Paranoid (& ultra diligent) with verbal/written contracts, because surely everyone's out to get you?

I know logically people aren't out to "get me," but I seem to get very triggered when it comes to things like employment/rental contracts and verbal or written agreements... somehow I feel like people are trying to take advantage of me. I get very focused on reading the fine print and contesting any little thing, and trying to proactively plan for all the various scenarios in which I could get screwed.
The one time I let my partner take the lead on a rental contract, he overlooked something (and we were stuck with a *not great* deal). It wasn't even that terrible. But it was avoidable. So it gave me a reinforced feeling that "yes, people are out to get me" and "yes, I should never yield control or delegate these things to others who are less diligent than me".
I know how unreasonable this sounds, and I always dread the anxiety, panic, stress,... not to mention all the frustration I direct at myself. But I can't help it. Is it just me? And will it ever go away? My PTSD isn't even related to housing/career/contracts - it's from childhood abuse. So to me it doesn't make sense that I get so caught up in this.
 

Friday

Moderator
My PTSD isn't even related to housing/career/contracts - it's from childhood abuse. So to me it doesn't make sense that I get so caught up in this.
To me it makes perfect sense; becoming a control freak in response life threatening consequences whilst out of control &/or helpless.

Ditto holding the core belief(s) that others are incompetent &/or out to take advantage &/or not to be trusted… along with umpteen cognitive distortions feeding into & propping up those core beliefs.

Double Ditto trust issues in spades; distrusting both others intent & capabilities, as well as my own ability to handle such an eventuality, full stop -or- my ability to handle such an eventuality if I’m surprised by it.

But then I happen to be a card carrying member of the control freaks club, my own self.

((Can’t we find a better word than “club”? Something a little more lofty, or refined? Something with a bit of gravitas, or swagger, or zjujh attached? Is a little oomph too much to ask for? I mean, really, “club”? O.o What are we, building treehouses, with signs declaring no girls allowed? WTFO <<< See??? Snort. Even in my own joke-not-joking I want to break it down and rework it.))

I know how unreasonable this sounds, and I always dread the anxiety, panic, stress,... not to mention all the frustration I direct at myself. But I can't help it. Is it just me? And will it ever go away?
IME nothing I believe I can’t help will ever even alter, much less go away.

So, personally, I sit myself down (as well as keeping a running tally as I’m going about my life) & decide/work out
1 - What I do like
2 - What I don’t like
3 - What I get out of either/both (no matter how politically incorrect what I “get” out of it, may be).
4 - Other ways to meet those needs/wants/desires/gets
5 - Strengths & Weaknesses of both what I do & don’t like
6 - Ways to accentuate the strengths and minimize the weaknesses

And then I start subbing those other ways for the pieces I don’t like, whilst accentuating the strengths, & working around the weaknesses.

So, for example, one of the things I don’t like about being a control freak is how that CAN affect the self-confidence of those around me, particularly children, but also anyone in close proximity to me (lovers, colleagues, etc.). So, by employing one of the strengths of control freakishness? I can turn that problem around like a rubix cube, chasing down all the cause & effect, and FIX it. 😎

You’re doing it wrong, it should be like this piece over here -vs- HELL YEAH! That’s awesome!!! You really know how to bring it. Oomph this piece over here up just like that one. I am loving your instincts on this! Go wild. Mwah! I am so glad YOU are the one that’s on this!

Same durn f*cked-up half-assed thing I’m looking at, with half of it up to snuff and the other half not. Still me, being a control freak. ALSO still me being completely honest. This piece rocks, that piece sucks. But wildly different emotional experiences for both of us, in both versions, and equally different “training” …for both of us. It’s wild, but the more I build others up? The less I tear myself down. Because I’m not training myself to only see what’s wrong, and trust even less… but to see both pieces (right & wrong) and by accentuating their strengths? I’m not only minimizing my own weaknesses, but developing an ally I can actually be really confident in.

It’s quirky, and kind of awesome. And also requires exactly zero of BOOM! I tend to bring when I’m excited. As I’ve known countless personalities who have the same durn enthusiasm all calm/quiet/strong. But it still oozes out of them… how much they appreciate what you’re good at.

I can literally list out hundreds of these kinds of things, that all circle back to my trust issues & control freak tendencies. Because I have. Sometimes in groups, sometimes just as they come up & annoy me, or impact my relationships, or rob me of my happy.

So I’ll just do one more 😉 On your paperwork issue.

LAWYER.

