Some people like to plan out their entire lives with elaborate step-by-step plans or at least know what their today will look like by just checking a schedule, while others are more interested in going with the flow. Even the most laid-back person may cling to their sense of control over certain aspects of their lives, but we can never control everything, no matter how hard one tries.
This is one of the most difficult things to deal with for many people. Fear of losing control or of realizing that control of your circumstances was never really in your possession can be a true challenge. When someone close to you gets sick, a natural disaster comes to your town, or anything you weren’t expecting takes the reins out of your hands, losing that sense of control is not a good feeling. There is certainly a big role in mental health that all these circumstances out of our control play.
The Anxiety of Losing Control
For some, the fear of losing control of any part of their lives makes up a large part of their mental health situation. They worry about things not going to plan. They feel persistent anxiety when in a situation outside of their control.
Anxiety associated with a sense of control may not be so easily recognized, but you may notice a nagging feeling that something isn’t right and possibly some tension and irritability without a known cause. Looking deeper, you may find that it’s an inability to control your situation that has you upset and that the real struggle you have to face is this anxiety itself.
We may all feel some level of fear or anxiety when life is particularly uncertain and out of our control. In other cases, this severe anxiety may actually be related to an anxiety disorder. When anxious thoughts and feelings have begun to take over your life, it is important to find real mental health support.
Loss of Control and OCD
For many with obsessive compulsive disorder, certain behaviors and symptoms of OCD relate to a central desire to maintain their sense of control. Even if they can’t control everything that happens to them or even certain aspects of daily life, someone with OCD may find some comfort in what they can control. While this may not be the case for all with an OCD diagnosis, many compulsions may continue in an effort to stay in control of those smallest of things still able to be controlled.
Unfortunately, the small bit of comfort provided by going through with an individual’s compulsions is never enough and certainly never worth what is lost at the same time. The fact is that, with obsessive compulsive disorder, you are not in control. Rather, the OCD itself has control.
Doing Whatever Possible to Keep Control in Your Grasp
When you fear the loss of control over your life, you may do everything you possibly can to keep that control in your grip. If this significant factor of mental health affects you deeply enough, you may even go to some unrealistic lengths to hold onto control. You may overplan everything to the point where no room is left for unexpected occurrences; organize your home and, to as much an extent as possible, your life so things seem perfectly tidy, even if this is only an illusion; or even try to control others around you like your partner, children, or colleagues.
All of these controlling behaviors come from the same fear that losing even an ounce of control would mean the entire collapse of one’s life. Simply stated, obsessively trying to stay in control of your life is never healthy. And no matter how hard you try, complete control will never be possible.
When It’s Impossible to Control Our Circumstances
There will always be things in our lives that we can’t control. We can’t control major incidents or crises that come our way, whether that’s losing your job, being involved in a car accident, or experiencing the impact of a tornado on your community. We often can’t even control the smaller moments of our everyday lives like getting stuck in traffic longer than expected, having rainy weather on a day you planned to spend outside, or receiving a negative reaction from someone. Life is unpredictable and we always have the chance of encountering something out of our control.
This is the fact that is hard for many to accept, but it’s true. While certain times of particular unpredictability can truly shake one’s sense of control, there is no such thing as a time in which it’s possible to control one’s circumstances. The point should never be trying to control them, but simply doing what you can for your mental health when the realization comes that control is impossible.
Letting Go of Your Sense of Control
The first step towards addressing the mental health challenge of a fragile sense of control is to simply acknowledge it. Come to terms with the truth that control over one’s life is merely an illusion. This may, of course, be difficult to do, but if you can accept that complete control over your circumstances simply isn’t possible, it may become much easier to let go of that sense of control.
When you let go of your sense of control, you don’t have to worry anymore about getting everything just right. You realize that you never really had that control in the first place. Approaching life in this healthier frame of mind can allow you to take on those things that you do have some power over.
You have power over your own self and the ways you respond to the uncontrollable events that come your way. You have power over your own actions and can choose to spend your time in ways that benefit your mental health. You have power over your mind and, with the proper tools and possibly the support of a mental health professional, you can succeed over any mental health condition.
Gaining Control Over Your Mental Health Situation
One of the things in your power to control is your own decision to prioritize your mental health. If you feel like you’ve lost control of your life or worry all the time that control will be stolen from you, there are things you can do to move forward to a better place. Taking control of your mental health is a good place to start, but it may not be possible to do it alone.
The ADHD Wellness Center is always available to help anyone with mental health support and resources. We specialize in ADHD but have plenty of experience helping those with a wide variety of mental health conditions. Don’t hesitate to reach out and communicate what you need.