Tag Archives: controlling

“If I don’t keep on top of everything, I don’t know what will happen.”

“Garden of Eden” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Being organized, dependable, and creative in planning for the future are wonderful qualities. They allow you to create beauty in the home, order in your finances, and enjoyment in your social life.

Control and order

Responsible people generally strive to achieve security, order, and harmony to prevent upheaval, chaos, and turmoil. When circumstances become stressful, however, the drive to sustain order can get out of control and actually add to the stress. Ironically, the attempt to take too much control of life sometimes results in excessive vigilance that leaves you feeling powerless and out of control.

Moreover, you may become preoccupied with your worries to the exclusion of appreciating your blessings. As a result, you end up feeling tense, angry, and tormented — even panicked, while others seem to be nonchalant. It doesn’t seem fair.

Effective Problem-Solving

Paradoxically, by focusing exclusively on what has gone wrong and what might go wrong in the future, you lose your objectivity and effectiveness. If you dwell too much on a problem, you may lose sight of the bigger picture and access to your intuition. You may get mired in the mud of hopelessness. You may also drive other people away with your anxious energy.

Brain research shows that the best way to resolve a problem is to focus on that over which you have control. Inform yourself of all the facts and seek good advice if necessary in order to consider the problem thoughtfully. Then engage in something other than thinking about the problem. Stepping away from the problem at this point will allow your intuition to inform your decision-making. It also allows you to maintain perspective, while being able to enjoy other aspects of life.


Taking the time to plan and organize fosters security and harmony in life. Too much planning and organizing, however, creates excessive tension that wipes out feelings of security and harmony. While you can hedge against some risks in the future, you cannot prevent all misfortunes and loss. Life is fleeting and mercurial. At some point you have to let go of trying to control against all misfortunes, and face the unknown with courage and acceptance.


Given the ephemeral quality of life, we need to balance planning for the future with being present in the moment. It may seem inappropriate and even absurd to think about enjoying life when faced with uncertainty, misfortune, and stress. Yet it is the present moment that we actually have the most control over, that is, we have control over our attitude and reactions to whatever is currently happening. Regardless of how beautiful and safe we try to make our world, we inevitably must accept what comes our way willingly and gracefully.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

How to handle a jealous partner & your own jealousy

Click on the picture below to watch the short video:

How to handle a jealous partner

When someone becomes driven by their jealousy, it’s quite annoying and unappealing. Yet, jealousy is a terrible emotion to experience. It causes a powerful fear of being abandoned or betrayed by someone you care about.

Occasional feelings of jealousy can be natural and sometimes are a response to bad past experiences. So when your partner is jealous, it’s best not to be defensive but to be kind and to assuage his or her fears.

If your partner is leering or flirting with others excessively, then you could mention something. Remember it’s important to speak from a place of reason and calm, not hostility and insecurity.

When someone is frequently or excessively jealous, and starts becoming controlling, it’s critical to set boundaries and stand your ground. You have to be clear that you are not willing to be controlled or submit to unreasonable demands.

If unwanted behavior continues after you’ve had a conversation about it together, it’s unlikely that you can change the other person. Possessive jealousy tends to destroy a relationship through hostility and control. So you may have to limit or even terminate the relationship before it gets out of control.

How to handle your own jealousy

If you are the person experiencing jealousy, understand that occasional feelings of jealousy can be natural and sometimes are a response to past abandonment or betrayal. However, it’s important to note that it’s natural and in fact healthy for men and women to notice and look at other attractive people, to engage in harmless mild flirting, and to have some friends of the opposite sex.

But it can be threatening to people who get jealous easily. When you feel threatened and respond by attacking your partner or friend, you look insecure, which is very unappealing and ineffective in sustaining a successful relationship. So develop the self-discipline to avoid acting on your jealousy. If you can respond with confidence, life will be more enjoyable, and your partner will find you much more attractive.

Frequent or severe jealousy shows insecurity and can wreck a relationship. So it is critical to gain self-control and maintain your self-confidence. You are much more attractive and appealing to be with when you don’t feel threatened by the presence of other attractive people and friendships. You are also much more effective in sustaining a healthy relationship when you stay calm and comfortable in your skin.

Sometimes jealousy is a signal to pay attention to what’s going on. Look at all the circumstances objectively. If your relationship is taking the backseat to new friendships, talk about to your partner rationally. Also consider whether you have been paying adequate attention to your relationship, and discuss your desire to spend time together in a positive way.

If your relationship is taking a backseat to another outside friendship, then it might be time to talk about what’s going on, which is much most effective when you avoid becoming accusatory or defensive.

