can I control it? is it mine to control?

This is a topic that comes up in my work with clients a lot! As a Type 1 personality (The Reformer - the rational, idealistic type: principled, purposeful, self-controlled, and perfectionistic - more info here), this is something that I have also grappled with, and probably will until the day I shuffle off.

The Reformer is motivated by wanting to be right, striving higher and trying to improve everything, being consistent with their ideals (read opinionated with a tendency to be fairly fixed in their thinking), justifying themselves and being beyond criticism so as not to be condemned or judged by anyone.

This can be challenging when we’re talking just about ourselves, as balanced Reformers can be pretty damn effective, very motivated, discerning and make great leaders and change-makers. But what happens when this “Reforming” spills over into everyone else’s lives? When their perfectionism tendencies are brought to bear in judgement of others around them?

What about when their need to be right, for things to be ordered, to be the best and improve everything, turns into highly controlling behaviour? When they expend a ton of energy trying to control things that aren’t theirs to control? When friction is caused in relationships, because everyone else is expected to live up to their really high expectations, and constantly fall short?

We’re essentially describing much of my 30s here, so believe me when I say - if you’re reading this and nodding your head, you’re not alone! One way that I have found very helpful for both myself and clients, is spending some time getting really real with yourself and what you are trying to control. Controlling tendencies in and of themselves are not necessarily a bad thing, but when you are simply exhausted from trying to control all-the-damn-things, all-the-damn-time, it’s maybe an opportunity to see if you can let some of it go.

a practical tool

A really simple tool to help you take a look at this, is my “WHAT AM I TRYING TO CHANGE? CAN I CONTROL IT OR SHALL I LET IT GO?” table. This is so simple but incredibly effective, in seeing where we might be wasting our energy or impacting our personal relationships. The time and energy you can free up from using this tool and taking action on what you discover is massive.

The best place to start is with something that comes up a lot, is sapping a massive amount of energy, but is maybe not too controversial or that tackling it, isn’t likely to cause huge friction outside of yourself (you need to give yourself a fighting chance at success on your first go after all!).

Column 1 - In the first column, make some notes about the thing you are trying to control. Why is it that you feel the overwhelming need to control it? How does this thing make you feel either before you try to control it, or as a result of you doing so? How is life better as a result of you trying (or succeeding) in controlling it?

Column 2 - In the second column it’s time to reflect on who this thing belongs to. Is this thing yours to control? Can you directly control it or are you just involved or entangled in it in some way? It’s not a word I like to use very often but, should you be looking to control this thing, and is you doing so having a detrimental effect in your life or someone else’s? If you were to choose not to control it, what could you do instead (as the thing isn’t just going to go away, so ignoring it and hoping it will probably isn’t the answer)?

Please download this blank template to use as your own personal development tool. If you would like help with any aspect of the tool, including strategies for working with the insights you uncover, get in touch and book a free clarity call with me, I’d be delighted to help (no strings and no sales pitch at all).


What am I trying to control? Can I control it or, shall I let it go?


Like to know more about working with me?

I’m a Life & Leadership Coach that helps folks to belong to themselves. What that means is that I work with the 4 Pillars of Belonging to support my clients to build a home within themselves, and to live, love & lead, their way. Find out more below.