Control and Anxiety
It’s a natural human condition to want everything to go exactly how we picture it in our heads. However, to much of our dismay, life can be unpredictable. Things may not always go according to plan. And whenever life feels unpredictable, unplanned, or uncertain–with major life decisions in front of us, it’s natural to worry.
It’s the moment that those things that are uncertain, unplanned, and unpredictable seem out of our control that our worry quickly turns into anxiety.
But it doesn’t have to.
To The Control Freak and Everyone Else
First of all, ask yourself: what are you trying to control? What can you do about your situation that’s within your control? What’s beyond your control?
The whole point of this exercise is to acknowledge what’s actually within and beyond your limits. Keep in mind, it has nothing to do with acquiescence. It’s not about throwing your hands up and saying, “Well, it is what it is.”
Rather, it’s about simply recognizing that we tend to get anxious trying to control certain things that happen to be uncontrollable, uncertain, and unpredictable.
Reflecting on the questions above, I wrote down something I’m worried about on the top of a piece of paper and drew a circle below it. Inside the circle, I jotted down the things that are within my control. Beyond the circle were all the things I couldn’t control or predict.
I found that the things within my circle fell along the lines of continuing to work hard, developing contingency plans, having a more positive attitude, and having a growth mindset on whatever is the outcome. Those were the things well within my control in the midst of life’s uncertainty and unpredictability. Stressing out about the uncertain, unpredictable, and uncontrollable things beyond my circle doesn’t really make my situation any better. Instead, all it does is create more anxiety.
Once you know you are doing all that you can do within your control, have these mantras ready in your head whenever anxiety starts to creep in:
- I’ve done/I’m doing the best I can. Whatever happens now is beyond my control.
- I will focus on what I can do and not what I cannot do.
- In any major decision, I will follow my gut and pray for a clear path.
- I will maintain a growth mindset for whatever happens next.