If your relationship continues to take a backseat to an outside relationship or if there is lying or cheating going on, despite reasonable conversations and efforts, it may be time to move on. Anger and controlling behavior will not improve the situation.

Excessive jealousy destroys relationships. It leads to controlling and possessive behavior, which leads to a limited and miserable relationship. It can also lead to abuse and violence. If you experience frequent anger and jealousy, take control of your life by getting help or counseling.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Healthy Relationships and
Effective Communication


Read “Pursuing passions or partnership? ‘You should spend time with me instead of going fishing!’”

Read “Jealous Partner: ‘How can you be so jealous! You’re being ridiculous.’”

Read Sam Vaknin’s “Romantic Jealousy: ‘I can’t think of him/her with another man/woman.’”

“It’s always your way or the highway!”

"Angle of Approach" — Furyk by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Angle of Approach” — Furyk by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

So… what I REALLY meant was…

“Let’s agree to include both our opinions into the solution. Let’s start by finding our common ground.”

Sarcasm furthers hostility.

Giving in causes resentment.

You can frequently find a healthy compromise if you remain calm, respectful, and persistent.

Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

~John F. Kennedy

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “I end up arguing with him because he’s usually too busy working to talk.”

Read Positive Bonding Patterns:
“We never fight, but we don’t talk anymore and there’s no more passion.”

Watch “How to avoid becoming a doormat.”

“You left the place a horrible mess again!”

"Mr. Hole-in-One" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Mr. Hole-in-One” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire


So… what I REALLY meant was…

“I feel discouraged when I come home and see dirty dishes. It would make me happy to come home to a cleaner house. I would appreciate it if you would accommodate me.”

Criticism, complaints, and blame put people on the defensive. On the other hand, you can give the other person an opportunity to do something nice for you by phrasing your request diplomatically.

First of all, instead of attacking the other person, express how you feel given the simple facts, that is, “dirty dishes” instead of “horrible mess.” Then describe specifically what you would like him or her to do and how good it would make you feel. Most people enjoy making others happy. So express how appreciative you would be to come home to a clean house.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Communicating Effectively under Stress: ‘This is horrible!’”

Read “Living together Part I: Manners and Boundaries — ‘What’s the matter with you? Look at this mess you made!’”

Guest Author Sam Vaknin:
Tips: How to cope with financial abuse.

"The Raven" by Mimi Stuart ©Live the Life you Desire

“The Raven” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Q. Would narcissists often try to restrict their partner’s independence by reducing their access to shared family finances? Why?

A. Narcissists are control freaks, paranoid, jealous, possessive, and envious. They are the sad products of early childhood abandonment by parents, caregivers, role models, and/or peers. Hence their extreme abandonment anxiety and insecure attachment style. Fostering financial dependence in their nearest and dearest is just another way of making sure of their continued presence as sources of narcissistic supply (attention.) He who holds the purse strings holds the heart’s strings.

Reducing other people to begging and cajoling also buttresses the narcissist’s grandiose fantasy of omnipotence and provides him with a somewhat sadistic gratification.

Q. Would it also happen with female narcissists exercising control over men?

A. Yes. There is no major psychodynamic difference between male and female narcissists.

Q. What advice would you give to someone in a relationship with a narcissist? Should they try to keep their finances separate?

A. They should never allow themselves to be irrevocably separated from their family of origin and close friends. They should maintain their support network and refuse to become a part of the narcissist’s cult-like shared psychosis. They should make sure that they have independent sources of wealth (a trust fund; real estate; bank accounts; deposits; securities) and sustainable sources of income (a job; rental income; interest and dividends; royalties). Above all: they should not share with their narcissistic intimate partner the full, unmitigated details of their life and critical bits of information such as banking passwords and safe box access codes.

Q. I understand that narcissists will sometimes sacrifice their finances and get into big trouble financially (even going bankrupt) in order to satisfy other narcissistic desires – so I presume this means that narcissists are also people whose finances can be instable?

A. It is not as simple as that. The classic narcissist maintains an island of stability in his life (e.g.: his job, business, and finances) while the other dimensions of his existence (e.g., interpersonal relations) wallow in chaos and unpredictability. The narcissist may marry, divorce, and remarry with dizzying speed. Everything in his life may be in constant flux: friends, emotions, judgements, values, beliefs, place of residence, affiliations, hobbies. Everything, that is, except his work.

