If I say this, do this, wear this and then consequently talk through the outcomes as if they’ve already happened then I’ll feel totally in control. Plans will go as I wish and those around me will comply with what I expect and it will be just dandy. Meanwhile, the projections of others and what they should do will continue to be picked up by yours truly and allow me to have the perfect flow and ending to what I want.
Sound familiar? This is how narratives have gone in my mind (and possibly for you too) in the past.
Our brains are wired for threat with a bias of 5:1. That means that naturally, our brains scan environments and situations for threat in order to feel safe and yes, in control. We want so much to predict possible pitfalls, outcomes and what this looks like is set to come up in the process of understanding the future. Surely, the fact that we’re still sitting in the eye of a Pandemic is a reminder that we don’t have a clue what’s around the corner? We just don’t know and to be honest, that’s not the easiest as we make big or even smaller life decisions. Our identification of this is clearly recognised in some forms of anxiety or venting to those around us so we feel like we have some sense of control over it.
As we endeavour to feel in control, this can be a slippery slope of healthy or unhealthy methods of taking actions to get this sensation. As per a recent chat with a family member, taking actions to feel in control can be counter-productive. This is because we’re taking the action to feel in control rather than actually wanting to take the action itself. What happens when the energy calms down and you’ve taken action to feel better in the moment?
Ways I’ve aimed to feel in control over the past year include managing diet to dangerous detail, not spending a cent but rather living on a very low uncomfortable budget, being super restrictive with fun I allow into my life and working crazy hours to get stuff done. Control can quite often equal to unhealthiness which is why it’s important to understand this and to identify when it might be a challenge for you or your mental health.
Some ways I’ve found that can allow the sense of control while staying within healthy boundaries are outlined below 🙂
- Having a healthy routine. Being clear on when you get up and go to bed and an outline of the time in between. This means there’s a sense of what they day looks like (minus being an army sergeant with the approach please).
- Journalling. Yes, I know I’ve mentioned it once or twice before. Writing in a journal and getting words on paper in a given situation can be super healthy and allow for a sense of reflection as well as possible outcomes. It is after all, your thoughts that guide you to your next step so why not be super fluid with your words to yourself in order to get this sense and understanding.
- Recognising intentions and goals. Chatting through with a coach earlier this year, I had been working towards 4 different goals at the time. Two of them were related to exercise, one was study and one was financials. This was a time when I was all guns blazing but absolutely worn down. The question arose of ‘what are you doing for fun?’ Sometimes having goals can feel like a lot. Being clear on this and identifying that too much pressure is a bit much is key to feeling our best selves at this time.
- Building self-awareness. Knowing when and how you are at your best is imperative for goal setting and understanding ourselves. Often, controlling behaviours are there to tell us we need to slow down and take stock of where we’re at with this. Over-exertion and control of outcomes reveals internal conflict.
Remember this, we can set intentions, do our best and guide ourselves to the next best path. In any event, minding our minds and being aware with self-care is what will lead us to the best outcomes.
Happy Sunday x