Control only what you can control
Updated: Jul 25, 2022
Part of living in a fast paced world is that we have the opportunity to do many things at once. Never have our minds been so filled with chances, aspirations, and options – and for those of us who thrive on the rush of activity, never have we had the occasion to do so much.
However, as with all skills – everything that can be applauded has a “dark side” as well, and for the active go-getter often comes a need to control. This is not necessarily meant in the manipulative “Taylor Swift – Blank Space” sense, but rather in a need to manage everything around you just to be sure that you’ll “be ok”.
While this can stem from a low self-esteem, I will reserve that for a different blog, and rather look at ways that you can tame and channel your over-active shadow, because undue worrying is damaging.
1. Try to avoid the “encyclopaedia of Google” - yes there are a lot of answers on the internet, but at best you are only hearing one snippet of one story and if it has a happy ending, it doesn’t mean that’s your pathway, and if it doesn’t …that’s just going to add to your worries.
INSTEAD: Speak to a professional about it if you can. As an example, when I found out the my dog had pancreatitis I read everything possible about recovery times and fatalities – and was most reassured when I spoke to my vet who said “This is a case-by-case illness.” (My dog is much better now).
2. The cycle of worry will break you, try to break it first.
PRACTICE: Thought stopping – a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Technique of saying “Stop” or “no” out loud (or making another sharp noise) when you recognise that you are getting into a cycle of negative thinking. A word of warning – it may be better to do this in private.
AND TRY: Meditation
– ideally guided because otherwise there is too much scope for you to let your mind wander elsewhere.
ALSO, have a go at this “Circle of Influence” activity.
i)Write down all the things that concern you
ii)Allocate them into the circles – the outer one
is all the things you have NO influence over, the inner is ONLY the things you can influence.
iii)Start tackling the inner circle
While this exercise still means those things are worrying you – seeing what you CANNOT influence in black and white in front of you, is more convincing that me telling you anything!
3. Accept that rainy days come – and sometimes they will pour.
AND TRY: Channelling your energy into your physical and mental wellbeing so that you are fit to face them when they do.
Eat well, exercise, see friends, hug a pet - do the things that make you feel good long term rather than the quick shot of attention which spikes our seratonin.
…and then praise yourself for doing so (and there’s a little self-esteem boost right there!)
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience For quick tips and tools: click for SKILL PILL and Q&A videos and here for Media appearances. Twitter/IG @draudreyt