Having Anxiety? How To Deal With Control Issues

Anxiety disorders seem to go hand in hand with depression when a controlling person feels they have no sense of power over a matter. 

It is horribly uncomfortable when a control freak has their comfort zone disrupted by the external world.  

Does this describe you or someone you live with? Do you want to know how to deal with control issues? 

There is help available in both the medical community and the Bible. 

Why do people have control issues? 

When it comes to the lives of others, we can not control what they think, believe, do, or say. Yet most of us try to accomplish the impossible to some degree.

The more difficult situation we are in the harder we try to change things. 

So why do we do this? What are control issues a symptom of?

I know a man who as a child witnessed his mother’s murder. That led to a need to control his environment so that nothing bad ever happened to him again.

That traumatic event has colored his whole perspective on life. He deals with interpersonal relationships in very unhealthy ways and he has some abusive behavior.

He needs professional help to learn how to deal with control issues but simply won’t admit it. 

Other traumatic causes could be

  • emotional abuse
  • mental abuse
  • sexual assault
  • physical abuse
  • lack of support from an authority figure
  • rigid rules growing up and little or no positive reinforcement for what a child did right 

This is only a partial list of events and situations that can be traumatic. 

Our past experiences can greatly influence our need for control. But let me just say that we can’t use them as an excuse for our own behavior. Though we may feel like a prisoner of our past, Jesus came to set the captives free. (1)

Our thought patterns affect our emotions. So negative thoughts lead to negative feelings. We often learn this way of thinking early in life. But I am here to tell you that God has a fix for this. (2)

Photo of a diagram with "same old thought" to "same old results". When we are learning how to deal with control issues we have to change our thoughts.
When we are learning how to deal with control issues,
we have to change our thinking.

Numerous personality disorders go hand in hand with control issues. 

  • narcissistic personality disorder
  • borderline personality disorder
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder

This is only a partial list, and not all control issues are due to mental illness.

Low self-esteem is also a factor in the degree of control that we think we need. When things are going our way we feel better about ourselves. But that is only a temporary fix, like a bandaid on a gaping wound. 

When we are learning how to deal with control issues, we must understand who we are, not compared to others, but according to God.

Can control issues be fixed?  

Since control issues are often the result of some form of abuse or mental health problems, the fix often includes cognitive behavioral therapy by a professional therapist. 

In professional counseling, you will have a sounding board, someone who has had training and/or experience with what you are going through.

Having been on the receiving end of professional help, I know that many coping techniques are taught like 

  • relaxation techniques, 
  • how to challenge negative emotions, 
  • how to deal with destructive fear,
  • how to make a safety plan if you are in an abusive relationship, 
  • and much more. 

How do you let go of control issues? ​Once you have formed this habit you will find that it is hard to overcome.

You will need supportive people in your life and maybe a professional to help you make a successful transition because new skills will be needed. 

When you are learning how to deal with control issues, you can also help yourself over the hump a lot faster by putting into practice some of God’s principles. 

How do you outsmart a controlling person who is full of manipulative tactics?

Personal relationships are tricky when they include a family member who violates clear boundaries and may be abusive verbally or physically. 

As human beings, we often want to take matters into our own hands. But let’s face it. We have little control, if any, over other people.

The best way to handle this emotionally is to let God direct you.

“Trust in the Lord and not your own ways. Acknowledge your dependence on Him and He will direct you.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (personal paraphrase)

Each situation is unique. For safety reasons, some women need to leave physically.

When we are learning how to deal with control issues, we must lean heavily on God because His strength is available to us when we are weak.

Where to get help for control issues

First of all, keep the phone number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline handy. In the United States, it is 800-799-7233. You can also text START to 88788. They also have a website.

If you are in an abusive relationship, you are at higher risk for personal injury. Your physical health should be your first priority. You won’t be of any help to your dependents or anyone else if you end up severely injured or worse.

Don’t ever underestimate the potential for bad things to happen in a controlling relationship.

Don’t ever ignore threats to yourself or to others however small they may seem. Manipulators are very skilled at explaining away what seems like a threat.

It is always better to find a team of therapists locally. But not every community has these resources. An online therapy choice that I like to recommend is Better Help. 

This organization has over 20,000 licensed therapists who provide convenient and affordable online therapy. You can also request a “Christian therapist” which is good news. 

Fear of the unknown and what might happen is a driving force in control issues. That is why the Bible tells us over 300 times to “fear not.” It is a human tendency which denies that God is in control. 

Godly friends are important

You need positive Christian friends in your life to help support you in many ways.

  • They can listen with a heart of compassion, a hallmark of Jesus’ concern for those held captive by control issues.
  • They can help remind you of what God says when control issues push you.
  • They can pray for you and with you.
  • They can share how God has helped them personally.
  • They can help you sort out what you have control over and what you don’t, making a better plan for what to do next.

Kind, compassionate friends will help you as you learn how to deal with control issues.

Trusting God is essential

Fear and anxiety are believing that God might not get things right.

What would happen if we believed that:

  • God’s plans for us are good. (3)
  • That regardless of what happens God will make it work out for our good and His glory. (4)
  • We can never be separated from God’s love. (5)

Changing our thought patterns takes time but the Bible says that it is the only way to be changed. (6)

I would challenge you to take charge of your life by turning it over to Jesus who understands the fears and anxieties that drive our need for control over our circumstances or the actions of others.

Our spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being depends on our trust in Jesus Christ, the author of peace and abundant life. (7)

Regardless of our best intentions, God’s ways are always superior. (8)

Will you take that first step towards a healthy relationship with God, and then with others?

If you don’t know Jesus, you probably have questions. The people at “Chat About Jesus” have answers. They are available 24/7/365 with an online chat, by phone, or by texting.

Our quality of life does not depend on our circumstances or the people around us. When we truly understand this truth, we will be able to let go of our need for control.

You might also like to read:

References (Each link will take you to an online Bible called “Bible Gateway.”)

  1. Isaiah 61:1
  2. Philippians 4:6-9
  3. Jeremiah 29:11
  4. Romans 8:28
  5. Romans 8:38-39
  6. Romans 12:1-2
  7. John 10:10
  8. Isaiah 55:8-9

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