Your Choice: Connection or Control?

Are you a controlling person?

Most of us would answer with a pretty confident ‘no’. However, the truth is we all have things we do for some measure of control.

For example, how much distance do we put between us and others? How do we respond with our words, actions or body language? Do we deflect back to the other person when confronted, use guilt trips, blame and finger pointing, etc?

Even people that are more blatantly controlling with their words or actions often have a goal of connection but fear drives them to seek security in control.

When security is found in being in control we use controlling language or behaviors for connection but it never has positive long-term results.

Where spirit of the lord is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17

Control is always a byproduct of fear. Controlling people sometimes seem like strong personalities, unafraid to be assertive or strong willed. But, what looks strong is just an aggressive attempt to alleviate fear down deep. Controlling people usually have painful experiences in the past where they experienced some form of loss or controlling environment in the place of real connection.

Freedom is attractive and true love only exists in the presence of true freedom.

When we set people free to choose or reject us, we give them the ability to choose love and connection instead of being forced into it. When people are being controlled through aggressive (anger, rage, abusive words, overly emotional behaviors and outbursts, violence, manipulation) or passive behaviors (silent treatments, guilt trips, blame, etc) their hearts will begin to move away from the relationship even if they are still physically present.

Sometimes control isn’t to try to get connection, it is used for self-protection. There are times healthy boundaries are put in place for the sake of allowing the relationship potential to grow in the future, but that isn’t what I’m referring to here. When we don’t choose to be vulnerable and communicate honestly about our hearts, we may use more passive behaviors for self-protection but that is still a form of control and leads to disconnection as well.

So, we have to choose what we value more and where our security will be. Connection or control?

Connection sometimes takes longer. We have to be vulnerable and invite people to connection and then give them the freedom to choose to move toward us on their own timeframe. Control wants to force connection before a heart is ready or before trust is established in the relationship.

Giving people freedom doesn’t mean be passive. Communicate, be vulnerable and tell people what you want or hope for and then leave it in their court to respond.

Control pursues short term results at the expense of long term trust and relationship.

Pursuing connection is risky because we relinquish control but it has much better long term results. By demonstrating that we want relationship and connection without strings attached, we prove we are trustworthy of something real and lasting.

So which do you want?

You can have connection or control. But, you can’t have both.

Let’s talk about it!

  1. Would you say that you are a controlling person? Why or why not?
  2. Would you say that you have ever used forms of control for self protection or to gain connection?
  3. If control is born out of fear, what would you say you are afraid of in the relationship experienced that?
  1. Have you tried being vulnerable instead passive or aggressive behaviors? Example: “I would like to spend some time with you this week and I feel like that’s not important to you.” Or, “when you spoke to me like that, it really hurt my feelings.”
  2. Would you be brave enough to ask a friend or spouse help you recognize any of those behaviors you may use for self protection or connection?
  3. Have you ever given someone an invitation to greater connection and then given them the freedom to move toward you or away from you? How did it go? Has someone ever invited you closer and given you freedom to move at your own pace? How did that go?
  4. Action step: Don’t fight alone! The biggest reason we use controlling behaviors is we are afraid. We are afraid because we don’t want to be alone or are doing life alone without anyone really knowing our hopes and fears. Find someone you can be really honest with and take the risk of sharing what you are afraid of that is causing you to choose control over connection.

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