Controlling people are very keen on telling others who they are, what they are, what they are thinking and the motivation behind their actions. They will deliver their “insights” with such “authority” that you will feel that you have to defend yourself. No one has the “right” to define someone else, most people do not know themselves very well never mind somebody else. It is a complete and absolute violation of boundaries and one of the narcissists favourite means of control. The narcissist will believe their own fantasy world and think that what they are saying/doing is actually right or constructive. They will justify their actions by saying/thinking “well someone had to tell him/her, I was the only one who had the courage to do it!”
Control is a really destructive problem in any relationship whether it is romantic, friendship, professional or familial. When people try to control others they are attempting to define that person according to what they want/need them to be. They cannot see that the other person exists and a sentient being that exists in their own right, they don’t respect you for who you are and it can be done in many ways such as:
- Negative comments couched in false concern or “helpful advice”.
- Gaslighting, denying your reality and projecting their own made up one.
- Complete disregard for your feeling.
- Constant lying about even the most frivolous things
- Inventing “stories” about negative things that other people said about you.
- Trying to prevent you from expressing yourself and negating everything your say.
- Cruel “jokes” that are designed to hurt.
- Adapting a really condescending and contemptuous attitude towards you.
- Making examples of other to demonstrate what could happen to you if you do not submit to their coercion.
- Going on a smear campaign behind your back if they feel like they are losing control, so that they damage your reputation before they are exposed.
The problem with recognizing controlling people is that a lot of their control is very subtle and we tend to see their comments as bad taste, we think that we must have missed something when they lie (because they are absolute masters at inventing lies on the spot) or accuse ourselves of being paranoid when people’s behaviour changes as a result of a smear campaign.
Controlling people will always play the victim if they are pulled up on their behaviour. They will say things like “I was only trying to be helpful, you are so ungrateful” or “you always misunderstand what other people are saying” (universal miscomprehension – how could they possibly know this?) or “do you always have to be so negative, you are not always right you know”.
When a person has good intentions (in general) it is hard to imagine the motivation behind a controllers behaviour because the big question is “why would anyone want to do that?”, the best “reason” that I have come across is because they are essentially very weak personalities and they think that if anyone else shines that they will disappear completely. Everything that happens around them they relate back to themselves, so for example a child could get sick at a time when a narcissistic parent wanted to go on a weekend break and the narcissist will think that the child did it on purpose to ruin their holiday, a puppy could chew up their favourite pair of shoes and the narcissist will think that the puppy “knew they were my favourite (and did it on purpose)).
It is possible to break free from the spell binding dominance of a controller and this is done by standing back and taking a long hard look at their actions, not their words. The disparity between their actions and words is also a controlling tactic. When you see the pattern, there is absolutely no point in addressing it with them because they will deny everything and project their bad behaviour back on to you. What needs to be done is to move out of their presence as much as possible, create relationships with other people who will support your reality and to learn (or relearn) to trust yourself and your intuition/gut feelings again.