Control is the need to get people to do what you want them to do so you don't feel so anxious. Control can take on many forms. Some control boldly: "You're a wimp who doesn't know how to stand up to anyone. Tell your boss you're not working on Saturday or I'm leaving." Some women control by incessantly complaining and constantly trying to tweak what the other person is doing: "Would you PLEASE put the lid on the pan when you're cooking and would you load the dishwasher the way I've asked you to?!" Some women control through manipulation: "Do you really think going out again tonight is the best choice? If you stay in maybe we could make love." Regardless of whether you yell, beg, manipulate or demand, the bottom line's still control.

The problem with controlling others is it's an illusion. There is no way you can control another person. Ultimately, other people get the final say in what they choose to do or not do. Your need to control others is a total waste of time. Controlling others is also incredibly dysfunctional.

Answer the questions below honestly to see if you struggle with control:

1. Do you demand that your partner put the kids to bed your way, at the time you specify, with little to no exceptions?

2. Do you tell your partner, children or friends how to dress?

3. Do the people in your house need to load the dishwasher, clean the floors or wash the counter tops a certain way?

4. Do you not trust the father of your children to be alone with them unless you're there to manage how he cares for them?

5. Do you beg your partner to talk to you and when he does, you tell him it wasn't deep enough or what he was really feeling or _______(fill in the blank)?

6. Do you tell your children how to dress, what to do and how to think?

7. Do you do everything yourself at work because it's just easier?

8. Do you micro-manage your employees because they always make mistakes?

People who struggle with control often deny they're controlling. They simply believe they're right. They may take a healthy concept like kids-need-to-go-to-bed-at-a-certain-hour-because-they-need-their-sleep, but rigidly apply it. Kids-need-their-sleep becomes kids-can-never-go-off-their-schedules. When others try to challenge the rigidity, there's no way to win. Changing the routine is just too anxiety-provoking for you and not worth the fight for them.

The need to control how things are done because you know your way is the "right" way will rot away your relationships. The truth is no one likes to be controlled. Eventually the people in your life will grow tired of your endless reprimands, requests and demands. They will gradually grow to be more and more resentful of your need to control and you will likely lose them. The more intense your grasp, the more people want to get out from under your clutches. This reaction is true for children, partners and employees.

When it comes to control: check your grip. Learn to relax your grip for your sake as well as those around you. This shift will open up your world in ways you never imagined. No longer needing to control the world will allow you to enjoy it.

CHALLENGE: If the people in your life complain that you're too controlling, do yourself a favor -- stop and listen. Get curious, ask how and use their answers as a guide for you to stop. Learning to let go will be a struggle at first...and it will get easier. Dare to listen and start letting go.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Merlo-Booth is a relationship coach with over 15 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. She has worked with individuals, families and couples on a variety of life issues.

She earned her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Pepperdine University in 1991 and has received her coaching training from Coach University. Lisa is the Director of Training for the Relational Life Institute owned by the renowned author, Terrence Real.

Check out Lisa's blog on relationships at