Control Your Freak

As winter approaches, heed these words of driving advice: if your car goes into a skid, turn the steering wheel into the direction of the skid. I think it was Bill Cosby who said something like, “Turning your car into a skid makes about as much sense as throwing your face into a right hook!”

Knowing the textbook right-thing-to-do doesn’t make doing it easy, automatic, or intuitive.

What does it mean to control your freak? It means to resist the urge to give into the baser parts of your nature when you’re confronted with unpleasantness, change, or circumstances beyond your control.

What happens when you feel like you’re losing control? If you’re normal, when you lose control of something that matters to you, you try to hyper-control other aspects of your life that you are still able to control.

  • Your company is restructuring, and you don’t know where (or if) you’ll fit in the new org chart. While feeling out of control about your immediate job security, you begin micromanaging the work of your employees. Why? You can’t control the destiny of your job, but by-jingo you CAN CONTROL YOUR PEOPLE!
  • Your spouse has become increasingly distant and spends more time away from home. Even though you can’t afford a spouse-cam, you start calling his/her cell phone more often and sending messages with an urgent tone. Why? You can’t control every aspect of your relationship, but you can do your best to make your partner ACCOUNT FOR EVERY MOMENT OF HIS/HER TIME!
  • You experience frequent criticism and judgment from your parents, and you feel they try to control every aspect of your life. To reassert some level of control, you comply to nearly every demand and judgment they put on you…but you begin to starve yourself, walking down the road to a full-blown eating disorder. Why? You don’t have the confidence to hold a high opinion of yourself, but you can SHOW THEM THAT THEY DON’T OWN YOU!

Nature seems to program our minds and bodies to seek equilibrium when we sense a loss of control. A child who feels abandoned by a parent figure may choose to find a replacement relationship in the wrong place. A person who is starting a strict diet may feel the increased need to smoke, drink or engage in other destructive behaviors. A person who quits smoking may make Twinkies his new best friend. Someone who has experienced a profound loss (like that of a loved one) may cling more tightly to every other important relationship in life…to the point of suffocating those who are held too tightly.

How do you control your freak? Be aware that you have one. Increase your sensitivity that others around you may have a freak, too. And be aware if you have a tendency to overcompensate in other, less-acceptable ways when you start to lose control. A drowning man in panic may take his rescuer down to the bottom of the sea with him.

If you have a freak, acknowledge it. If your freak leads to destructive behaviors, confront those behaviors. Align you actions with what you hope to accomplish. Tell those close to you what you are feeling and experiencing. Hopefully, they will help you or cut you some slack. In the best cases, they will hold you accountable to do the right thing, even if the right thing is the hardest thing you can imagine doing.

Turn your car into the direction of the skid. It’s not easy, nor intuitive. However, it’s the “right” answer to gain control of the skid. Face your freak head on. Don’t give it the power to control you.

What freak do you struggle to control? What have you found that works for you?

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