At a friend’s house this weekend for a book group discussion, I ended up getting a bunch of magazines to take home; ‘toilet reading,’ said A Certain Male. In among the gossipy ones was Psychologies. [I am not even sure how that word becomes plural, how do you use that in a sentence? ‘There are a lot of psychologies effecting me today’?] And the lead article on the cover was: “PERSONALITY: The Control Freak’s Guide to Letting Go + Test”
I know it is hard to believe but I am a control freak. Yes, that is right. Me. In control. Or at least holding on to the illusion of control with a vice-like grip. I actually don’t have a problem with it, but I guess some other people (A Certain Male) might. Generally I find that my control-freakery manifests itself in ways that are generally beneficial to all of human-kind (my work space and living space are completely organized, I can always find anything I am looking for, I am very rarely late to or absent from commitments I make, I always know what is in my refrigerator, I always know how much money I have, I am an excellent planner and goal setter, I am disgustingly responsible) but I guess this part of the “issue.”
Why would anyone want to ‘let go’ I wondered…
First things first, you were supposed to take the quiz to determine if you are in fact an actual control freak. The instructions were to check any questions that you could answer positively- and please “answer honestly.” If you checked more than three (of fifteen) you “may have issues” with control.
1. I make lists for every aspect of my life
2. I rarely think I am wrong
3. I don’t like people touching my stuff
4. I can’t bear waiting for people when they turn up late
5. I like to know what my partner is doing all of the time
6. I do think that if you want to do something well, you may as well do it yourself
7. I like my holidays to be structured with lots of activities
8. I would be appalled if someone through me a surprise party
9. I really don’t like other people’s mess
10. I feel offended when people don’t follow my advice
11. I have to hold the remote control when I’m watching TV with people
12. Other people don’t share the same high standards as me
13. I’d rather work longer and complete something than get someone else to do it
14. I find it difficult to tell people what to do without telling them how to do it as well
15. If I keep an eye on everything, I know it will be okay
Well, now. The way they put some of those you would think they think they are bad things. Here are my answers, though I realize there are not necessarily supposed to be qualifications, but I feel there need to be a few *cough, cough*
1. I make lists for every aspect of my life Absolutely. And shit gets done… plus I feel extra gratified in crossing thing off the lists.
2. I rarely think I am wrong This is true. Unfortunately it bears out more than the converse and so it seems valid. I am usually the first to admit it when I have made a mistake, or at least one I am willing to admit…
3. I don’t like people touching my stuff There are some exceptions to this but generally, YES.
4. I can’t bear waiting for people when they turn up late I have no problem with this, I use the time to make lists.
5. I like to know what my partner is doing all of the time This was never a problem for me until I met A Certain Male who repeatedly did some really stupid shit and made me slightly nuerotic.
6. I do think that if you want to do something well, you may as well do it yourself YES. Assuming “well” means how you want it done.
7. I like my holidays to be structured with lots of activities I do not see how this relates to the other issues. And NO.
8. I would be appalled if someone through me a surprise party No way- – party on.
9. I really don’t like other people’s mess I would like to know who in the hell DOES like someone else’s mess. Come on… No one!!
10. I feel offended when people don’t follow my advice I do not get offended by this at all, though in some cases I am curious.
11. I have to hold the remote control when I’m watching TV with people Only if I am being silly, though I guess I sort of prefer it.
12. Other people don’t share the same high standards as me No question, absolutely true.
13. I’d rather work longer and complete something than get someone else to do it Generally. I look at it as saving time on the flip side.
14. I find it difficult to tell people what to do without telling them how to do it as well I think I instinctively might want to do this, but 14 years of teaching has taught me to save it for later.
15. If I keep an eye on everything, I know it will be okay Duh. Well, won’t it??
So, how did I score? Honestly, I guess I have to say I checked eight, maybe eight and a half if you count the clicker issue (56%). So I have issues with control. You don’t say. I took two other quizzes here and here and they bore out the results… I was rated on the high side of: “you are able to relinquish control when necessary and are on the healthy side of being in control” and “Generally, you are in control but not a control freak. You life is usually in order. However, sometimes you get too obsessed with making everything in your life picture perfect (52%)” respectively.
Now that I have confirmed what I already knew, I am wondering if it is really bad. I tend to believe that my control issues are really all about me, for instance I don’t really care if people take my advice and rarely offer it in unsolicited situations. I also do not mind when other people are late, or listening to others, in fact I think I am a good listener. I actually have found that the issues I have about my control freakery are more to do with how I feel when things get out of control and the fact that everyone thinks I am in such control it gives them license to be ridiculous and rely on me more than I think is appropriate. The Guardian says that the difference between being conscientious and organized is that the control freak’s behavior affects others.
But doesn’t all behavior affect others? I mean if you choose to be affected, that is.
And then there is more about how the need for control comes from anxiety or trust issues, and I do believe this is true as well as the basis for the health concerns that arise. In an article about dealing with control freaks the author describes some of the dynamics that fuel control freaks and I found them to be pretty accurate… “an exaggerated emphasis on control is part of a cluster of behaviors that can be labeled as compulsive generally characterized by perfectionism, orderliness, workaholic tendencies, an inability to make commitments or to trust others and a fear of having their flaws exposed.” That is pretty much me… The article goes on to talk about two different kinds of control freaks. I guess I am type 1, with exception of the eye contact thing.
In order to “let go” the suggestions are about identifying where the tendency to control comes from (I have no idea, I thought it was just a Virgo thing… and I am a Dog in the Chinese calendar, prone to anxiety) and suspending judgement. I think I will work on the latter. I will not judge people for not meeting my standards. But in order to do this I might need a little more personal space and I envision a bit more alone time. I wonder if there are certain personality types that exacerbate the tendency to control. I guess there must be. Then again, that is just like a control freak to need an answer for everything.
I think teaching might be the best cure for control freakery. You have to be totally organized and in control on one hand, but then you also have to really let go when you are dealing with teenagers. Maybe that is why I like working with them so much. Do control freaks become teachers or does teaching make you a control freak?
I am not sure if any of this is really important, I don’t think I have a personality disorder, but maybe…
Or maybe everyone else just needs to step it up a bit.