We all strive to have a degree of control over our lives. When things go wrong we often complain things are outside our control. But do we need to always be in control? Can you have too much of a good thing? The short answer is yes.
The modern world is changing rapidly and we need to be flexible and adaptable. This means letting go of some control. Stick to the old ways too rigidly and we find ourselves unable to adapt to change. Change is inevitable in life and the only way to fully embrace it is to have a flexible attitude and accept we can’t always influence everything. That means being willing to relinquish some control.
Anxious people are especially prone to trying to over-control things. However, there is a contradiction at the heart of this – the more we try to control things the less in control and the more anxious we feel. In psychology this is known as the ‘paradox of the control’.
So, why is this and what’s the answer?
It is because we are trying to do the impossible – be responsible for and control everything.
This weeks’ tip may feel scary and possibly down right foolhardy!
TIP: Make a decision right now to let go of working out how to control all eventualities
And if you wobble? Remind yourself of the last time you successfully effected an outcome without even thinking about it. For example, helping out by chatting with a fellow lockdown mate currently more stressed than you!
Ask yourself is it really essential to control X or Y, or does it just give you a nice (short lived) feeling – without actually making any real positive change to your life. It might actually be making your life worse. After all, it is time and energy that could be used elsewhere.
By letting go of the small things you will find you actually feel more in control. You will gain perspective of what is important or capable of being controlled and what is actually just an unnecessary drain on your energy and resources. You will be able to see the wood from the trees.
I like to think of control as a bit like driving a car. Grip the wheel too tightly and you might feel a bit safer, but it actually makes it hard to steer the car. Loosen your grip a bit and it’s easier to drive, and a lot less jolting when you hit the inevitable bumps in the road!
So if you find yourself anxiously trying to control everything, try and let go a bit. You might just feel a bit confident, as if you are properly in the driving seat.