Are You Secretly Controlling?


Are You Secretly Controlling?
We've all learned covert ways of getting others to do what we want them to do.

Most of us have learned some controlling behaviors that are not overtly obvious. For example, Sonia asked in one of my free webinars, "How can I help a man to share his fears of commitment with me without sounding like I am pressuring him?"

If I were working with Sonia, I would ask her to explore these questions: "Why do you want him to share? What is your agenda? What is your hope?"


If she were honest with herself, she might say, "I hope if he shares his fears with me, I can get him to see that they are unfounded, and then he can commit to me."

The irony here is that Sonia would be behaving in the very way that might trigger her boyfriend's fear of commitment — which is generally a fear of engulfment. Any attempts to control, even a covert attempt, will be felt energetically by the other person and may trigger their fear of losing themselves.

Sonia, the questions would be pressuring him. There are other, more above-board ways of dealing with this issue.

For example, you might say to him, "I know you have a fear of commitment, which is obviously concerning to me. What I need to know is if you are open to healing this fear or not. If you are, how would you go about healing it? If you are not, then I need to move on, since I want to be in a committed relationship."

What you are asking here is not why he is afraid of commitment, but if he is open to learning about and healing this fear. If he isn't, as hard as it might be for you, if you want to be in a committed relationship, you would need to move on.

Fears of rejection or engulfment do not heal by themselves. Underneath the fear of commitment is generally the fear of engulfment, and under the fear of engulfment is the fear of rejection. These are deep fears. They do not heal until a person does enough inner bonding work to develop a strong, loving, adult self who is willing to lose the other person rather than lose themselves.

It takes a lot of inner work to reach a place where a person is no longer rejecting themselves, and therefore no longer fearful of rejection. Once the fear of rejection is healed, then the fear of engulfment gets healed. The person would no longer be available to giving themselves up to avoid rejection.

So the real issue is: Is he open to learning about healing his fears? Is he willing to learn and practice inner bonding, go into therapy and do the reading and learning that is necessary to heal? If he has old trauma, is he wiling to do some trauma therapy?

Sonia, if he is not open to learning and healing, it might be very hard for you to fully accept that he will not move beyond his fear of commitment. You might want to believe that, if only he would talk with you about it, there is something you can say or do that will change his mind. But this is a false belief. People do not change because of what someone else says. They change because they do their own inner healing work.

This is the central issue in all relationships: Are you and your partner open to learning about your own fears and resulting controlling behaviors? If not, then it is likely that the relationship will not work. However, if both of you are open to learning and healing, then there is a good chance that your relationship issues can be explored, healed and resolved.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-day at-home course: Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-day at-home relationships course: Loving Relationships: A 30-Day at-Home Experience with Dr. Margaret Paul.
For people who are partnered and people who want to be partnered.

To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with your partner and others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, receive free help, and take our 12-week home study eCourse, "The Intimate Relationship Toolbox." The first two weeks are free! Discover SelfQuest®, a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution computer program. Phone or Skype sessions with Dr. Margaret Paul.

Connect with Margaret on Facebook: Inner Bonding and Facebook: SelfQuest.

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission.

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Dr. Margaret Paul


Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process - featured on Oprah, and recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. Are you are ready to heal your pain and discover your joy? To begin to learn Inner Bonding, take our FREE Inner Bonding course. Visit our website at for more articles and help, as well as our Facebook Page. Phone and Skype sessions available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!

Location: Pacific Palisades, CA
Credentials: PhD
Specialties: Anxiety Issues, Couples/Marital Issues, Depression
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