When teaching about spiritual warfare, I would often tell my listeners that the only power the enemy has over us is the power we let him have. I have realized the same principle applies to people.
Many of us like to control others. It gives the controller a feeling of superiority, of importance. The control isn't always apparent. For instance, if a friend suggests a particular restaurant is good for a meal, it could be well-intentioned. However, if the friend suggests a restaurant every time you decide to eat out, overriding your suggestions, this isn't being well-intentioned; it is a clear indication that the friend is dominating, perhaps even without realizing it because she is quite a good person otherwise.
We can see similar things happening with other people, especially partners. They keep tabs on us, checking on our every move and insisting on being involved in our every activity. The more clever can mask this in the guise of love and concern, but let us recognize the signs when we see them.
Insecurity, low self-esteem, and high-functioning anxiety are the most common reasons why people want to control us, but allowing them to do so is hurtful to both them and us, so we need to take steps to stop it from happening. What can we do? Many things, but here are three to get you started.
One: communicate. Let the person know you believe they have a controlling attitude, and it troubles you. As I said earlier, sometimes people are not even aware they are doing it. The person might not be able to change immediately — insecurities are often deep-rooted — but you can find ways of helping the person through the process. Love is the key.
Two: learn to say no. Often, we tend to agree with a controlling person to keep the peace, but this ends up eating us on the inside, which isn't particularly healthy. So, feel free to disagree, although lovingly. We can solve anything and everything with love.
Three: don't debate. Debates turn into ego battles, and then it is hard to say who is trying to dominate whom. If the other person refuses to see reason, then agree to disagree and politely exit the conversation. If the person is exceptionally controlling, which means they get violent when they cannot have their way, you might want to consider exiting the relationship. Find a way to remain friends, if possible.
If *you* happen to be a dominating person, perhaps you need to seek help. And who better to turn to than Jesus, who will give you the sense of security and self-esteem you need, relieving you of your anxiety and the other reasons that make you want to control others.
May the Spirit be with you.