Price for Emotional Over-Control


but all it gets me is more trouble!

Previous: Cost of O-C #7

See Acronym PAGE for abbrev.


Obedience is the willingness to follow commands, orders & instructions without question, because they come from a legitimate authority which is believe in. The rules are presented as ‘necessary for the common good’ – usually to uphold the social order.
It requires the person to give up control to another, supposedly for their own benefit, such as protecting children from the dangers of damaging situations

The rationale for promoting obedience in the young, is that at some point, with maturity, the training is transformed into self-control – becoming inner-motivated. This internalization happens whether the training is positive or negative.

When a child is subjected to a coercive (controlling) environment, as most ACoAs were, what they absorb & give obedience to are Toxic Rules, which force then to deny / discard the very parts of themselves needed to become autonomous. So as adults, ACoAs still function as  symbiotic extensions of the family, instead of being motivated by our True Self.

Appropriate Self-Control is the opposite of obedience – because motivation to act is located inside rather than outside the Self
— It represents having absorbed the rules of family & society, (mainly beneficial), but only to the degree they fit our personality & ethics
— It requires enough S & I from our family of origin to be able to think for ourselves, deciding daily what works for us & what doesn’t

From the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders: The term ‘self-management’ has replaced ‘self-control’ because self-control implies changing behavior through sheer willpower.
Self-management, on the other hand, is being aware of what causes an undesirable behavior, & consciously deals with that cause, to correct / improve it ( ie: making autonomous choices)

RESULTS of Over-Control (OC)
This list is specifically related to ACoAs who are very shut down. The Lost Child Role is the most obvious version, so O-C that they’re mute & feels invisible.
They still feel the need to protect themselves in such an extreme way, even when they’re no longer in physical or emotional danger.
👾 But since this coping mechanism is about negating the True Self, even those in the Hero Role can find O-C hiding under all our accomplishments.

• assume that all future outcomes in our life will be as disappointing & hurtful as they always have been. We never relax & have fun!
• don’t know when something’s too much for us, because without internal balance we end up exhausted, burned out, & often develop a chronic illness
• don’t trust our own thoughts & intuition, so keep make the same mistakes, like trusting the wrong people
OC hiding
• keep our emotions hidden, are so defensive or become social isolates – that it’s very hard to have mature adult relationships
• only notice & focus on the rejecting things in our environment, reinforcing the paranoia & depression we carry from the past
• stay in the one-down victim role, giving others too much power

• can’t understand other people’s responses to our persona (how we present ourselves) or why they treat us so ‘badly’
• are over-sensitive to being scorned or ignored by avoiding or rejecting everyone…..
• ….. YET, are always looking to others to validate us, give us permission, solve our problems, tell us what to think or do

• are attacked by others for our seeming lack of:
caring, communication, emotional awareness, openness, responsiveness, sharing, support or signs acting wierdof warmth.
It’s not that we’re incapable of those qualities, but that we’re afraid of caring too much & being taken advantage of.

Our verbal & emotional unavailability makes ‘present’ people uncomfortable  around us (who are more active, talkative & emotionally open).
Some can get frustrated & angry – subjecting us to disdain, being blamed for problems not our fault, have our intentions be misjudged & misunderstood, even be labeled ‘sick’ / crazy

• don’t understand office politics – so ‘disdainful’ about it as if it’s beneath us, that we won’t even learn the rules, leaving us marginalized & easily victimized

• may be too anxious to work for anyone else, not wanting to take direction or be under someone’s thumb. Growing up with chaos & abuse gave us an intense fear of authority figures, & need to control everything, at all times
OC at work• ignore or sidestep difficult task / projects, not having learned problem-solving skills, & are afraid to show our ignorance by asking for help. This can boomerang, making bosses & co-workers angry

• have a deep aversion to conflict, disapproval & taking risks. Lacking social competence, we get overwhelmed when faced with difficult office personalities.
Our silence in uncomfortable situations can aggravate others who want to talk about or fight things out, the very thing we’re trying to prevent.

NEXT: Backlash of O-C – #1

2 thoughts on “Price for Emotional Over-Control

  1. Hi Donna! Been a while.

    Thank you for the work you continue to do. Since adopting a level of understanding of the Inner Child model, it has been very helpful in me seeing how some of my outlooks and behaviours were formed and how to deal with them now.

    In addition, I have been able to recognize certain weaknesses in others as manifestations of their own wounded inner child. Viewing matters in this light continues to have a lot of meaning and has helped me to be more patient and effective in dealing with self and others.

    From your most recent post, although it is not the main topic of your post, a sentance that really resonates to me is, “Everyone is born with our own style of emotional reactivity but environmental experiences also effect brain chemistry, modifying the outcome. How we ultimately react to life as adults will depend on this combination”.

    On this basis, it makes even less sense to compare ourselves to others. I find this is a habit I am continuing to work my way out of. It has certainly got better over the years and continues to improve.

    The mere fact that we start out as unique individuals, then are further moulded and conditioned to the level of brain chemistry by our environments, particularly in our younger years amidst our families of origin, really shakes things up even further to the point where it is entirely valid to say that no two of us are alike.

    We all process differently based on two relatively random variables of basic makeup and environmental experiences.

    There are indeed broad similarities between many of us with similar experiences… such as us ACOAs. For example, most of us experienced a degree of unpredictability due to our alcoholic parent. Yet still, even though this factor was similar, we all processed it slightly differently so we all have a different result in who we have become and how we behave.

    Another part of your post that resonates is “we were deprived of the opportunity to learn healthy self-control – which requires a SELF to implement!”

    This so brings me back to young teen Chaz when the chaos and instability of my alcoholic father’s behaviour left me feeling completely alone, unsupported, and self-reliant. Now I am careful to not step into self pity with this observation. It is just a fact and a memory. I was horrified of life. My emotions felt like they ran wild so I did whatever I could to keep them at bay. But how could I? I had no effective strategies. Just grit and determination… which wasn’t the right approach. So I became an emotional mess on the inside with a forced appearance of control.

    I can even recall someone, who’s opinion I valued, tell me that he felt I was the most even-tempered people he ever knew. What? Did I really fool him? And then subsequenlty myself? What he was seeing was probably the over-control you discuss. I held it together by a thread but most people couldnt tell.

    Then, when I reached a point of maximum error…. BOOM! And when the lid blew off of the fascade of over-control, where did I go? … to the bottle that I thought I despised, yet was so familiar through its ever-presence in my upbringing. What a cocktail of disasterous ingredients!

    So glad it blew up with such magnitude that there was nothing left to return to. Meaning the whole set of coping mechanisms blew up so painfully and dramatically, that there was no denying that that was not the way to think, live, behave, and feel. I HAD TO find something different… and gladly I did.

    So I find great meaing in your writing. It really helps me recognize and understand a lot of the things that have happened.

    Look forward to staying in touch.




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