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Defensive Controlling
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Defensive Controlling

PR 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

When we are young and living in an environment that we feel is out of control for whatever reasons, we then begin to learn to try to control that environment through what I describe as "defensive controlling". Defensive controlling starts when we begin fearing that we will either be harmed, or denied our needs as children, and we believe that our parents will not defend or provide for us properly. Usually it is a controlling parent that is the main threat. It doesn't mean though that this situation is always valid, it just means that the child sees it that way.

Ways that we learn to defensively control are usually (but not limited to) the following:

1. We try to manipulatively lead people toward the choices we want them to make in order to make sure that our needs will be met. This way we are assured security and sufficiency.

2. We use appeasement and preemptive compliance. If we know that an angry controller will get upset, we will "pre-comply" with what they will want in order to keep them safe and nice.

3. We store up provisions to ensure that our needs will be met, and that we won't be unfairly denied by someone else taking them first. Many defensive controllers keep secret stashes.

4. We indirectly and secretly confront people since we greatly fear direct confrontation. The threat is usually blown way out of proportion, and we tend to overreact and be oversensitive.

5. We tend to be overly sensitive to any perceived rejection or disapproval, because we were always denied acceptance and approval as a child. We will usually retreat if feeling rejected.

6. We fear what we cannot control, so we try to control what we fear. But as long as we think we can control someone, then we do not see them as so much of a threat anymore.

7. We are more susceptible to what is known as the spirit of Jezebel where we work hard to be in control of any authority figure over us, and we use them to protect and provide for us.

DT 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Defensive controlling stems from a belief that we are "defenseless", and thus we become codependent to the primary controller that we fear. In other words, if you had an overly angry controlling parent, then they deny you all free will and teach you to only gratify their desires and needs, and to deny your own. Angry controllers teach you to not have any boundaries, to not express your needs or displeasure, and to only meet your needs with their approval first. You are trained not to trust in your choices, but to only trust in their choices for you.

Obviously the problem this creates is, we are likely to develop addictions to externally and indirectly be in control of our lives for us, just like the original controller was. Addictions do not really protect us or provide for our needs, they actually degrade our ability to protect and provide for ourselves, and do the opposite. That's why addiction is so dangerous, because it gives the false impression of helping us, when in reality it is doing so much more to hurt us, and we don't really realize just how serious this problem is until it has done a lot of damage.

LK 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Learning to "live and let live" will be absolutely critical to our recovery, because if we stay codependently attached to everyone around us and meeting their needs for them, then we will be pushed into an emotional and physical overload in no time and be running back to our old addictions for relief just like we used to. We must stop fearing life and people, and start trusting in God, and in His ability to be what we need. Even Jesus faced all kinds of threats and needs while He was here, but He trusted in God through each and every one of them.

In order to stop defensively controlling others we will need to begin to teach ourselves new skills that we should have learned as kids, but did not. This means setting boundaries with people, waiting for them to cross them (without trying to manipulate or control them before they do), and then directly confronting them without fear, and requiring them to treat you fairly. It means that we must learn to stop codependently appeasing everyone else in order to protect ourselves, and letting them meet their own needs, even if they fail or get upset.

PHP 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

You will need to learn to pray about things when you are afraid of being harmed or denied, rather than by trying to take control yourself. This will mean learning to just suffer through a perceived threat or deprival without resorting to old defensive control habits. You will learn in time that most of the threats and needs are endurable, and they are not as big as we think they are. A defenseless child perceives an abusive parent as a huge monster that cannot be stopped, so as an adult we are still expecting that monster to come attack us every time.

1PE 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Rather than slyly manipulating people to meet your needs, humble yourself before God and ask for His help. God will not be an angry controlling parent, and He will actually help you when you need Him. Learn to communicate, rather than to indirectly control, and do not feel guilty about letting your needs be known. Controller's teach kids to feel guilty when they ask for something, but God is just the opposite. Trust that God will help you to get free from your dysfunctional controlling behaviors, and to learn to trust Him to be in complete control.

JN 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.