

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Remember how I said at the top of this that I was "somewhat" of a control freak? Here's another confession—the more that I've been releasing my controlling tendencies, the more I realize that being "kinda controlling" is like being kinda pregnant. Either you is or you ain't. And believe you me, controlling people are so irritating, so draining, so suffocating that no matter how much others may love them, eventually someone will rise up and say, "You are really getting on my nerves. Something has got to give."

I know more and more that we seem to live in an era of "I don't care what anyone thinks" and all (SMH), but wisdom will teach you that accountability is a lifesaver. You know what they say—if one person tells you that you're controlling, that may be a random perspective. If five or more do…yeah…exactly.

Recovery tip: Ask your true friends if you've got any controlling tendencies from their perspective. If they start off their reply with "Well, umm, see…", don't get defensive, hear them out. People who truly love you, they want what's best for you. And as a control-freak-in-recovery, there is nothing good, right or beneficial that comes from trying to run—sometimes over—any and everything all of the time. So, release some of that control and…don't.

Featured image by Unsplash.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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