Welcome to Part 4 of our series on the Crazy Bitch Syndrome. We’ve talked about negging, testing and stalking. Well, today we’re going to cover the final type of crazy bitch behavior – controlling. This is the most pervasive type of crazy bitch behavior and it can really sneak up on you. If you’ve ever talked over someone else, taken something away from them because you could “do it better”, or not asked for help because they won’t do it right, you’ve experienced a version of this behavior. Of course, it can be a lot less subtle than that.
Watch today’s video to explore deeper.
Today is our fourth installment in “The Crazy Bitch Syndrome Series.” And, if you haven’t watched the other three videos, here’s a recap for you.
In part one we talked about Negging, and in part two we talked about testing people, or as I called it “The Taming of the Shrew Syndrome.” In part three we talked about “Compulsive Snooping” or “Stalking.” And today, we’re going to talk about “Controlling Behavior.” This is the big Kahuna! I totally saved the best for last.
“Crazy Bitch Behavior”, or “The Crazy Bitch Syndrome” is not just a female trait. Both men and women alike can be befallen by this syndrome. This behavior, which is triggered by our insecurities has the power to sabotage our romantic relationships, our work relationships, our family relationships, and our platonic relationships. So, basically, whenever we’re dealing with other people, any unchecked insecurities we have can and very often will cause the crazy bitch to come out.
The fourth type of behavior that I want address here today, is “Controlling Behavior”, which is when we no longer treat the other person as an equal, and we start going into dictator or controlling parent mode when we are with them. For example, you can do this with your partner, or your partner can do this with you. Bosses can do this, co-workers can do this and family members can definitely do it. It’s essentially where one person treats another person more like a child who has messed up, rather than as a partner, or as an equal, or as another adult. If you’ve been befallen by this syndrome and your crazy bitch is coming out, then you might treat the other person like this without even realizing you’re doing it or without meaning to do it.
So, what does that look like? Well, it looks like this: Your main reaction to another person (and sometimes pretty much all people) is that they can’t be trusted to do it right, and it’s YOUR job to police that, fix it and clean it up. You don’t give the other person the benefit of the doubt. You assume that they’ve screwed up, no matter what they did. You might say something like this to them: “What are you doing NOW? Just leave it. You’ll only mess it up.” The problem with this kind of approach is that there’s no respect for the other person. There’s no kindness, there’s no compassion, and there’s usually no self-awareness. Actually, there’s no self-awareness whenever the crazy bitch comes out; the crazy bitch has no self-awareness.
What is controlling behavior caused by?
What it’s really caused by is fear – usually one of two fears. There’s the fear that things are not going to go well, and that you’ll be the one who will be blamed. And then there’s the fear that the other person will leave you (though death, or betrayal, or just abandonment), which then causes you to become controlling. By the way, this is totally counterproductive, because this type of behavior tends to drive people away.
Of course, there are a thousand different nuanced fears that can cause people to react in a controlling way, but they usually fall into one of these two categories. The specifics of your fear will always be unique to you, though.
So, you have some kind of fear and that fear is causing you to become really controlling, and this then causes you to become mean, disrespectful, and condescending. People do this with their kids too. Being a good parent doesn’t mean having to be a control freak. Guidance and control are not the same thing. I have seen women do this with men and I’ve seen men do this with women. I have seen bosses do this with their employees, colleagues also do it with each other, and family members definitely treat each other this way. I could probably make a video about every sub group here – controlling is a really, really, really rampant type of CBS behavior. You believe you have to control the other person. But when someone points out your controlling behavior, you may often at first want to blame others, as in “Well, if they weren’t such a fuck-up, I wouldn’t have to control everything.” That, by the way, is not helpful.
What is more helpful and what you want to do instead is to start taking a look at yourself and how you are viewing this person. Are you ever giving them the benefit of the doubt? Is your first reaction when something they did didn’t go the way that you thought it had to, something like “Argh; what have you done now?” “I knew this was going to happen! You’ve messed it up! This is ok! You ALWAYS mess everything up.” Here’s the thing to ponder: Maybe, they haven’t messed up. Maybe they’re just doing it differently. Which is ok. There’s more than one road to Rome. Notice I didn’t say there’s more than one way to skin a cat, because that’s horrible. Isn’t that horrible? What a horrible saying. Anyway, I went off on a little tangent there!
