“I see a part of my life as being out of control.”
This is a statement I hear often from stress management clients, at the beginning of our work together.
It can feel damn scary and discombobulating to not have a sense of control. As human beings, we need to believe that we can influence our outcomes. We need to feel that our efforts will make a difference.
If we do not feel that our efforts are moving us forward, we become stressed. If we lack tools or resources to manage life challenges, we can begin to lose hope.
Feeling out of control makes us question our capacities and our very identity.
A prolonged sense of not having control can lead to anxiety, depression, and for some people, substance misuse. At the very least, it can lead us down a cow path, that becomes habituated and is far removed from our original potential.
Some clients experience a loss of control in a specific area of life, while others believe that their whole life is outside of their control. Either way, there are commonalities in thinking and behaving habits, but the distinction is the amount of hope left.
The reality is that we cannot be “out of control” in one life area, without it eventually bleeding into other life areas. Even people who have the ability to compartmentalize eventually find that this strategy drains their mental and physical resources.
If our efforts are not making any significant difference in terms of gaining control then we need to make some serious adjustments. Life is short, as long as some hope remains and a significant “why” is identified, then gaining control is possible.
Terri Lee Cooper MSc. RSW