In my own life, when I look back at the situations where I was very controlling, all those situations had one thing in common: I wasn’t pursuing my own life. I was going after what someone else wanted, even if they had never made their desires explicit. But I knew, consciously or not.

Since I was pursuing someone else’s dreams, my efforts were forced, painful and labored. That energy rubbed off on other people. They didn’t want to get involved, so I tried to manipulate them. This led to anxiety, burnout and stress, which of course led to more controlling behavior.

Setting boundaries, pursuing your own life, and not trying to control others. All three go hand in hand. If you aren’t saying no to people, you won’t have the energy to live your own life. If you don’t have that energy, people won’t be attracted to you, because there’s no positive energy to attract them. So then you will use your remaining energy trying to control others, which will mostly backfire. You’ll end up feeling stretched out, thin, brittle.

In fact you’ll probably end up with a victim complex, feeling like you are always doing things for everyone else.

In the areas of your life where you are the most controlling, ask yourself: Is this really what I want? Or am I trying so hard to control others partly because I feel like I’m being controlled myself, by forces I don’t understand?