If you aren’t one, or don’t want to be one? Rest assured, lawyers -as a species- will love and adore you. Because what’s currently a weakness in your life (going over contacts, and ascertaining both their correctness and implications in the short/long term) is a strength when put to good use, like the study/practice of the law. No terror/panic attached. Which doesn’t mean you “should” become a lawyer, but that what’s currently a weakness in your life? Can -by several different methods- not only become a strength, but also shapeshift in the process of putting it to good use. Which is an innately different thing than justifying/excusing (which just lets that thing run rough shod over you, your life, your relationships). Find a good use for it. Accentuate the strengths.
 
In all fairness, I seriously did consider going into law. But the fact is, the more I put myself in situations where I can fuss over a contract or documents, the worse I get. It's probably why I get super avoidant about doing admin/administrative tasks. (I know how draining it gets because I obsess so hard, so my only way to cope is to push it off or procrastinate as much as possible).

Like - it's debilitating sometimes. And it's not always about important things either! I recently procrastinated on downloading a note-taking app on my ipad because I didn't know which app was less "out to get me" -- the one-time payment app that had fewer features, or the subscription model one that seem to have lots of features but obviously is more expensive in the long run. I mean...WHAT is wrong with me. It's soooo odd! It took up mental real estate for 2 weeks. Sometimes I think about how many useful things I could do with my time if I didn't get so caught up in figuring out who or what will screw me over (in big or tiny ways).
 

NoWhereKnowWhere

MyPTSD Pro
I genuinely believe that corporations are out to get you. I used to believe that people were generally good just trying their best for themselves and their families as well as their neighbours and the world. It’s a bell curve of course some people are shitty but generally I thought people were good. Then March 2020 happened and I don’t believe that anymore.

The other option that I’ve come up with is radical acceptance with a healthy amount of distrust. Like the notes app for example I’d be worried about my personal security and probably check what information the app collects. But what’s the point the social media and probably the manufacturer of the devices already have and sell that information.

As well as reframing people = shit bags. People can shit bag all they want but I’m not going to stop contributing to mutual aid funds “just in case” they’re screwing me over. If they are that’s their look out it says more about them then me. With contracts especially insurance I find having had to deal with those arse wipes. They’re going to f*ck you they’ll do everything in their power not to pay out. Dot your i cross your t they’ll probably find a way no matter what. We don’t live in an equitable society and businesses have far too much power and very little oversight. Capitalism is a hell. 🤷🏻 What you gonna do. It is what it is.

This probably wasn’t helpful and maybe harmful if so please disregard. I’m just a nutter on the internet.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I know how unreasonable this sounds
I actually don't think it's unreasonable at all. I do the very same thing--read everything completely before signing anything and refuse to sign unless some things are addressed. While companies may not set out to take advantage of patrons, they absolutely do, and the contract or forms they require you to fill out facilitate that.

My biggest concerns are in healthcare, and around here it is normal for practitioners to refuse to allow you to read the consent forms before signing. I suspect there is a reason for that (in addition to the fact that it takes time). If you haven't read a consent form, you should. Everyone should. By signing, you are consenting to a whole LOT of stuff you would never normally would. The fact that so few people read contracts is way more a problem than those of us who actually do. I don't see this as being freakishly controlling at all. Companies use contracts to make sure you can't sue them--and, esp. in healthcare, so they can cover their butts if something happens (or if you just decide you don't like something)--so they are going to put all sort of things in them. A signature on a consent form means they don't HAVE to inform you of much of anything. Is it good and ethical practice? Sure, but that means nothing if they don't want you to know. I once tried to write on a consent form that I was giving ONLY informed consent, and the doctor wouldn't see me.

It's the same with privacy rules, but that's a whole 'nother story.
 

coraxxx

Sponsor
I come from a family of lawyers so what you're describing as being control freak? Just perfectly normal and reasonable. It's procedure.

Now it becomes debilitating when procedure gets into disproportion or becomes a pretext to be avoidant of something else. Personally, being attentive to the fine print really did help me to understand and navigate administration, for myself and also against abusers. Landlord wants to chuck you out because they don't like you? Bro, here are my rights, here's the tenancy agreement, clause thingie is illicit, f*ck you and thank you very much.

It's not so much that contracts are something that are made to f*ck you over, a contract is the last resort that will be used when something doesn't go as you wish or there is a conflict. Of course there are things as contrats léonins (lion's contracts) where the contractor has leverage on the contractant and basically even if you don't like it, you have to sign it because you're in need or can't refuse for whatever reason that isn't explicit in the contract. This also normally is forbidden by law but here you go with lawyers and long trials and sometimes it's better to cut your losses. Some actors do know that and they know most people cannot afford the effort to correct injustices of the sort.

