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9 Ways We Set Ourselves Up To Be Controlled in Relationships

Do you often feel like others are controlling? Or do you feel like the pressures of life are too much? Do you give your power away to others and feel helpless?

If so, this post will shed light on how you might be setting yourself up to feel controlled by others and life circumstances. As any good coach will tell you, taking your power back can change everything!

emotionalpainMost of us are not conscious of how we give our power away. And that’s why articles like this one are so important.

If you’re in the subconscious habit of giving your power away, you’re mostly aware of the results – a sense of helplessness, frustration, powerlessness and lack of control in your life.

Waking up and seeing how you have allowed yourself to be controlled – walking right into it time and time again, is an amazing AHA experience.

Once you see it, then you can exercise choice. You can’t have a choice about things outside of your conscious awareness.

Nine Signs That You Are Setting Yourself Up To Be Controlled

These nine examples reflect our tendency to invite, or even subconsciously require, others to control us. The patters were discovered through an effort to develop a training for coaches. If you do one or more of these things consistently, you may be inviting more control into your life than you consciously want.

1. You don’t take good care of yourself.

If you don’t take care of yourself, you send a subconscious message to others. The message is: I can’t take care of myself, so please take care of me. This invites others to intervene and tell you what you should be doing. It also invites them to nag you to get yourself together. You are inviting control from others by neglecting yourself.

2. You rebel against authority or expectations.

Emotional rebels are masters of being controlled. When genuine authority beckons, they resist, which invites greater intervention from those in charge. Line up 10 employees. Nine of them follow the rules and cooperate with each other. One is a rebel. Who gets monitored more closely? The rebel. The rebel invites more authority into his life than anyone. He is begging to be controlled.

He hates authority, but is subconsciously inviting authority to come down on him daily. Deep down, does he really hate authority or is he seeking to be controlled by it? Both.

3. You don’t follow through

You’ve agreed to do certain things. You don’t do them. What happens next? You get confronted. Someone comes after you, demanding you make good on your word. By not doing what you agree to do, you invite others to step in and take charge of you.

4. You continually ask for help when you don’t really need it.

Ever known anyone who compulsively asks for help to do things that he or she could do just as well alone? Sometimes this is an invitation for companionship. But if you do this constantly, you’re asking others to take charge.

5. You are not willing to take risks.

If you’re afraid of taking risks, making mistakes and being held accountable for them, you’ll likely invite others to come in and take over for you. Fearing mistakes is fearing the inevitable. Everyone makes them. Smart people are thankful for mistakes because mistakes help you learn, which makes you more independent.

6. You refuse to say no.

Huge set up for giving power away and feeling controlled by the demands of life. When you can’t say no when you should, you are automatically over extended. Then, of course, people expect you to follow through. When you can’t, they begin to bug you.

7. You will not express your opinion.

A sure way to ensure that others have all the power is to withhold your thoughts, feelings and opinions that they you have no say in what’s going on. This way, you agree to the agenda of those willing to speak up. They have the power and you are at their mercy by virtue of your silent compliance.

8. You attract controlling people.

You may just be attracted to people who like to control others. These controlling types may appear more powerful, independent, charismatic and safer for you to be with. If you have a subconscious desire to be controlled, you may not feel comfortable with someone who expects you to make your own decisions and be responsible for them.

9. You have little awareness of your feelings.

Feelings are an indispensable part of decision-making. Clear feelings reflect your values and give you a sure foundation in life. If you aren’t in touch with your feelings, you may not have a clear idea where you stand.

For example, someone asks you to do something that you are not comfortable with. Your discomfort is vague and you push it away, not wanting to grapple with it. Unable to be clear about your feelings, you are more likely to ignore them and “just do it.”

This is risky. It’s this level of repression that entices you to succumb to pressure or make decisions based on someone else’s agenda.

An invitation to feel helpless

The end result of these subconscious or subtle means of inviting more control into your life is that you end up feeling powerless, helpless, a victim of controlling people and circumstances. If you feel this way – like your life is not your own to live – then, you may have an attachment to being controlled.

This is self-sabotage at it’s finest. A subconscious attachment to being controlled causes you to seek out controlling environments and people, while hating every minute of it consciously.

To learn how psychological attachments create self-sabotage, watch this easy-to-understand video. You’re virtually guaranteed the AHA you need to break this cycle.

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9 Ways We Set Ourselves Up To Be Controlled in Relationships

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2015). 9 Ways We Set Ourselves Up To Be Controlled in Relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Mar 2015
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