Human beings like control. Why? When we feel out of control, we experience a powerful and uncomfortable sense of anxiety due to the ambiguity of the future. For instance, we might ponder the questions: what is going to happen to me or what does my future hold? It makes sense from a primitive standpoint- we want to survive and in order to survive, it would be nice to know what the future has in store for us! The problem with this is there is simply much in life that is out of our control. This may be a difficult concept for one to accept. While life might be a train that does not seem to slow down or stop for anything, the good news is that you can help manage the anxiety and stress while onboard with a few simple tips.
1. Determine what you can control
When you find yourself worrying, take a minute to examine what you actually and realistically have control over. Make a list and on one side write down the things you can control with the other side being things you are unable to control. This list will help your mind calm itself down. After all, you can’t prevent a snow storm from coming but you sure can prepare for it!
2. Create a plan [s] Let’s face it-life is unpredictable. Sometimes plan “A” falls through and this is okay! The important thing is to consider what you will do if this does happen to prevent yourself from going into a panic survival mode. Having alternatives and a flexible mentality gives you more control because you suddenly realize that there is not just one path to success- there are many!
There is a slight paradox with the idea of control because life is ever changing and most things will not stay exactly the same over time. Hence, in a way, you have more control if you can accept or even embrace the idea uncertainty. Just the fact that you know the only constant in life might be change itself may provide you with a sense of inner control and deeper acceptance.
4. Reflect over yourself
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Have you ever heard this expression? That’s right- you are the only person that you have control over! Start by thinking about what contributes to making you the best version of yourself. Do you like to eat healthy, workout, go dancing, or spend time with your kids? Make sure you make time for it! We are all different, and what works for one person, might not work for the other, so find what is best for you!
All in all, life might very well be a train moving quickly down the tracks- there are different routes, stops, stations and people are constantly coming on and getting off. As you ride it yourself, know that there are some things in your control, many routes to take to one destination, and you can only control yourself as the beautiful journey is underway.
By Danielle Wahl, MA
Danielle Wahl, MA is a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate in the state of Colorado.
She has experience working with eating disorders, depression, anxiety, trauma, and various other mental health diagnoses and has worked in full and partial hospital settings, residential treatment centers, and traditional settings. She has specific training in Cognitive Behavioral Thearpy ( CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), EMDR and neurofeedback.