Lawyers will often recommend you to let go of something or find an arrangement instead of trying to get to justice. Because then you'll have all the machine of procedure and the magic of language and interpretation, jurisprudence, knowing the judges and eventually prosecutors well and yada yada. I do agree with @whiteraven that reading consent forms should be something that is more pushed by the bodies that require your consent. Sometimes, taking a service in itself is consenting; but it's required by law that you have access to the knowledge of what you're consenting to. So if you want to piss everyone and take your time for your fine print, it's their problem.

As much as contracts can act as not being in favour to you, they're also something that can protect you in many cases. It's not just one direction.

Now what you might want to find out is how to know if something is worth all the worry and attention or not. Reading a tenancy agreement in detail? Something that requires your engagement for a while? Certainly worth reading.

And, you know, the quantity of people I've seen arriving at the lawyer because they got married without thinking that one day they'll might divorce and hate each other to their guts, it's just infinite. And then justice and ambiguity in contracts become instruments of something worse than just the divorce. Not only with divorces but if families weren't tired to have disagreements the profession would be dead since a long time. So, for the week or month or so that you would have taken with your future husband or wife arguing about what you'd find acceptable in a divorce or not, worth years of distress + eventual money thrown up arguing afterwards. It's not pleasant because indeed you have to consider worst case scenarios, contracts are made for this. But in the case of your worst case scenario it really can help to have things well-defined, well-boundaried, well-made and agreed on right from the beginning.

If someone starts pressuring you to sign anything and tries to tell you that you should trust them blindly? That's not just a red flag, it's the entire USSR chanting. It's not the same as someone complaining that you take a thousand years doing it so. I did irritate many of my friends by reading the fine prints but hey, when they had an issue guess who they come see to get a refund or advice.

So I guess the idea behind really isn't about whether you are a control freak or a bit tight on procedures, it's about the idea behind that people or companies are there to get to you. On this, I think that initially most people do operate trying to do okay but once they get embroiled in the complexity of things what is best for them isn't necessarily the best for you, and people and companies might care or not for how it's gonna affect you vs. their own interest. On this I'm just neutral/cynical. It will depend on the actor, and there is a point where interests simply don't or won't converge, and this is why we have contracts and boundaries. It's not good or bad, it doesn't mean that people around you are flat out immoral or ill-intentioned but you don't need to be evil to create a lot of problems. I just try to remain aware of this.

Also having basic routines of reading contracts will avoid most of the scams.

Red flags are:
- requiring huge speed of decision
- pressuring to sign without reading
- constantly reminding of the advantages
- promoting changes or rearrangements without being explicit about what it entails
- avoiding any possible disagreement and dodging questions about what happens if said disagreement happens
- requiring data they won't give themselves
- looking to good to be true
- not willing to give the details of the contract or define terms clearly
- …

And the above can happen with people as well as with companies.

A bank that suddenly suggests that you change your investment pattern? What's their interest in doing it so? Is that interest aligned with yours? What are your options if/when your interests don't align anymore? It could very much be a win-win as well as being just the new policy of the bank trying to enrol more people for reasons that aren't even necessarily bad, but might simply be the bad choice. I'm not even assuming that it could be a large-scale scam (which does happen btw), but simply scanning for these things is important.

Then there is also the force factor which is, are you capable of enforcing your rights even when it's the other that is breaching the contract. Err, an entire other domain, and there you have to navigate with a trust compass. And again, anything that requires you to give something before getting something, no matter what paper they did sign, if they disappear with your money they disappear with your money. But generally these things can be avoided by behaving always with the same checks and in the same ways and having a few things that you simply never do because it would be a risk. If the other party doesn't want to understand your boundaries, major red flag.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
Red flags are:
- requiring huge speed of decision
- pressuring to sign without reading
- constantly reminding of the advantages
- promoting changes or rearrangements without being explicit about what it entails
- avoiding any possible disagreement and dodging questions about what happens if said disagreement happens
- requiring data they won't give themselves
- looking to good to be true
- not willing to give the details of the contract or define terms clearly
This is every single healthcare consent and person asking for it that I've come in contact with over several decades.
 
I come from a family of lawyers so what you're describing as being control freak? Just perfectly normal and reasonable. It's procedure.

Now it becomes debilitating when procedure gets into disproportion or becomes a pretext to be avoidant of something else. Personally, being attentive to the fine print really did help me to understand and navigate administration, for myself and also against abusers. Landlord wants to chuck you out because they don't like you? Bro, here are my rights, here's the tenancy agreement, clause thingie is illicit, f*ck you and thank you very much.

