Control, like many things we experience in our lives, comes on a spectrum from levels of healthy to unhealthy. Things in our lives require control, such as control of:

  • Our Emotions
  • Our Work/Life Balance
  • Our Appetite and Food Portioning
  • Our Exposure to TV
  • Our Phone Time
  • Our Time on Social Media
  • Our Finances
  • Our Daily Impulses (such as how fast we drive, etc.)

However, we can also get carried away with control, and find ourselves at unhealthy levels. This includes when control of our day-to-day needs becomes detrimental to ourselves or others; or, when we attempt to control others behavior and feelings.

Control & Trauma

When we experience trauma, our emotional and behavioral response patterns are often impacted. At The Bridge to Recovery, we have found that many of our clients express frustration with feelings of either (1) complete lack of control over things in their lives, or (2) a compulsive need to try and control everything and everyone around them. 

Control is yet another branch on our trauma tree. When we carry pain around from unresolved trauma, we react in such a way that we can survive. Massive and polarizing feelings related to control are part of our often-impacted emotional and behavioral response development.

Caretaking & Control

We have found that often, caretaking and control go hand-in-hand. Caretaking can often mimic similar feelings and behaviors evoked with control.

Caretaking, as a symptom of trauma, involves a compulsive desire to help others with their feelings, wants, and needs, but often at the detriment of the caretaker and the person being helped. This can be seen as a form of control, either by feeling a lack of control, thus the compulsive need to try and help others; or, a need-to-control, and to do so involves caretaking others. 

When Being a Caretaker Goes Wrong

Many folks hear the term “caretaker” and associate it with taking care of a friend, loved one, or patient in their time of need, such as when they are sick or grieving a loss. Caretakers as defined this way are a necessary component of society.

When does this become problematic?

  • If the caretaker begins putting the needs of the person being cared for ahead of their own emotional or physical wellbeing.
  • If the caretaker begins to manipulate the person being cared for.
  • If the relationship becomes toxic or unhealthy.
  • If the person being cared for is abusive toward the caretaker.
  • If the caretaker becomes abusive toward the person being cared for.
  • When the behaviors necessary to care for that one individual actually in need extends to others not in need, but the desire and compulsive need to help transcends.
  • If the caretaker begins to experience compassion fatigue but lacks the appropriate boundaries to withdraw themselves or transfer care to another person/entity. 
  • The caretaker ignores the actual feelings, wants, and needs of the person being cared for and instead cares for the person in a way that meets their own needs. 

When any of these factors are present, it is time to take a step back and, for the caretaker, to visit what lies beneath the surface of their own story that nurtured this type of situation. 

It’s not a matter of blame, it’s a matter of shame.

As we discussed in the section Understanding Trauma, there is nothing “wrong” with the caretaker or the person being cared for. When we find ourselves in these types of unhealthy situations, it’s a matter of uncovering unresolved pain and shame, typically caused by untreated trauma.  

This is where The Bridge to Recovery can help. Anyone struggling with control and caretaking is likely struggling with other symptoms of unresolved trauma, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger & Rage
  • Chronic Unhappiness
  • Relapse

Healing is possible. Happiness is possible. Call us today to learn more about how we can help.