Here’s a news flash: You do not have to live anyone else’s life. Only yours. And if you are trying to live through someone else, you will bring more stress and anxiety into your being and make that relationship toxic.
That’s what you need to remind yourself when you feel the need to tell others how to live their life, which I hate to break it to you, is actually controlling behavior.
All of us know someone in our lives that exhibit controlling behavior. It can be frustrating and a never-ending emotional tug-of-war. I am a survivor of it myself. First with a practice husband (ex) nearly thirty years ago, and recently with a close family member. And when you finally stand up and say no more, that person becomes unhinged and sets out to try to “destroy” you (yes, those were the words used on the latest episode) and they start untrue rumors and stories to make your life miserable, or at least try to. They make unfounded accusations. It can be a scary journey when dealing with someone like that, especially when it’s obvious how unhinged they are. In both of my cases, I had to take legal action and severe the relationships, which also brings about more trauma and emotional distress. Then you have to do your best not to react. Not to defend yourself. Not to engage. That’s what they want. What they crave and what they live for. Don’t give it to them. Let your words, actions, and behavior with the world speak for itself.
But what if you are doing it to someone else?
First, you need to recognize and admit it. Sometimes controlling behavior is triggered when someone isn’t acting or doing what we think is best for their lives. I’ve been guilty myself of it when it comes to my daughters and them making bad decisions that can affect them forever. It has taken me until now (they are 26 & 31) to realize that the best thing I can do is tell them directly about what I think the problem is, and what the consequences ‘could be’, then let go and let them decide how to live their own lives. (obviously when they are still kids you have to be stronger than that, but I’m talking about my adults girls) I know that based on my own past traumatic experiences, I’m acting out of fear for their wellbeing. I’m projecting my past onto their present. And that’s not fair. I’ve lived my own life and made my own bad decisions, it’s time for them to live theirs and then accept what it brings, good or bad.
As their mother, I can tell them my fears and what sort of consequences could happen, then step back and let them take it from there.
We have to let people be who they are, whether we respect the outcome or not. They cannot be who you ‘think’ they are, or who you think they should be. And you know what, people change! Maybe they aren’t who they used to be, but that’s because as humans, we evolve. We grow and gain wisdom, or we fail and fall, then have to get back up. Sometimes we have to go through the dirt to get there.
But YOU only control YOUR life. Trying to control more than that will only bring you stress and anxiety, and maybe even depression.
The next time you feel the need to try to control the life of another adult, take a breath and just let it unfold without your guidance. Without judgement. See how that feels. One thing for sure is that when it’s all said and done, you will feel like you were respectful of another’s choices.
Let go of the need to control, even if their behavior makes you uncomfortable.
You might realize that your life is a whole lot easier if you focus on your own life more than someone else’s.
Lastly, if you have experienced toxic and controlling behavior from someone, please seek counseling before it ruins your life.
(and it’s great to be a novelist because that’s great fodder for character development! Check out some of my books to see how I’ve used it in my stories.)
…and that’s your #KayTalk for today.