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          Advice for Perfectionists and Controllers

          November 11, 2002

          If your perfectionism or need to control others is ruining your relationships, Dr. Phil has some advice.
          • If a relationship with a loved one is strained because of your behavior, ask yourself what ownership you have in the current situation. What are you doing to alienate those close to you?
          • Ask yourself: How much fun are you to be around? Can you honestly blame anyone for not wanting to be around someone who constantly nags, criticizes and controls? Do you have a critical spirit?
          • Acknowledge that the need to control is really about you. It isn’t about the people you are trying to control ” it’s about a need that you are trying to fill, or a fear that you may have. When a person is trying to control all the external chaos in their world, they are really trying to control their internal chaos.
          • What is driving your need for perfectionism? Find out what you are afraid of. If you don’t control everything, what do you think will happen? What are you afraid people will conclude about you if you aren’t perfect? What do you know about you, that you think everybody would see, if you didn’t keep up the façade? 
          •  Be aware of how you make people feel. If you have children, they may be feeling like they will never measure up, they’ll never be good enough, there’s nothing they can ever do to please you. Are you inadvertently teaching them how to become a controlling perfectionist just like you? Do you really want to hand that legacy down to your children?  
          • It is possible to be so controlling that it actually cripples your health. Isn’t it true that you’re exhausted trying to control everything? As you get older, you’re going to find you have less and less energy to keep all of the balls in the air. And some of them are going to start hitting the ground, and then you’re going to start panicking. At some point you have to trust yourself and trust the world enough to say, “I will let go and if it falls apart, it falls apart.” The world is not going to fall off its axis if you let go. 
          • Ask yourself what you have to lose if you stop trying to control others. You know on a rational level that it isn’t possible to control people and the world. You can’t really lose any control because you don’t really have control over other people and the world now. 
          • Understand that what you fear, you create. Sometimes controlling people are so afraid of losing the people around them, that they drive the ones they love away with controlling behavior.
          • Give yourself permission to let go and make the choice to change.   

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