Control gives people a sense of comfort. In a way, the drive to control is a fear of the unknown. We fear things we cannot control, because we have no idea what will happen if we aren't the ones controlling it. Think about it. Why do we fear wild animals? Why do we fear falling? Why do people fear flying? Why do some fear intimacy? Why do some go so far as to fear electricity?
There are those that need ultimate control. These are people who we call 'control freaks'. They have structured lives, they live the same routine over and over, and they rarely, if ever, try anything new. They need to be in control all the time, because they place their value on it. The exact opposite is also very apparent, those who would give up all control, or who are addicted to giving up all control. We call them 'adrenaline junkies'. They skydive, drive rocket-cars, play Russian Roulette, and generally do things that would cause extreme fear in your average Joe. Giving up control is a powerful experience. Some express it in more subtle ways, however. Some turn to drugs to give up control, while others go for more sexual expressions. I'm not saying any of this is bad, just an expression of either complete control, or no control at all.
The two extremes of this spectrum are quite visible in relationships. On the one hand, you have those that need ultimate control in a relationship. This can take many forms, such as an emotional manipulator, an abuser, or even something as innocuous as one who needs to know where their partner is all the time. This is a need to control someone else, and because that need is focused on another person, that is codependency; they depend on the other person needing them. Another form of this type of person, is one who needs to constantly take care of others.
The other end of the spectrum is someone who needs to need. This is the constant victim of relationships; who constantly needs someone to take control for them. This is the one who would end up with an abuser, because the abuser takes so much control. This type of person has a codependent need to give up control, to be submissive to someone else.
Control and The Empath
So, the big question is, where does an empath fall? Here is the surprising answer: all over the spectrum.
An unstable empath is someone who constantly needs someone to need them. They place all their value on being altruistic and loving. And so, they have a basic need for other people to need them. They are the shoulder that others cry on, they are the ones who people go to in order to unload all their pent-up emotions. In this sense, they depend on others to need them to give them value; they are codependent.
However, underneath all of that, the typical unstable/unaware empath needs someone. Since they are the ones who are the shoulder, they have no shoulder of their own to cry on, leading to extreme lonliness. This type of person also, on top of needing to be needed, they need someone else as well. Because of this, they are also prone to fall into the same cycles of abuse. They are both ends of the spectrum.
Take Julie for example.
She is quite hypersensitive. All throughout her life, she has been the one that people confide in, she has been that shoulder that others cry on. From a very young age, she was conditioned to have absolutely no self-esteem, no self-worth. She has accepted that she is worthless, and a failure. But this does not stop her from giving others that which she so desperately needs: empathy.
Giving others empathy is what keeps Julie alive. That is her purpose in life, despite how worthless she is. It's what gets her out of bed in the morning, it's what drives her to live. Her purpose in life is based entirely upon the good she feels she does when she gives other people help.
However, in all her relationships, she tries to give up control. She tries to make that person her shoulder to cry on. Sometimes, it works, and sometimes, it doesn't. She dates manipulators and abusers one after another, seeking each time for someone to relinquish control to, and each time, she is abused and hurt, coming close to death many, many times.
She does have a best friend, however. This friend is someone who has been in her life for a very long time, and Julie has fallen deep in love with him. He's not the best guy in the world, he cheats, lies, and frequently does drugs. But despite all of that, Julie loves him, and he loved her, until he found another girl. This new girl is truly the love of his life, and Julie can't take it. He even went so far as to give up all his drug habits for her; something he never even considered doing for Julie. And when she found out, it shattered Julie's heart. But despite all of that, she didn't want to let him go, because he was the only shoulder Julie had to cry on, he was the only one she could give up control to. He was the only one that gave her that sense of security.
And one day, when he was with his new girlfriend, Julie called him. She needed him, and she knew it. The reply she heard, was a flat "no". And that was it. Julie let him go.
If you yourself are a control freak, or one who gives up too much control, there are plenty of resources to help you.
Here are two quizes to find out if you could be considered a control freak:
And here are some articles that talk about being a control freak:
And here are some resources for those of you who give up too much control.
One thing in this life is for certain: we cannot control everything. Trying is quite simply and bluntly, a waste of time. However, there are times when we need to take control. Sometimes, we are giving up control of a part of our life that we should not. Other times, we are taking control of something we should not, struggling to control something or someone that simply refuses to be controlled.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.