Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself- it tends only to evildoing. Psalm 37:8
Have you ever known someone who suffered from a little infirmity I like to call, “controllitis”? Yeah, you know the type: pushy, direct, and always ready with some ‘good advice’. After all, who doesn’t want to be in control? It’s the basic heart cry of most human beings, regardless of gender or age. Even kids are controlling; have you ever watched a group of kids get together? Inevitably, there will be a power struggle over what game they will play, or who gets which toy. It’s human nature; we want what we want, and we want YOU to want what we want. We also want you to think like we think. Those of us who suffer from controllitis love to share our good advice – you should take it and be thankful for it; after all, we only want what is best for you! We honestly believe that if everyone just took our advice, the world would be a better place.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have caught myself thinking like this. I know at least a dozen other people in my life who would fit this description; it’s a common ailment. Maybe even you suffer from controllitis. If we are really honest with ourselves, we probably all struggle with control in one way or another. Fortunately, control isn’t always bad. We need to have some control over our children’s behavior, or over the chaos of our family and household. We should have self-control over our bodies, our thoughts, and our words. We need to control certain emotions or reactions. There are a lot of good reasons to use control on ourselves, but there is also the tendency to become the dreaded ‘control freak.’
There are many ways that we use control. It’s good to identify the unhealthy ways that we try to control others, or ways that others might control us, so we can stop the cycle of control. We can’t stop a behavior if we don’t recognize it; and we can’t create healthy boundaries with others if we don’t realize how and why they are controlling us.
We don’t always realize how many ways we impact those closest to us. We each set the tone in our own homes. After time, our spouses and children learn to ‘read’ our moods in order to appease us. There is even a certain look that means *warning, warning* to everyone around us. We can use intimidation and anger to get what we want, often without even thinking about it. We have probably all encountered a person known for intimidating others; perhaps a parent, or a spouse with an anger issue. This controlling behavior causes you to react differently around them. If you have accidentally set off their anger in the past, you don’t want it to happen again; so you do everything you can to please them.
We can do this to others as well, especially our family. If we react out of anger by getting out of control every time they do something we don’t like, we create in them an unhealthy fear of us. We re-train them to respond to our anger with forced obedience in order to ‘defuse’ us. No one should feel forced to make you happy all of the time. When that’s what they think they should be doing, their consistent ‘failure’ to make you happy creates in them a feeling that nothing they do will ever be good enough.
James 1:20 says that ‘Man’s anger does not promote the righteousness of God.’ Our anger doesn’t allow righteousness in us, and controls others, rather than allowing true obedience.
It is an imbalanced marriage if one spouse is muzzled by the other.
Do you recognize symptoms of “controllitis” in your life?
Do you recognize it in your spouse or someone else close to you?
What does God say about us trying to control?
by Lili Morris