Tonawanda News

July 15, 2013

NATURAL HEALTH: Total control in life is an illusion

By Catherine Stack
The Tonawanda News

— Sometimes I feel there is a fine line between being in control of your life and being a “control freak,” and I teeter that line more than I’d like to admit.  For the most part, I’m happy to say that I’m not a control freak, no matter what my husband might say! 

People having a balanced sense of control of their life definitely understand that the universe can and will throw curve balls at the most inopportune time. They may not like it, but they will adjust to whatever the circumstances and continue to move on. The control freak is likely to have a melt-down, need years of therapy, maybe even medications for anxiety and depression. Many have a martyr-like disposition.

Now, it is only natural to want be in control of your own life, but when you feel you have to have control of everyone else’s life as well, you have a problem. These are the key aspects of a “control freak.” They have a driving need to create your agenda, they insist on controlling all their interactions with you, basically, they have to run the show and call the shots — or else.

It has been found that the main need to control is driven by anxiety, though a control freak would never recognize this. Even if they did, they would deny it. At work, they worry about failure. In their relationships, they dread they will not have their needs met, or that they will not be good enough. 

In order to keep this anxiety from overwhelming them, they feel the only way to avoid feeling those emotions is to control the people or things around them. They have a harder time than most normal people when it comes to negotiation or compromise, because it would mean they would have to give up some of their control, and it would also imply that they are not perfect, and control freaks hate imperfection. If by now you can’t tell or don’t already know, this can make life difficult, whether you are working with them, living with them, or just plain stuck in a circle involved with them.

The reason most of us don’t like control freaks is because they always give us the impression that we’re incompetent, or cannot be trusted. I’m not saying they don’t act out of love or your best interest; they often do, but the anxiety and fear of a potential out-of-control situation can be toxic to any environment where they are involved.

We all come to this life with gifts on board for a reason, a lesson and even a purpose. It is difficult to believe that anyone’s purpose is to control someone else. 

For a time, raising children is all-consuming and rewarding — but it doesn’t last forever and isn’t supposed to. Marriage and relationships, partnerships of respect, should not be controlling, but provide a venue for mutual growth.  

If you truly love someone, then wouldn’t you love to watch them evolve into their full potential? The control freak would probably want to dictate what that potential should be. Many try to control their loved ones for fear of losing them. People tire of being controlled and such relationships suffer and potentially end. Being controlled often leads to someone “flying the coop.” They feel they are suffocating and human instinct will lead to “fight or flight.” 

Rest assured, the controlled party does finally leave. The more you try to control or resist change, the more you are doomed to the reality that change is the one guarantee in life. Stress and potential illness may occur within the body of those who try to control that which they ultimately cannot.

Having total control of anything in life is an illusion. In any given moment things can change — and that’s just the way it is. Living with a go-with-the-flow attitude, will unfold the benefits of stress-free living. The weight that will be lifted from your shoulders will add years to your life. People will enjoy your company rather than avoid you. Life becomes easier and you begin to enjoy the “priceless” moments that you would normally miss attempting to be in control.

Catherine Stack is a doctor of naturopathy and a certified nurse midwife. Her practice is located at Journey II Health in Niagara Falls. She can be reached at 298-8603 or at her website at