Depending on what is at the root of a controlling personality, a person may be able to change.
What’s at the root of a controlling personality? If a person displays domineering personality traits, can this be something that they work on and overcome to get along better with others and become more honest in how they relate?
Are you dealing with someone who has controlling tendencies?
Do they keep you on edge with their unpredictable behavior? Does the controlling person always seem to rip the rug out from under you just when you’re having a good old time doing what you want to do?
Dealing with controlling people isn’t easy. Many people wonder if they can change at all. All over the world, you have people who have married into controlling families and are now dealing with the aftermath – a controlling partner born of that family. People who were raised by controlling parents grapple with their own issues in relationships as adults.
Why are people controlling?
What can be done about it if anything?
“Controlling” behavior, like any label, falls somewhere on a spectrum of intensity. Some people might be controlling if it’s their nature to try and tell others what to do. Yet, they would never physically hurt another human, and do a little more than aggravate and annoy others on their worst days.
Is there a positive side?
Of course. On their best days, maybe someone who is occasionally controlling might lead their social group to accomplish amazing things!
Other controlling types take things to the next level. They may go as far as to frighten and intimidate those closest to them and escalate it to emotional abuse. The worst types of controlling people display physical abuse. So as you can see, there are varying degrees of how controlling a person is likely to be.
Some people are only controlling every other week. Some people start out to be a little bit controlling but their ego takes over and they become “a lot controlling,” because they’re with someone who fills the role of a pleaser. This dynamic feeds their need to dominate and manipulate.
It all depends on who you’re dealing with and their unique situation and characteristics.
So let’s get back to the question of what causes controlling people to speak, act and behave as they do. It likely starts in early childhood. The relationship dynamic is set early on by parents and caregivers as well as within the social environment that may be present with siblings and peers.
Someone who is controlling might have become that way because this is the behavior that was exemplified by them. Maybe one parent always had to win every argument and call the shots for everyone else. The controlling person made others feel like they had no say in what happened. Maybe the controlling person diminished others in the group. Growing up, some children might react to such treatment by receding into their social background. Their self-esteem diminished as a result of being led by a more controlling force of personality.
But maybe other people in the family took their cue from the controlling parent’s actions and words. They may have learned that the way to rise to the top of any social group is by being more assertive, louder, taking up more space physically, speaking first, mowing over other people’s ideas and opinions, and having a me-first attitude in general. They may have also learned that they can get other people to do what they want through a variety of manipulative behaviors.
And so the torch is passed from the controlling parent to a controlling child who dominates his peers. And then one day that controlling child grows up and marries a partner whom he or she also finds that he is able to manipulate. And the cycle continues.
Some people may have learned to be controlling because a message was sent to them that if they don’t stand up for themselves they will be stepped on and taken advantage of. Not everyone grew up in a nurturing environment. Think of a large family and the social dynamics that may have occurred between siblings. There may have been fighting over who goes first, who speaks on behalf of the group, who gets the biggest slice of cake, and other opportunities to establish a pecking order.
The child who grew up being pushed around may have had to learn the hard way… and as an adult, he or she has now bloomed into a forceful individual. The psychology inside such a person may tell them that it is a dog-eat-dog world and that they had best establish themselves in an alpha role. This is how controlling personalities manifest. Another way a person may grow up to become controlling and learn to pull the strings of others is If the parents gave them control early on. A toddler-aged child who is taught that pushing the envelope gives you the upper hand may learn that pushing their way into any situation comes with its share of advantages, mainly getting your way with others. This is how persistence manifests, and yes it can easily become controlling behavior.