Let’s face it, we may have all experienced a time where we tried to control the outcome of a situation to the point where it led to stress, fear, or even sabotaging the end result. It took only a whopping 26 years for me to really acknowledge that I could have sabotaged or missed out an opportunity I really wanted because I lacked the full control I so desperately wanted.
I needed to control and plan out every step as well as practice what I’d do or say. I ultimately needed to know for sure what the outcome would be or I’d be too afraid to fully pursue my desires and would instead use my control freakish ways as a mechanism to cover up my true inner emotions.
Time and time again, I kept wondering and asking myself, why am I so stressed out? Why am I not getting what I deserve in the end? Why do I end every budding relationship or possible career opportunity? It all came back to my controlling ways and the inability to trust that everything will work out no matter what, whether it turns out how I hoped for or not.
Controlling behavior only leads to overthinking, self-doubt, and anxiety, which eventually ruined everything I put my hands and heart to. I learned over the years that there are three main ways to challenge your inner control freak tendencies to foster peace and growth.
1. Acknowledge and Identify the Masked Emotion You’re Truly Feeling
During times where we go into control mode, it’s important to identify our true feelings, which in this instance is usually linked to fear. For example, there have been times in my relationships where I would try to control and plan every aspect, such as the exact moment that I’ll open up about certain things or the length of time we should spend together. I had to call the shots out of fear that if I did not plan and initiate things the spark would quickly die.
Every time I tried to control every moment of a situation or relationship, it backfired. I did not allow people to show up. I did not allow God to have full control in various situations. Once I was able to identify and acknowledge my uncomfortable relationship with the unknown, I started focusing more on taking a deep breath and working to change the negative thoughts I was having that contributed to my feelings of fear.
2. Identify and Combat Irrational Beliefs
Engaging in distorted or irrational thinking can influence how you perceive a situation and end up feeling about it. I learned that it is important to challenge those negative thoughts and replace them with more rational, positive thoughts. There are various types of distorted thinking that humans engage in however, I noticed that I particularly took part in catastrophizing – which is assuming the worst will happen, especially when faced with the unknown.
For instance, there have been jobs that I thought about applying for, but I would have thoughts like “I may not get the job or if I do get the job, it may be too advanced and I won’t know what to do.” Based on those thoughts I would simply not apply for the job. Or how about when dating, I’d think, “What if he isn’t the one and he hurts me like the others?” In identifying the irrationality of my thoughts, I had to challenge them and replace them with more positive statements because they influenced my decisions and caused stress.
When challenging your thoughts, think, “How likely will that negative thought happen? And if it does happen, what effect, if any, would it have?” So, now I go for the jobs I really want, and if I don’t get any particular job, there will be other opportunities. And if I do get it, I have confidence that I have acquired the needed skills, plus there will be staff and others to guide me.
Therefore, there’s no reason to let fear cripple you. In the end, challenging and rewording negative thoughts helped me improve my perception and I gained confidence in going after my dreams.
3. Surrender and be Grateful for the Process and the Little Things Along the Way
Lastly, resist the negative feelings and thoughts by surrendering and just going for it. Regardless of the outcome, there will be an opportunity to gain knowledge from the experience. Also, learn to appreciate the small things that occur along the way. For instance, I was initially hesitant about starting a blog out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to create the website and attract readers.
Although my blog is not where I want it to be, I’m still thankful for the process and the people that reach out to me to thank me for my posts. Overall, I’m learning that you have to trust the process and release the urges to maintain full control. In order to tap into your potential, you must identify your feelings of fear, change your thinking patterns, let go, and just be down for the ride!