Anxiety and The Need To Be In Control
When you have anxiety, having control can be very important to you. You either feel like you have it or you don't. And when you don't, it feels very scary so you do whatever you have to do to get it back. Avoid, scream, clean, freeze, isolate, carry out a pattern, research, or control someone else, for example.
Feeling Loss of Control Provokes Anxiety
This is the thing...being out of control is an illusion of sorts.
You are never really out of control. That is just a tactic of Anxiety (in combination with personal history and culture) that influences us to think that. It's quite common to think this, it doesn't mean something is wrong with you. But it causes great suffering.
Okay. You can't control what happens to you. Things happen. It is inevitable. You can't control other people. But here is the secret...
What happens matters less than you think. What matters more is your response.
You can 100% control your response to events that happen. And your response is what matters most in how the rest of your life goes. Your response creates your identity, your feelings, your mood. It influences how you see yourself and how you experience the world. It determines if you feel like a victim or an agent in your life. It helps you trust yourself and feel less afraid.
Your response is always in your control. Even though Anxiety tells you that you are powerless. Remember you never are truly powerless. Powerless is a state of mind when you disconnected to your agency (that you are an agent in your life rather than a passive recipient.) Admittedly, this is a scary place to be. Very scary. It feels like a prison.
But you have the key, and it may take a while to open the door, but knowing you can, can help. It's a start. Just in small ways today, try to notice your agency. Take small actions to increase your confidence. Learn something new, help someone, do something for yourself, do a new activity. Begin to trust yourself. Appreciate yourself. It'll be a powerful first step on your journey to get rid of your Anxiety.
Let me know how it is going!
Lobozzo, J. (2013, May 8). Anxiety and The Need To Be In Control, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2013/05/anxiety-and-the-need-to-be-in-control
Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R
Sometimes I feel so in need to control my life and take over the feeling of fear that I try and predict things that may happen. Lately I have had fears that I will become allergic to certain foods and die. My diet has become so restricted by this need to control and hardly eat anything. Even if a doctor told me I wasn't allergic the fear that I could spontaneously become allergic would haunt me. My life has become a consistent drama of trying not to die or get hurt. I feel like I'm going crazy.
What helps me most feeling in control is knowing that I'm not alone, having a "safe place" where I can go "just in case". I usually manage to control anxiety but not its physical symptoms.
You are becoming better and better at this. The physical body is said to be the last to get there. Go to your sacred place and imagine going there in your body. Keep deep breathing. Do the exercizes Herve taught you (that you knew already)! xo
I feel like people don't understand my anxiety and that they don't take it seriously. And when that happens it just makes it worse. I start to cry and shake and just lost control of myself.. I need people.. Especially my friends... to let me do what I need to do in order to still feel in control of the situation and of myself. But no one understands that.. And it drives me crazy :(
Sometimes people feel helpless or scared themselves when they see you go through that. So this is why they are reacting that way. Let them know exactly what will help you and when it works, tell them it is working and that you are grateful. Feeling helpful, feels good.
If your control over the situation makes them feel everything is more important than them, this might also make them pull away. So, make sure you are still a friend to them when they need you!
I hope this helps!
Sometimes anxiety feels like a living being inhabiting me. It is fear of what will happen in the future; the next minute, day, year. When I feel it in there I feel like it has complete control over me and the more I struggle the stronger it gets! What if I can't calm down? What if this is the big one that will completely and forever take me over? When it is there everything seems wrong. Everything I do seems like the wrong thing and it adds to it feelings of being stupid and unworthy. I don't want this to control my life anymore but I can't find the "key" or even the "door" when I'm in this state. All there is are my anxieties and fears and it seems they have total control. That is not the life I wish to lead anymore but sometimes the only proof I have that I'm alive is the anxiety.
Sorry to be so negative!
"What if I can't calm down?" is what the anxiety is using to keep its power. Instead of judging yourself, be gentle and compassionate. Stop the judgment and you stop the problem! xo
I was just speaking about this with someone yesterday. With anxiety, we try so hard to be in control, but it's just an illusion, as you say. And the more in control we try to be, the more out of control we will often feel since there is so much that we cannot control. We end up focusing so much on the (what in reality are) the little things and lose sight of what's really important in leading a loving, productive, full life.
Very well said, Elizabeth!