It's not so much that contracts are something that are made to f*ck you over, a contract is the last resort that will be used when something doesn't go as you wish or there is a conflict. Of course there are things as contrats léonins (lion's contracts) where the contractor has leverage on the contractant and basically even if you don't like it, you have to sign it because you're in need or can't refuse for whatever reason that isn't explicit in the contract. This also normally is forbidden by law but here you go with lawyers and long trials and sometimes it's better to cut your losses. Some actors do know that and they know most people cannot afford the effort to correct injustices of the sort.

Lawyers will often recommend you to let go of something or find an arrangement instead of trying to get to justice. Because then you'll have all the machine of procedure and the magic of language and interpretation, jurisprudence, knowing the judges and eventually prosecutors well and yada yada. I do agree with @whiteraven that reading consent forms should be something that is more pushed by the bodies that require your consent. Sometimes, taking a service in itself is consenting; but it's required by law that you have access to the knowledge of what you're consenting to. So if you want to piss everyone and take your time for your fine print, it's their problem.

As much as contracts can act as not being in favour to you, they're also something that can protect you in many cases. It's not just one direction.

Now what you might want to find out is how to know if something is worth all the worry and attention or not. Reading a tenancy agreement in detail? Something that requires your engagement for a while? Certainly worth reading.

And, you know, the quantity of people I've seen arriving at the lawyer because they got married without thinking that one day they'll might divorce and hate each other to their guts, it's just infinite. And then justice and ambiguity in contracts become instruments of something worse than just the divorce. Not only with divorces but if families weren't tired to have disagreements the profession would be dead since a long time. So, for the week or month or so that you would have taken with your future husband or wife arguing about what you'd find acceptable in a divorce or not, worth years of distress + eventual money thrown up arguing afterwards. It's not pleasant because indeed you have to consider worst case scenarios, contracts are made for this. But in the case of your worst case scenario it really can help to have things well-defined, well-boundaried, well-made and agreed on right from the beginning.

If someone starts pressuring you to sign anything and tries to tell you that you should trust them blindly? That's not just a red flag, it's the entire USSR chanting. It's not the same as someone complaining that you take a thousand years doing it so. I did irritate many of my friends by reading the fine prints but hey, when they had an issue guess who they come see to get a refund or advice.

So I guess the idea behind really isn't about whether you are a control freak or a bit tight on procedures, it's about the idea behind that people or companies are there to get to you. On this, I think that initially most people do operate trying to do okay but once they get embroiled in the complexity of things what is best for them isn't necessarily the best for you, and people and companies might care or not for how it's gonna affect you vs. their own interest. On this I'm just neutral/cynical. It will depend on the actor, and there is a point where interests simply don't or won't converge, and this is why we have contracts and boundaries. It's not good or bad, it doesn't mean that people around you are flat out immoral or ill-intentioned but you don't need to be evil to create a lot of problems. I just try to remain aware of this.

Also having basic routines of reading contracts will avoid most of the scams.

Red flags are:
- requiring huge speed of decision
- pressuring to sign without reading
- constantly reminding of the advantages
- promoting changes or rearrangements without being explicit about what it entails
- avoiding any possible disagreement and dodging questions about what happens if said disagreement happens
- requiring data they won't give themselves
- looking to good to be true
- not willing to give the details of the contract or define terms clearly
- …

And the above can happen with people as well as with companies.

A bank that suddenly suggests that you change your investment pattern? What's their interest in doing it so? Is that interest aligned with yours? What are your options if/when your interests don't align anymore? It could very much be a win-win as well as being just the new policy of the bank trying to enrol more people for reasons that aren't even necessarily bad, but might simply be the bad choice. I'm not even assuming that it could be a large-scale scam (which does happen btw), but simply scanning for these things is important.

Then there is also the force factor which is, are you capable of enforcing your rights even when it's the other that is breaching the contract. Err, an entire other domain, and there you have to navigate with a trust compass. And again, anything that requires you to give something before getting something, no matter what paper they did sign, if they disappear with your money they disappear with your money. But generally these things can be avoided by behaving always with the same checks and in the same ways and having a few things that you simply never do because it would be a risk. If the other party doesn't want to understand your boundaries, major red flag.
Thanks for sharing this - I read it over a few times and I'm also really liking the list of red flags. I wish I had the mental capacity these days to respond more comprehensively, but I don't (emdr is kicking my butt!) Hopefully I'll revisit this message again and I can share a proper, well-rounded response. Just wanted to send a thanks. I like your input, and I'm reminded that our coping strategies can sometimes be helpful and constructive.
 
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