The illusion of control

Often people get anxious because they feel that they might lose control.  In a way, everything they do is geared around maintaining ‘control’ of as much as they can.

Control issues are common in the clients I see in the clinic.  Clients that suffer severe anxiety use control strategies to build a ‘firewall’ between them and the ambiguity which causes them so much distress.

There is one problem with control – it is an illusion.  The more you seek, the less you have.

In the clinic, I find many clients have such a need for control, that it is totally ’out of control’.  Imagine that – a need for control that is so out of control that true control would be gained by letting go of the need for control.

It sounds a bit funny, does it not?  However, what does control really look like?  People that run severe anxiety try and protect themselves from their ‘worst fears’ by trying to ‘control’ their environment to such an extent that whatever it is that they are scared of couldn’t possibly get near enough to affect them.

One problem with this approach is that as the world around someone with anxiety is controlled so tightly, that the ‘life’ is essentially sucked out of this space.  Having to have the world completely predictable and structured to the point that no ambiguity is allowed removes all of the opportunity for surprise, change and growth.  It is hard to imagine that this is a fulfilling and enjoyable existence.

What is true is that it can be hard to ‘relax’ these controls, and allow the ambiguities, surprises and changes of life to reach you.  When you have been living this way, it feels like the best that you can do just to ‘hold back’ the world with structures and control, to protect yourself.  Clients with this world view often get great benefit from some hypnotherapy and advanced NLP techniques which can make a real difference.  It can be hard to make the changes that you want to make (and feel that you need to make) by yourself sometimes.

But what can an individual really control?  Can you control the future?  Can you control what other people think about you?  Can you control how things will turn out?  The answer is no, you simply cannot.

This means that everything OUTSIDE of us is outside of our control.  However, by only gaining control of our ‘internal’ processes, we can massively reduce the need to worry about trying to control things outside of us.  By letting go of what we cannot control, and instead increase our control what we can (our thoughts, our feelings and our own actions), we can shift from the ‘illusion of control’ to personal responsibility and power. 

Without the illusion of control, we gain true control.  What you choose to focus on you give power to.  I encourage you to acknowledge any thoughts or feelings of anxiety, but to not focus, dwell on or empower them.  Instead, seek out the optimistic, positive and helpful thoughts and feelings and focus your attention on these.  The law of perception states that what you focus on you amplify in your perceptions.

What can you stop trying to control outside of you?

What thoughts, feelings or actions do you let ‘control’ you?

What I know is that my clients are doing the best that they can with where they are at in their lives.  When they have ‘had enough’ and want to find a new way, that is where I can help.

If you could imagine the possibilities of letting go of the illusion of control, perhaps now is the time to book a session for hypnotherapy and advanced NLP.

Live Well,