Controlling the Freak

By Fouad Alaa



BEING ANY type of control freak, even a less severe type, is a curse and a gift depending on how much you are aware of it and how much you accept it.


Here are some main characteristics of your average control freak:


  • We are very observant and therefore fully aware of our surrounding and setting most of the time. Being too aware leaves very little room for surprises or the unexpected, so it is so hard to actually enjoy the best out of a new activity since we are on alert mode.


  • We are mostly systematic and organised when it comes to processing information, even our chaotic internal thoughts. We plan well simply because our brain, even though chaotic in nature, can sort and simplify variables in any challenge, which makes schemes and plans easier to visualise.

The only downside is that we can’t stop doing that. When we work, we are workaholics. When we play, we are competitive. When we relax … no such thing, but the closest thing is we statically overthink. We crave relaxation but can never fully achieve it.



  • We have the type of low self-esteem that is associated with borderline narcissism.

Of course not every control freak has low self-esteem, but every control freak owns a little stock in the narcissism market. Taking charge comes naturally because whenever we are involved in a task, we automatically switch to alpha-mode.


  • Having the ability to control a situation comes with power, and with great power comes great responsibility.


Some control freaks are helpers, so they try to prove to others that they are worthy of the power that was given. Some are strivers, they want to prove to themselves and to others that they earned this power and deserve even more. In any case, power that we naturally claim pushes us to the stress that comes along with trying to prove ourselves.


Finally, when it comes to attention to detail, there are no alternatives. Nothing less than perfection would ever be pleasing to our eyes, because it is the only motivation that drives all our planning and effort.


So how did we become control freaks? Here’s something I figured out:


First, there are the independent control freaks; those who were kicked out of the nest unprepared or too early. They learned how to be independent by trial and error rather than guidance or relying on others.


Second are the dependent control freaks; those who were raised in a safe bubble but constantly being disappointed by their guardians. They eventually get over their abandonment issues by trying to constantly prove to themselves that they can do it on their own, even when help is offered.


Last but not least, are the OCD perfectionists. The “life/things just can’t be pretty unless I made it” type; they have a need to leave their mark over everything they have.


So how do you deal with being a control freak? The answer is very simple, let go!


And here is why: Our normal state is having more control on our behavior, image, and surroundings than normal people.


We don’t have the option of going out of control, even at our worst we can only touch that border but never cross it.


The only thing stopping us is the fear of losing control because we are too attached to our bubble; it’s just safer that way.


Personally, being in too much control of myself has got me to miss out on a lot of things.


A couple of years ago, I had never been to a camp, had a massage, sung in a karaoke bar, gone out for an unplanned wild night with friends and hated any kind of surprise or unplanned changes. Even in relationships, being in control sometimes caused more damage than good and ended up spoiling a lot of what could have been good memories.


For now, I have learned that in some battles, whether it is at work or interpersonal relationships, the right way to win is to lose. I am more clear and relaxed while having a balance between focusing on myself and focusing on what I want to achieve. I don’t go full on #YOLO, but I manage to understand that you only live once you stop being a control freak.


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