His career is the island of compensating stability in his otherwise mercurial existence. This kind of narcissist is dogged by unmitigated ambition and devotion. He perseveres in one workplace or one job, patiently, persistently and blindly climbing up the corporate ladder and treading the career path. In his pursuit of job fulfilment and achievements, the narcissist is ruthless and unscrupulous ˆ and, very often, successful.

The borderline narcissist reacts to instability in one area of his life by introducing chaos into all the others. Thus, if such a narcissist resigns (or, more likely, is made redundant) ˆ he also relocates to another city or country. If he divorces, he is also likely to resign his job.

This added instability gives this type of narcissist the feeling that all the dimensions of his life are changing simultaneously, that he is being “unshackled”, that a transformation is in progress. This, of course, is an illusion. Those who know the narcissist, no longer trust his frequent “conversions”, “decisions”, “crises”, “transformations”, “developments” and “periods”. They see through his pretensions, protestations, and solemn declarations into the core of his instability. They know that he is not to be relied upon. They know that with narcissists, temporariness is the only permanence.

Narcissists hate routine. When a narcissist finds himself doing the same things over and over again, he gets depressed. He oversleeps, over-eats, over-drinks and, in general, engages in addictive, impulsive, reckless, and compulsive behaviours. This is his way of re-introducing risk and excitement into what he (emotionally) perceives to be a barren life.

The problem is that even the most exciting and varied existence becomes routine after a while. Living in the same country or apartment, meeting the same people, doing essentially the same things (even with changing content) ˆ all “qualify”, in the eyes of the narcissist, as stultifying rote.

The narcissist feels entitled. He feels it is his right, due to his intellectual or physical superiority, to lead a thrilling, rewarding, kaleidoscopic life. He wants to force life itself, or at least people around him, to yield to his wishes and needs, supreme among them the need for stimulating variety.

by Sam Vaknin, Author of the comprehensive book on narcissism “Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited.”

Read Codependence by GUEST AUTHOR SAM VAKNIN:”Issues and Goals in the Treatment of Dependent Personality Disorder.”

Read Alison Poulsen’s Marrying into Money:
“He used to take care of me, and now he treats me like a child.”

Read Guest Author SAM VAKNIN’s
“He Abuses Me in So Many Ways. How do I Cope?”

“I’m not going to visit my sister because my husband will get mad.”

"Bounteous" by Mimi Stuart©  Live the Life you Desire

“Bounteous” by Mimi Stuart©
Live the Life you Desire

Fear of being alone

Underlying most controlling behavior is a fear of being left alone, physically or emotionally. A person’s reactivity and possessiveness is often driven by anxiety and fear of abandonment.

The problem is that we can never be fully united in thought and feeling with another person. In fact, the more we try to possess another person or allow ourselves to be controlled, the more we squeeze the magic out of the relationship.

Once we genuinely accept our existential separation from others, we can enjoy the connection we have more fully, however fleeting it may be. Then we can be truly loving without becoming controlling and possessive.

Responding to a controlling person

If you are in a relationship with a controlling partner who is trying to coerce you into not doing something you want to do, such as visiting your sister, you can choose to respond in the following ways:

Accommodate—You don’t go visit your sister, but you will feel disappointed, angry, disempowered, and resentful for not going.

Rebel—You vehemently declare that you’re going anyway, but your partner will try to punish you with his anger.

Differentiate—You are considerate while maintaining your self-respect. You tell him you’ll miss him and you’re sorry he’ll be lonely, but it’s really important for you to spend some time with your sister. Or, you could that say you’d really like to see your sister, but that he is welcome to join you if he can get away. If your partner continues to be angry about your decision, you can show compassion to a point, but you should not allow yourself to be manipulated by his fear or anger. Stand firm albeit with compassion, but without becoming defensive.

Intimacy requires freedom

It sounds paradoxical that intimacy and passion can deepen as we accept our separateness and stop controlling others or allowing ourselves to be controlled. Yet a relationship based on respect requires letting go of fear and control. By breaking away from control and possessiveness, we can allow a little unpredictability and excitement back into the relationship.

Passion is based on the feeling of being alive, alert and excited in the midst of the unknown. By respecting another person’s autonomy and embracing the associated anxiety, we can enhance excitement, desire, and passion in our relationship with that person.

As we face and accept our own existential separateness, our tolerance for being alone increases. In addition, our disappointment in others diminishes, because we relinquish unrealistic expectations that our partners will save us from ourselves.

Read “‘My parent was controlling.’ How we develop Defense Mechanisms (Part I)”

Watch “How to Deal with Controlling People.”

Read “I’ve texted you five times in the last hour! Where have you been?”