26 Jan How do you make sure you stay in control?
If you’re a regular reader of this blog or listener to my podcast, you will have read about how to create and maintain a positive mindset by keeping out the negative influences and staying in control of your own thoughts, emotions and behaviours.
But what really is control and how can you stay in control?
What happens when you have control? When you feel controlled? Or when you lose control? And what happens when you take back your control?
The goal of this blog is to act as a word of warning about the positive and negative ways to gain control and to offer a summary of the positive actions to take.
“No one has power over you unless you give it to them, you are in control of your life and your choices decide your own fate.” Anonymous
What is control?
The dictionary definition of control is:
“To order, limit or rule something, or someone’s actions or behaviours. It’s the act of controlling something or someone, or the power to do that.
A rule or law that sets a limit on something.
To decide or strongly influence the particular way in which something will happen or someone will behave.”
The definitions make perfect sense but how does it emotionally feel to be controlled or to control? In the last chapter you read that the six human needs maintain the control of balance and that control is one of your driving forces.
Feeling in control of the things that happen inside you and around you gives a sense of certainty, a feeling of safety, security, calmness, peace of mind and knowing what to expect.
When you feel like you’ve lost control it’s a completely different feeling that can quickly turn into worry, anxiety, confusion and panic. You will feel vulnerable, threatened and afraid, and the more you focus on those feelings the more they grow – remember, what you think, you feel and do.
“Control your thoughts and everything will be under your control.” Debasish Mridha
Taking back control with anger
If someone takes away your control you might feel undervalued and not respected and these feelings might turn to anger. This rage tries to take back control by causing fear, dishing out threats or in the extreme, sees you resorting to violence. Whilst this isn’t the best way to take back your control it can turn into a habit if people give in to the person displaying rage. Condoning anger as a behaviour by giving in to it actually confirms to the person that this is how you get what you want.
Imagine how this behaviour could escalate from something as seemingly trivial as a child throwing a tantrum at teatime to bringing that anger into the classroom, to the workplace or into a relationship.
Taking back control by being over-controlling
Instead of being an inspirational leader, an over-controlling person may become a dictator by commanding others as to what they must do. Over-controlling can also include the use of passive aggressive behaviours such as deliberately being late or not doing something or playing the victim. Even sulking, bullying and stubbornness is a form of over-controlling behaviour.
Controlling by using manipulative behaviour
Manipulative behaviour is a way to get people to do what you want by causing them to feel afraid of humiliation or guilt as a consequence if they don’t.
As an example, if you were to say to your parents: ‘If you don’t let me go to the party everyone will pick on me. It will be your fault and I’ll have no friends because I was the only one from my class who didn’t go. Everyone’s parents have said yes except you.’
Manipulative people lie, blame others and live in denial to get their own way. They will swear something did or did not happen and behave in a way that you feel sorry for them. They may even manipulate you by pretending to be on your side and go as far as to undermine your confidence, self-belief and make you feel inadequate or useless to get their way.
Controlling by micromanagement
Micromanaging things is a form of over-controlling where everything is micromanaged right down the finest detail.
You might think that people cannot be trusted to do a task correctly therefore you oversee every minute detail of the task and question every single step: ‘Have you done this yet? Did you do it right? Did you do this, this and this? Where did you put that? Why did you do that?’
When micromanaging becomes a habit, you might not trust anyone to do anything because you think they’ll mess it up and will therefore do everything yourself. Again, see the circular outcome of this where you will become tired, stressed and angry at others because you receive no help … but you brought it upon yourself by micromanaging.
Controlling your environment
Controlling your environment could mean being organised, neat and tidy but it becomes a negative controlling behaviour when obsession sets in. When there’s a precise place for everything or a procedure on how to do something right down to the smallest detail it can even lead to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), such as handwashing, checking doors are locked, windows are closed and flicking the light switches over and over and over before leaving the house.
Eating disorders can develop in this way too because people know they can control what goes into their mouth.
What happens when you feel controlled?
Everything you’ve read so far is concerned with feeling out of control, so what happens when you feel controlled by someone or something?
Do any of the above circumstances feel familiar to you? Think carefully about this next question … are you the one in control or being controlled?
Feeling controlled by a situation or person causes feelings of fear, resentment, helplessness and powerlessness. You may feel used, abused, manipulated and disrespected and you may start to ask questions because you are confused and unsure.
- Why me?
- Why is this happening to me?
- What can I do?
People who are controlled in some way often feel that there is no way out of a bad situation and may even start to believe that they deserve the treatment they are receiving.
If you can relate to any of this and feel that a situation or someone’s behaviour towards you (or your behaviour to someone else) is bad, hard, unfair or oppressive and so on then your unconscious mind is trying to tell you to stop. To do something differently. To claim back your power, reclaim your destiny and that has to start with you.
“When you react, you let others control you. When you respond, you are in control.” Bohdi Sanders
Stay in control responsibly
The best way to make sure you stay in control is to take back responsibility for your thoughts, your feelings, your actions and your interactions with the people around you. Recognise that this is your world too.
Start by changing what goes on inside your own head and make it positive. Every. Single. Day. Here are some ideal ways to start:
- Catch the little things that make you smile and laugh and consequently feel happier
- Be kind to others, just because you can
- Be more organised, on time and do things first time when you’re asked. Even better, surprise other people by doing things in advance rather than last minute
- Look for the good in every situation. Believe that everything happens for a positive reason, even if it doesn’t feel that way at the time, so find fun in seeking out the positive
- Ask how you can help others rather than waiting to be told and then moan that you’re being told what to do
- Make your own decisions rather than waiting for others to make them for you
- Decide what you stand for and think for yourself
- Do your own research, plan ahead and build resilience
The above bullet points are simple ways to ensure that you feel a sense of certainty, peace of mind and calmness. You will feel energised and balanced because you have met your needs positively.
“Life does not control you. What you believe about it does.” Alan Cohen
Choose the life you want to lead
You can’t control the outside world, but you can stay in control of your inside world, your mindset and how you interpret meaning. Sharing your thoughts and ways you’ve overcome controlling situations or people help to encourage others. So why not be a part of the Back on Track Teens community?
Focus on controlling your inner thoughts and consider how you can switch negative patterns into positive ones. As they say, there’s a silver lining to every cloud.