Control: Casey McGee, CPDT-KA, CSAT, CTC 

 March 14, 2019

Control is a sticky, tricky subject. To be called "controlling" is bad. Yet it's normal to want to exert some control over your life and circumstances. Where's the line? ​How do you know when you are trying to control too much? Can you tell when you're straying over the line into wanting to control something that you don't have the ​ability--or right--to control?

I invited Casey McGee, owner of Upward Hound Dog Training and administrator of the Academy for Dog Trainers, to talk with me about control.

Casey McGee with Rocco

Before she became a dog trainer, Casey ran court-ordered groups for men convicted of felony or misdemeanor battery. ​As she describes it, control is "a means to an end that I feel entitled to." 

It's the entitlement piece that can trip you up. It implies a very clear definition of a desired outcome, one you really want to hold onto.

What will you do to get it/keep it? What permission will you give yourself to achieve it?

In the case of abusive spouses, ​they ​feel entitled to control their partner's behavior. 

In dog training​, there are trainers who use heavy-handed techniques because they "need to ​know the dog will always do it right."

Willingness to use pain, intimidation, or fear changes us internally. (Check out the Tea Consent video for a simple analogy about how and when to back off.)

​Abusive partners and force-based trainers are more extreme examples of control. Smaller ​instances crop up in your day-to-day life.

​Have you ever worked for a micromanager? Met a person who needs to have everything just so? Dealt with a client who made unreasonable demands? Control, control, control.

​Perhaps there are a few areas in your life where you are attempting to control things that are out of your control.

The truth is, you don't have nearly as much control as you might like, but learning to use it wisely will lead to greater peace of mind and better outcomes.

Puzzle image of things you can control

If you think that you are teetering on the edge of being "controlling" in certain areas of your life, learning to hear your judgments and reframe your thoughts is a great way to turn things around.

​If you cross the line into behavior you don't like, ask yourself, "​What made me think it was okay to do that?" That will help you identify the entitlement piece of the puzzle.

From there, identify ​an alternative behavior and practice it!

And the flip side of this is, if you find yourself dealing with a person who is trying to exert control over you in safe but annoying ways, carefully consider your options and establish boundaries. The UNLEASHED Resilience community can help with that. Small changes in how you respond can make a big difference.

(Note: If you are in danger from an abusive person, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline​ online or at 1-800-799-7233. Help is available.)

Enjoyed the discussion on control? Be sure to check out​the episode on play with Rise VanFleet! (And you'll also love this older episode on consent with Leslie Stewart, but be aware, this one is ​from before my business was focused exclusively on pet professionals so the language is more vague.)

This post may contain affiliate links. When you click them, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products and services that my guests or I have used or have experience with.

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In Positive Changes, I guide small groups of pet pros through the skills, tools, and support systems necessary to feel rejuvenated, reignite their passion, and do the work they're meant to do.


UNLEASHED Resilience is a learning community made up of pet pros like you exploring and incorporating new ways to understand and support yourself to feel stronger and more capable professionally and personally. 

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