If you’re convinced that people are going to mess up before they’ve even gotten started, you’ve gone into controlling mode. Allow yourself to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe “different” is not bad. Maybe they’re more competent than you think. And maybe the reason they can’t show you that is because your vibration keeps insisting on attracting incompetence.
Can you be more compassionate when someone messes up?
Is there any compassion in the way that you’re viewing them? Even if they did mess it up, so what? Is that the end of the world? If your partner talked with his hands and the coffee cup landed on the ground and shattered, is your reaction “Oh my God, you’re always so clumsy.” (This maybe seem like a minor, arbitrary example, but this actually happened to a client of mine, and it’s representative of the controlling energy she was stuck in). Couldn’t your reaction instead be: “Whoops! I mean, shit happens. I’ve done that too.”
As a side note, I see this behavior in parents and grandparents a lot. They begin controlling the mistakes to come before they’ve even come, so there’s always this assumption that the child will mess up hanging in the air. It stifles all creativity, spontaneity, and joy.
Can you see yourself in them? Are you able to say “That could happen to me too”? Can you see that what you’re afraid of isn’t even really a big deal? And, are you seeing them as equal? Or, are you placing yourself above them with you taking on more responsibility? Are you thinking that you have to do it because they can’t? Are you making them weaker and less capable in your eyes?
We can find ourselves doing this with our partner, with our employees, or with a family member. Especially elderly family members will trigger controlling behavior, because the whole issue of mortality comes into it. We then begin treating them like incompetent little kids instead of adults who have been adulting successfully much longer than we have. Can you see how disrespectful that is?
So, controlling can be triggered by a fear of death, or a fear of loss, and can actually cause us to treat the person we’re afraid to lose with utter disrespect. Do you see the crazy in all this? Controlling can also be caused by a fear that you’ll be reprimanded by someone, and as far as you’re concerned, you’re the one who has to fix it. If you’re the older sibling, this might be something that was instilled in you from an early age, that you will always have to be the responsible one. Maybe when your younger sibling messed up you were the one that got scolded, which can install that kind of belief in you. You’ve always had to be the responsible one from an early age and you were reprimanded for something that other people did, and it’s therefore all up to you. Or, you might not have even been the older sibling, it doesn’t really matter. Maybe your parents needed you to take on certain responsibilities that were really beyond your age, and weren’t quite fair (asking you to grow up too fast). This can then lead to all different kinds of fears.
And this is understandable, but it’s not helpful. Controlling behavior sabotages your relationships, because nobody wants to be treated like that. Nobody wants to be treated like an incompetent little child. Not even children want to be treated like that.
Treating people like this will cause rifts in your relationships. It can cause your employees to hate you. They might fear you but they certainly don’t respect you. It can cause your partner to start to gravitate away from you, unless of course they’re super insecure (in which case you’re still in a very dysfunctional and imbalanced relationship.) It also causes your family members to not want to spend Thanksgiving with you.
Stopping your controlling behavior or another person’s controlling behavior
You might have a controlling family member, in which case, you’ll now have a better understanding of why they’re like that. And, if you’re so inspired, you could have a more authentic conversation with them – acknowledging their fear, and what it is they really want. If your partner is doing this to you or a family member is doing this to you, you’re most likely manifesting this as an opportunity it set some boundaries. You can do so compassionately, now that you know that it’s being triggered by fear. If they have enough self-awareness, talk to them about it.
If it’s you who’s falling into this category, sit yourself down and start to explore what it is that you’re really so afraid of, and what it is that you actually want. Understand just how counterproductive it is and how mean it is to be this controlling. Ask yourself if there’s a better way for you to get what you want.
