6 Signs Your Perfectionism Might be Veering into Control Freak Territory

darklady.jpgAre you constantly redoing things to make sure they’re absolutely perfect? Do you find yourself noticing pictures on walls that are slightly crooked and straightening them, even if it’s not in your own home? Are you consistently late and always have a pat excuse? Do you criticize and find faults with others, but in your mind, you’re always right?

All of these behaviors are signs you might be a control freak! Yes, you! A control freak is someone with a need to control other people, situations, and environments to create a sense of security, false though it may be. This is ultimately to cover their own insecurities and fears. They become perfectionists because they can’t stand being wrong, inferior, or criticized. They have a need to be the best, and to avoid failure at all costs, again to cover up insecurity within themselves, which often they do not even recognize.

To keep from letting their anxieties overwhelm them, they control their life and keep their fears at bay. They’re often critical of themselves as well as others, because few can meet their expectations and high levels of performance. Needless to say, they are difficult to be around since there’s usually little room for compromise or communication. If you even suspect that you may have control issues, here are 6 signs you might be a control freak:

1. Perfectionist behavior:

Are you obsessed with having everything in your life be absolutely perfect, from spotless, organized work and home environments, to dotting all your “i’s” and crossing all your “t’s”? Do you demand perfection of others from your family and friends to the people you work with, even if you’re not a boss? Do you bemoan the fact that you have to do everything yourself because no one else will do as good a job as you? If so, watch out! These are clear behaviors of control gone out of control. When everything in your life is letter perfect, you feel safe, content, and in charge. It gives you a sense of power, and that alleviates your underlying anxieties.

2. Control environments:

Control freaks like to be in charge at all costs and that means having their environments meet their standards. That might mean a spotless car, completely organized work space, and a decorator’s dream of a home. Having everything in its place, at all times, provides a measure of safety and control that keeps a control freak’s anxieties in check. When you know you can get up every morning to find the coffee brewing in the pot, the newspaper by the front door, and the refrigerator filled with your favorite foods, all is right with the world. But let the newspaper be late, or let the electricity go off and the coffee maker not be on, and the control freak flies off the handle.

3. Control other people:

Do you find yourself telling your partner who their friends should be, what they should wear, and how they should drive? Do you tell people how to fix their lives and problems even when they don’t ask? Do people tell you that you’re bossy as they start disappearing from your life? One of the most dangerous things anyone can do is to “try” to control another person. It’s a great way to lose friends and loved ones. Some people who are even more insecure than the control freak may stick around for a while, but not for long. A control freak stirs up problems in their relationships and often finds themselves in arguments and shouting matches. Then they use their anger, hysterics, or silent treatment to control the other person. And here’s the last word on control freaks–they insist on having the last word!

4. Control the outcome:

Do you feel you have to monitor events like a hawk to avoid anything going wrong? That without you, the outcome will not turn out the way you want? Control freaks control events, control procedure, and control time. They have high expectations of themselves and others, but feel that if they don’t manage everything, the outcome won’t be guaranteed–and failure is just not an option to a control freak. They have a reputation of perfection to uphold, and the only way they can do that is be in charge of everything–in their lives and in the lives of those around them.

5. Don’t take failure or criticism well:

Control freaks cannot do anything wrong so don’t even try to tell them anything negative about themselves or their performance. They will stick up for their actions even when it’s clear they are wrong. They just turn it around and blame someone else for the failure–it’s never them. And of course, their way is the only way. They’re just not open to criticism and feedback so don’t even waste your time.

6. Anger, rage, shutdowns:

If anything goes out of control in their life, a control freak either shuts down and turns their anger inside or turns into a rageaholic and throws a temper tantrum. You don’t want to be around them when they get “out of control.” That’s the worst case scenario for these insecure, anxious folks. If they’re upset with themselves for the error they made, they’ll rage against themselves by shutting down their emotions, getting depressed, or pouting. When they’re upset with another, you’ll know about it. They go into blame, shame, and complain–and it’s the cause of many failed relationships both personal and professional.

If you find yourself exhibiting some of these tendencies you may have control issues. If you see yourself in most of these scenarios, you are most probably a raging control freak. Look at how that’s working for you. If it’s time for a change, consider working with a coach to examine your control issues and let them go for a more freeing, fulfilling life.

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Thanks to Widow’s Quest for featuring this post in the Carnival of Positive Thinking, to momentor for including this post in the Carnival of Personal Development, and to Andy Parkinson’s World for publishing this post in the Carnival of Personal Development.


Maybe you’re not a control freak… but you know a few of them in your life? Share your stories here on the Slow Down Fast blog!

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