Letting Go of Control: Taming Your Inner Control Freak

Monday, 20 November 2017
I will be the first to admit that I am a massive control freak. I like knowing when things are going to happen, why these things are happening, and preparing for any potential speed bumps that may occur along the way. I tend to freak out if that plan gets changed or if they are not going as quickly as I would like (I'm looking at you Australian Immigration). 

It would appear that as I've gotten older, the anxiety surrounding my ability to control things has increased. I've gotten into the bad habit of expecting specific outcomes and wasting energy trying to force them into the way I saw things in my mind. 

As this is obviously an unhealthy approach to life, I began to dig a little deeper to find the cause of this maladaptive coping skill. I discovered that the primary source of this unwanted anxiety stemmed from perfectionism and a lack of trust. 

Cool, I've figured out what the source of the control issue was but how does one begin to adjust and let go? How does one learn to just go with the flow? 

1. What Can You Do About It Right Now?
For me, my anxiety can be quite cyclic. I get stuck in the vicious cycle of overanalysing, with each cycle finding something else that I need to stress about it. When this happens, ask yourself one simple question "What can you do about this right now?". If you find you're unable to do jack diddly squat, MOVE ON! Find something else to focus your time and energy on. If you realise there's something you can do, do it! Once that's complete, ask the question again until you find you've done all you can. At this point, it's time to move on and move forward. 

2. Be Honest With Yourself
Sometimes you just need to take a look in the mirror and be honest with yourself as to why you need such control in your life. This can be challenging. It's hard to realise and accept our flaws. Ask yourself where, why, and how this behaviour impacts your life. At the same time, assess how this controlling behaviour affects you and those around you. 

3. Look At Your Support Network
Do you have a strong support network? Do you feel comfortable turning to them in times of distress? If so, lean on them for support. This can often be incredibly challenging for some. Asking for help can be difficult. We often fear we are weak or needy when we ask for help. By relinquishing this control and asking for help, it aids in teaching us we're not alone nor do we have to go through challenging situations alone. NEVER feel afraid of asking for help. 

4. Sometimes You Just Have To Be Patient
Why does patience have to be a virtue? Why can't hurry the frick up be a virtue? Unfortunately, most of our lives are spent waiting. But this doesn't have to be a negative thing. Could you imagine the mess the world would be in if people just acted and didn't think through their actions? (The Earth would be in nuclear winter by now). This cooling off period is hugely beneficial. Learn to embrace it. Instead of cyclically stressing about the unknown, go for a run, read a book, cook dinner, or hang out with your fantastic support network. Next thing you know, time will have passed, and you'll have your answer. 

5. Challenge Yourself With the Unpredictable
This can be one of the scariest steps to truly letting go. We are a creature of familiarity. We thrive having a schedule and a routine. But adding unpredictability to your day-to-day can help develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with change. I'm not saying go out tomorrow and buy a new car or quit your job. Nothing that drastic. It can be little things. Take an unfamiliar route home from work. Try food from a country you've never tried. Order a mystery box from eBay or another retailer. I did that recently and was pleasantly surprised! It doesn't need to be life-altering, just something out of the usual. 

Change can be daunting, but it does not have to be anxiety provoking. Unpredictability is a thing of life, and it is something we can learn to handle. How do you tame your inner control freak? Share it in the comments below!

And until next time...
Stay curious!

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  1. I love the idea of challenging yourself with the unpredictable! It's something I hadn't thought of!

  2. I have learned that going through life as a control freak is definitely not the path to happiness! It's been quite a journey.

  3. These are such great reminders! It's sometimes so hard to be patient, but it is an important skill to have! And I agree, having a support system is so important and vital.