We talked previously in the other three videos about becoming aware of what it is you really want and about asking for what you really want. That’s why I structured this 4-part series in the way I did, because the controlling aspect really encompasses a lot of the messages from the other main Crazy Bitch Behaviors. If you haven’t seen those other three videos, maybe go and watch them as well, as that’ll give you the whole picture on “The Crazy Bitch Syndrome.”
My crazy bitch behavior
We all have a crazy bitch inside us; I certainly do, and she used to come out all the time. All of these controlling behaviors that I’ve mentioned, I’ve been guilty of them in the past. So, I can speak from experience. It’s not just my clients who have had control issues; just about everybody has had control issues of some kind. I was certainly guilty of engaging in that kind of controlling behavior and it made me not so nice to be around.
When I had my very first management job in a restaurant, in San Francisco, I was a crap manager. I’ll totally admit that I was shitty at it. One of the reasons why I was so shitty was because I was super insecure. I was afraid that I was going to be found out as being a fraud. They would find out that I didn’t really know what I was talking about. Even though, I actually knew quite a bit, I thought I had to know everything. I couldn’t admit it if I didn’t know something, even something I had no way of knowing. And so, I was controlling, condescending and arrogant. I knew everything and I knew it better. I never listened, but I did a lot of talking. I constantly looked out for what people were doing wrong. After all, their behavior would reflect on me, and I was sure that they would mess it up. Different was always bad. It was my way or it was wrong. This stance didn’t make me very popular and it didn’t make me very affective. I had to learn the hard way that this just wasn’t working. But, I did pay attention and I did become a little bit more aware. I figured out that with the way I was behaving, well, I wouldn’t want to work for me; I wouldn’t want to work for a manager like me. I was actually able to turn that around and people managed ended up becoming my biggest strength. I was able to pay attention to what I was doing and why I was doing it, and then I turned it around. I began looking at my employees and myself differently, which led to a different relationship with them, and a totally different outcome. I began supporting my staff in their success, instead of getting in the way of it. I treated them with respect, asked them questions, really listened to them, and basically started treating them as equal human beings. I did the same (eventually) in my personal relationships, with similar awesome results.
If you’ve been guilty of controlling behavior, then practice awareness. Have that willingness to take a look at yourself and ask yourself, why you’re really behaving the way you are. But, ask yourself without judgment, if you can. Don’t beat up on yourself for this. Like I said, we all have a crazy bitch inside of us. You just need to remember, it’s a defensive mechanism and it comes out when our insecurities have been triggered. By becoming aware of those fears – the underlying motivation, we can then start to sooth them. Then the crazy bitch goes back in her goddam box.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on “The Crazy Bitch Syndrome”!
Until next week, when we’ll be talking about – Oh, I don’t know – whatever comes to mind; happy shiny puppy hugs and thank you for bringing your light to the world. Bye!
Exactly, Melody! We often confuse the need to micromanage with the desire to help. When I was in the university, there were a couple of girls in my class who frequently displayed this kind of behavior. Whenever they had to describe themselves, one said she was a very “caring” and “helpful” person. The other always described herself as “relaxed” and “easy to get along with”. The rest of us never agreed with either of them, but they both had too much resistance to be able to hear constructive feedback at that time.
That being said, I – a helper by nature – have had to watch my own behavior as well, in order to my good intentions won’t manifest as controlling behavior. Once I worked as an instructor in a workshop for “disadvantaged” youth. Many of them didn’t really know e.g. how to cook or clean, so my job was to instruct them but let them do the chores themselves. I often caught myself peeling and chopping the onion or cleaning the toilet, thinking “At least when I’m doing this, we’ll be able to get something done!” Then I had a conversation with my workplace mentor, who advised me that it doesn’t quite serve the youngsters if I’m always stepping in to “help”. And she was right. Many of our youngsters were discouraged to participate household chores by their very own parents, and were treated as incapable and patronized in every way. Would I really like to demoralize them even more? Hell no. From that day on, I gave them much more space to perform their tasks and, not surprisingly, they rapidly started to improve and some even started to show own initiative. It’s like they blossomed immediatly when given the chance. I still can recall the delicious vegetable soup they once cooked, without me having to assist them at all. Yay! 😀
Hey Lady R,
What a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing. And what an awesome program!! I love the idea of teaching people basic adulting skills. Ha.
