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In my conversations with people who defined themselves as ‘controlling’ or ‘recovering from controlling habits’, i came to realize that controlling behaviours are not what we can recover from; controlling behaviours are expressions of what one gives value to. Controlling behaviours are indications of how one positions himself in relationship. Controlling behaviours are expressions of misuse of power, pursuit of single ‘truth’, and a need for certainty.

To me, relationship defines two people; relationship is a great container for two people to relate to one another. When two parties don’t give value to their relationship that holds them, they are more likely driven by behaviours that self- interested and self-centered; behaviours that are not relationship- centered.

We live in a society that promotes individualistic values and that prescribes self- centered ideologies in life. Individualistic values tend to allow individuals to stay focused on and take care of their own benefits when they are in relationship. This tendency to safeguard one’s own interests, only, is the reason for the presence of controlling behaviours in relationship.

The individualistic culture allows controlling behaviours to exist in relationship and supports individuals to exercise their power over another one.   Consequently, what happens is that relationship suffers and individuals feel disconnected from one another and individuals go in a separate way.

The alternative idea to have relational approach; to think relationally, to privilege the benefits of being part of relationship and to act/ respond relationally to support  one’s relationship with one another.  Relational responses allow individuals to take care of their relational interests instead of falling into a power struggle pattern and exhibiting controlling behaviours in relationship.

Happy Possibilities!

Tahereh Barati, M.A, RMFT

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