I've noticed a strong pattern in the lives of a lot of guys who I've been talking to lately who have had issues with self-confidence, especially around women: the combination of a dominant, controlling mother and a passive father. It's the disastrous duo for a boy's confidence growing into a man.
One of the unfortunate realities of life is that controlling women tend to attract passive men. So if you have a controlling mother, you're likely to also have ended up with a passive father as your primary male role model.
Controlling people attempt to dominate the people around them in order to assuage their own inner anxiety about the unpredictable nature of life. Confident, powerful men don't put up with this sort of behaviour: they assert themselves and if necessary walk away knowing that there are plenty of other fish in the sea. So controlling women tend to end up left with passive men who are willing to be pushed around because they don't know how to stand up for themselves.
I remember as a child witnessing the frustration that my passive father experienced at the hands of my critical mother. Any time he stepped out of line, she would criticise him mercilessly. He was unwilling or unable to deal with her verbal attacks effectively so he would seethe internally with resentment until he exploded with rage. Oscillating between passive resentment and explosive rage is not a powerful way for a man to relate to other people, and makes for a very disempowered role model for his children.
If you don't break the cycle, you end up repeating it: boys who have grown into passive men at the hands of the disastrous duo are likely to go on to attract another controlling woman into their life, and so the problem gets handed down to the next generation again.
The only way to break the cycle is to develop the confidence to learn to stand up for yourself. Just because your father was passive in the face of an onslaught from a controlling woman is no excuse for you continuing to behave as if you are powerless. You can learn better communication skills than your parents had, you can develop a deeper sense of inner confidence than your father had, and you can learn to stand up for yourself whenever any person tries to exercise control over you.
One of the ironies of the controlling-woman/passive-man dynamic is that the woman's anxiety will remain high for as long as she can sense that the man she is with is unable to effectively protect her. A controlling person is so anxious that they feel under threat internally the whole time, which is why they attempt to control the environment around to manage their inner anxiety. A controlling woman is subconsciously testing a man by trying to control him; and every time he collapses and submits to her authority, he fails the test.
When a passive man learns to step up and assert himself, the woman starts to see that he is in fact able to protect her. If he can stand up to her, perhaps he can stand up to other people too. This lessens her sense of anxiety allowing her to let go of the need to control him all the time. The more he steps up, the more able she is to relax. Deep down, controlling women actually want men to assert their masculinity and stand up to them, so that they can feel secure.
If you're a passive man in a relationship with a controlling woman, your only real option is to learn to stand up for yourself. The relationship will either blossom under this change or self-destruct, but either way you'll learn to stop being treated like a doormat. If you simply leave the relationship and go in search of a woman who won't try to control you without dealing with your inner insecurity, you're likely to subconsciously attract another controlling woman anyway. They can spot a weak-willed man a mile away, and will gravitate towards you without you even knowing it.
The external world is a reflection of what's going on inside your subconscious. If you want your world to change, look at what is going on inside you. Learn to stand up for yourself and do what feels right to you. Don't keep listening to the latent voice of your controlling mother inside your head. Learn from your past mistakes and break the cycle of passivity. Women will sense your deeper inner security and you'll notice controlling women taking up less of your time and energy.