Is there a way to turn the banner off? I love the post, but nearly every time I scroll down, a big black banner drops down and covers some of the text. Then it goes away. Then it comes back again….How do you make it not do that?
Hmmmm, there’s no way to turn it off. But it shouldn’t be getting in the way. What device are you viewing the blog on, if I may ask? Might be a setting we can tweak…
Even I was wondering the same. Maybe that banner is in the blog theme itself. And mostly it appears when scrolling down. And disappears when scrolling up!
Hi Melody and LOA friends,
I’m glad you mentioned having family members that behave this way. I am the baby of 4 daughters and I have felt controlled by them my whole life. Currently I made a decision to move in with one of my sisters out of state, because I dreamed to live here. Our long distance relationship was somewhat still displaying these control issues but hey, I could talk when I wanted about what I wanted. Now I’m here and I have a tendency to keep the peace and deny my inner being to try and make others happy, which we know we can’t really control. It’s just the mechanism, or limiting belief, I’m used to. So I don’t feel comfortable conversing with said sister about this behavior, because her defenses are high! At least I can see with compassion why she behaves this way, she has many insecurities and looking back that was true throughout my childhood relationship with her. She was always insulting and controlling and was “better” than everyone else. What a standard to l feel you have to live by! Not easy on her I’m sure. So as I’m trying to understand LOA than what I’m seeing is a mirror of me, or is it showing me not that I’m controlling but the ways that I’m mirroring insecurities and my sense of disempowerment? Is that why this contrast is in my life? Because I respond to this behavior in a way that makes me feel suppressed and shit down. It’s like dimming my light, which truly helps no one, especially not me! Are their ways I can change this gradually without confrontation about her behavior? Like being more comfortable with myself and my choices and being comfortable with someone’s criticism and anger, knowing that is about her and not truly me and my life choices or style.
Yes, this is about your own disempowerment. She’s challenging you to set boundaries, but in a way that’s comfortable for you. You don’t have to become a raging bitch. That being said, you will probably want to have some private anger releases to get that emotion out and be pulled back into empowerment. Then, practice finding the solution in each situation (you can do that in hindsight at first) that reflects what you really want. For example, maybe you wanted to just say no to something, but you were afraid to. Practice saying no in your mind, replay the scenario over and over again, while you say no instead of yes, until it’s more comfortable. Practice owning what you want, which begins with admitting it to yourself. Also practice having a confrontation about a rude tone of voice, for example. Or rude behavior, like not letting you speak, treating you like an idiot, criticizing you before you’ve even done something, etc. Again, the more you practice this, the easier it will be to actually do it in real life.
You’ve got this! It wouldn’t be coming up now if you weren’t able to release it. 🙂
Hey melody , really liked this video . This series made me realise so many behaviours I was inadvertently engaging in that actually were routed in fear. Especially the one you said – expecting things don’t go well and we are afraid we might be blamed for it – that’s very much pervasive in me and is reflected in each single walk of my life . The control that I exercise over people because I’m afraid they might go away from my life in fact has kept many many people away from me and this is especially true in case of friends as currently I don’t have a social life . Even my decision making pertaining to small daily things I realised was fear based and things not going well made me control my outside circumstances just to make me feel safe . I agree that sometimes when we are truly feeling insecure , physically moving to a safer place makes sense , but that can’t be replicated in almost every little thing or especially when you need to do it every single time when you get snapped at . How does this controlling behaviour relate to self ? Like just because someone at some point of time exercised control over me in some manner , I can see that doing it to myself in many situations , although that person is no longer with me in those situations. I can see repeating that same behaviour by me towards myself just as he did to me , and then I get fucked up as I’m unable to carry out my task and then go into despair . This self sabotaging cycle also breeds controlling behaviour towards others as you tend to see them as walls blocking your way to feeling better and then you try to control them or try to eliminate them from your surroundings so that you can feel safe to feel good . Also, layer when you are done with this you realise what you have done in the process and then the “why” cycle starts – as in why did I do this , what was I feeling at that point of time , what made me do this ? What did I do or feel earlier that triggered this ? And what is the reason for this etc- at the end , after a little insight , things again turn dark and complacency sets in . Your take on this ?
