Loving Yourself When Feeling Engulfed and ControlledBy Dr. Margaret Paul
November 15, 2016
What do you do when someone is trying to control you? Do you give in, argue or resist? Discover how to love yourself instead of abandoning yourself.
Most of us have had the experience in our relationships of someone trying to control us. Perhaps they were doing it with anger and blame, or by complaining and guilting us, or by withdrawing their love, or even by being too 'nice.'
Whatever controlling strategies others use to get us to feel or behave in the ways they want, it doesn't feel good inside – it feels engulfing and smothering. Yet most people don't know what to say or do to take loving care of themselves when someone is trying to control them. Most of us never received any role modeling of what it looks like to love yourself when feeling engulfed or controlled.
Before you can even begin to learn to love yourself when someone is trying to control you, you need to be aware of your own intent: Is your intent to control them or to resist being controlled, or is your intent to love yourself? You won't be able to remember the loving action toward yourself when your intent is to control or not be controlled. Interestingly, resisting being controlled isn't at all the same thing as loving yourself. Here's why:
When someone is trying to control you and you go into resistance, you are not going inside to see if doing what they want you to do would be in your highest good or not. You are going to automatic resistance rather than opening to learning with your higher self to discover what is in your highest good. In resisting, you are still being controlled by them, because you are not making up your own mind regarding what is best for you.
In order to discover what is loving to you in any given situation, you first have to WANT to be loving to yourself. Then you need to open to learning with your higher self about what is most loving to you.
Here are some of the ways I've learned to love myself when someone is trying to control me:
- The first thing I do is I make it irrelevant whether or not they are trying to control me, – i.e. I let go of caring about whether they believe they are winning. Then I tune into my feelings to see if I actually want to do what they want me to do, and then I open to learning with my Guidance to see if it is loving to me to do it. This way, I'm making up my own mind rather than either giving in or resisting, but the only way I can do this is if I've let go of caring whether or not they think they are controlling me.
In cases where I decide that my loving action aligns with what they want me to do, I may choose to let them know what I plan to do, explaining that I am doing it because it feels right to me, and then I will follow through with one of the following loving actions.
- If I think that the person will be open to learning, I will say something like, "Something isn't feeling good between us right now. It feels like you are trying to control me. Is that what's happening?" If the person is open, we can get into a good learning conversation.
- If I already know that the person is stuck in their wounded self and won't be open to learning with me, then I might say something like, "I don't like it when you try to control me. I'm going for a walk now (or hanging up the phone, or going into another room). I speak my truth and then lovingly disengage.
- If I know that the other person will become even more controlling if I speak my truth, then I just lovingly disengage, leaving the conversation to take loving care of myself.
In order to have a loving relationship, it's very important to learn to love yourself even when someone is trying to control you. If you don't learn how to show up as a loving adult, you might be relationship-avoidant, for fear of losing yourself – which could lead to commitment phobia.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Relationships Course: "Loving Relationships: A 30-Day Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul - For people who are partnered and people who want to be partnered."
Join IBVillage and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.
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Today notice, WITHOUT JUDGMENT, if you are primarily a taker - expecting others to take care of you, or if you are primarily a caretaker - taking care of others in the hopes they will love you and connect to you. Since neither taking nor care-taking are loving to yourself, both are aspects of the ego wounded self and are symptoms of self-abandonment.
By Dr. Margaret Paul