I met a woman for the first time over the weekend and we got to discussing dynamics in relationships. As a highly driven, type A personality, with a lot of goals (which admittedly tend to be scattered), I have a tendency to lean toward controlling behaviors. I have enough self-awareness to know this so I don’t take offense to it—if you have dreams you need to actually execute in order for them to come true so I can let most of the negative insinuation about my personality roll off. And to be clear, even when I have a goal, I’m not talking about controlling every single detail, honestly. But you can’t sit there and wish and wish for something and expect it to happen without some sort of action—that isn’t aligned with the energy. You can’t win the lotto without buying a ticket. You won’t learn French without picking up a book or some audios or an app. You get the point. In my mind, the control was to focus on the action to achieve the outcome, not about controlling other people. We all want to at times, myself included, but if I don’t get what is needed from someone, I do it myself, I don’t force them to do it my way.
What I never took into account about this interpretation of my behavior is that people could see me controlling some things and automatically apply that to every facet of my life. First of all, how ignorant of me that I would assume everyone would know exactly what I meant at all times and they would see me for who I am. It’s not lost on me that assuming people know everything about me is both controlling and a bit egotistical—sorry about that, I’m human. Secondly, I shift and pivot depending on the environment I’m in. It’s a habit I developed as a people-pleaser so I am able to chameleon in most situations and be what is “needed”. I assumed at the very least that people would see my different behaviors depending on the activity and recognize that I have all these pieces to me just like everyone else. Third, I’m actually really sensitive so the fact people apparently DON’T see that in me really hurt. I’m such an open book and I think I do that in order to avoid any misinterpretation of my behavior—which I guess can be controlling as well. I’m not sure—trauma/control or control as a response to trauma….I don’t know. Fourth, I guess I gave people too much credit to observe what’s happening around them. I assumed they would, and maybe I assumed they would feel like me.
Now, the interesting point of this conversation came when we started discussing the relationships closest to me. I expressed I was feeling like I have been trampled and that boundaries are crossed and that there were some frustrations I had thinking I was working toward a goal with someone and we clearly weren’t. She pointed out that there is always the possibility people are no longer interested in the same thing. Not revelatory, but it was a nice reminder nonetheless. She then proceeded to talk about it being ok to have absolutes. There are certain non-negotiable things we can demand in our relationships (and it’s ok for the other person to do the same) where we need to get those things to feel safe and respected and to have our boundaries honored. So, the mind-fuck for me was this: Here I have been asking how high when told to jump thinking people would return the favor and then getting pissed when they didn’t. I see now that too IS controlling. I expect a return, especially if I go out of my way to get you what you want. That isn’t healthy.
So she introduced me to absolutes based on what I value and those are the things I don’t budge on. I had initially looked at setting the absolutes as being controlling and about needed permission. As someone who rarely says no, I never considered that it’s ok to say no if you really mean it. A value based absolute is a boundary and that is healthy. When we know what we value, we make clear decisions and we know when lines are actually crossed. It isn’t about living in black and white, but what happens is we either learn to compromise within the boundaries we set with people or we recognize we aren’t compatible. That’s different than people pleasing and expecting people to do the same for you. The people who constantly bulldoze your boundaries are NOT your people and they will never give you what you need—they don’t care. Those who love you and value the same things as you will respect your limits and value your input to their lives.
She also took me to the flip side of this which is when we have too many absolutes in our lives. And that I had to take some onus on. I have a lot of scattered goals and they all are pretty big. I can’t say I’ve made a ton of progress on them but I keep grinding regardless of that outcome. The issue is that in order for me to do all of those things at once without real focus, it has created a list of absolutes that can’t change at any time. There’s no flex, no room for flow because you can’t be in alignment with multiple things at the same time. You have to learn to level up and build the frequency, not sing all the songs at the same time. At the same time there’s no clarity. It’s great to have big dreams, but you won’t get anywhere without a singular FOCUS: follow one course until successful. Allow things to unfold in their time. So for all my people pleasers, I hope this helps you remember that you can still have your absolutes. You are worth that. Know yourself and know your value and values. Let the rest go and just be you…..