First of all, start practicing compassion and kindness for yourself. You’re engaging in learned behavior that you’re only now becoming aware of. Stop beating up on yourself. Pretend that you’re talking to someone you truly love (grandma, really close friend, a small child…), and say everything to yourself the way you’d say it to them. This will already help a lot and will already make you feel more validated, approved of and safe. Because really, it’s only YOU that needs to approve of you. Everyone else is irrelevant. And they can only ever mirror back to you what your own inner dialogue is. Here’s a video that should help you: https://happyshinypuppy.com/2011/12/13/how-to-love-yourself/
What if you’re on the other side of this & being the one talked over, told you’re doing it wrong, etc?
Then it’s a question of setting boundaries. I linked to a blog post on boundary setting in the post above. You can see it here: https://happyshinypuppy.com/2015/06/11/when-to-set-boundaries-and-when-to-walk-away/.
I don’t know how your posts always come at exactly the right time, Melody.
I’m still trying to sort through this a bit though. It’s been SUCH a crazy journey.
Long story short, I got my haircut and I trusted the hair person and they gave me basically the opposite of what I wanted and then charged me double for it! And I was so annoyed, but I didn’t even know I was annoyed until I left because I was rushed out, and didn’t even have time to process it right away.
So then I focus on, what do I want instead? I want my expectations managed. And then I think about these people I’m working on a music project with and how I appreciate they tell me what’s going to happen and the cost — and they’re true to that. So I tell them all the things I appreciate about them in a nice email. And they’re happy and I’m happy.
And then a week later, those people aren’t getting anything they say they’re going to when they say they will. They keep moving dates and rescheduling. And then I rememeber all the other times they rescheduled but I forgave them for because they said it was a one-off situation. So now I need to find new people to work with.
(And in a turn of events, now the hair person is willing to fix my hair and give me a refund.)
Anyway, the whole thing has been super weird. I think I was in a situation where I thought I was being controlling, but now when I think on it, it’s more about people respecting my time and being honest and doing what they say they will. It’s true that I need to give people the benefit of the doubt, but after they show you enough times who they are, you have to trust that too and know you can find people who will be true to their word. Sometimes people changing in your reality means finding new people.
This wasn’t about you being controlling, except for maybe a fear of being controlling. This was about you getting more comfortable setting boundaries. Standing up for ourselves doesn’t have to come off as controlling. Controlling is: “You need to change. And you should be ashamed for being the way you are in the first place. Because you’re wrong.”
Boundaries are more like: “You don’t have to play with me. But if you choose to, THIS is not ok. I need/want THAT. Again, you’re not wrong, or a bad person, but these are the preferences/rules in my playground.”
There’s less judgment in it. It’s about what you want and your preference, and what you’re willing to put up with. And then simply letting them make the choice of whether or not they want to play like that. And if they don’t, that’s ok. But what’s not ok is saying that they will and then not doing it. That’s a deal breaker. It’s not controlling. It’s having standards and self-respect.
Hope that helps!
I just saw your comment. I came back to revise/reply to my own post. But yeah! You’re right. I realized if I want people to manage my expectations — I have to be the one to do the work and manage theirs. In other words, I have to say, this is what I expect/these are my boundaries. And I wasn’t doing that. Then I was getting mad at people for not doing it for me.
I feel guided by the universe. Like I thought I had to dump people for screwing up, and there’s like a force field making me do/not do things. Like I can feel the boundaries of my vibration. And it wouldn’t let me dump the people I thought were being disrespectful — I just needed to get better at communicating. Now things are awesome.