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Out of control.
That is how our lives can often feel. Especially over the past few years.
Order and routine are what satisfy our safety needs on a primal level, so when those needs go unmet, things can quickly spiral out of control.
Feeling out of control can bring on a multitude of uncomfortable emotions and negative reactions. For many of us, a lack of control increases our anxiety. That anxiety can cause decision-making paralysis. We end up feeling so overwhelmed by the lack of control that we’re unable to do anything to reassert our control. Things continue to go downhill from there.
In my case, whenever things felt out of control, I would often reach for things that numbed me to the chaos around me. A glass (or bottle) of wine could quickly make me forget that, not only was nothing going according to plan, I no longer even had a plan. Numbing out and escaping was easier to deal with at the moment. I didn’t want the pressure and demands of leaning into the discomfort. I just wanted to run and hope that when the wine wore off, things would have worked themselves out.
They never did. I still wasn’t in control and my anxiety and unease were now even higher. That is almost always the case when we run from the things that cause us discomfort rather than face them. Escapism is not a way of taking control. It doesn’t solve anything and usually just compounds the issues.
Not everything that happens in our lives is within our control. That does not mean we are powerless. As long as we have the power of our minds, we have control. Or the ability to feel in control.
Here are three steps you can take to feel in control (even when you’re not):
1. Choose To Be Present
It can be so tempting to want to escape and tune out when life feels out of control. A few glasses of wine, some edibles, and many other options exist when one chooses to escape. The moment you make that choice, you choose to give up control. You lose the power of your mind and must accept whatever comes from abdicating that power. Choosing to be present—even when you want to escape—means making choices rather than having choices made for you.
2. Control What You Can
Feeling powerless sucks. There isn’t an eloquent way to put it. Allow yourself to feel that emotion but don’t wallow in it. Even when things occur that are beyond your control, you can still have control. Take stock of the situation and decide what you can control about it. You can control how you react to it—escaping or leaning in. You can control if you will use it to tear yourself down or build yourself up. You can control whether you use it as a source of anxiety or a source of encouragement. Realizing that you can make choices even when you didn’t choose what happened to you means feeling in control.
3. Choose What You Tune In and Tune Out
We forget that so much of what we associate with is a choice. Social media, the news, marketing, people—it is a choice to associate with the messaging coming from all of these sources. You can choose what you tune into and what you tune out. If the messaging you’re getting from these sources makes you feel out of control or doesn’t support the mindset you’re working toward—tune it out. Choose to seek out the support and information that empowers you instead.
Life and the world will continue to be chaotic—despite our efforts to control and understand it. Seldom does anyone feel in complete control of what is going on around them. The difference is in how we choose to deal with the chaos. When we escape and numb out, we choose to relinquish our control. We’re powerless by choice. Those who choose to stay present, control what they can, and mind the messaging they take in are able to feel in control—even when they might not be!
If you’re looking to engage with life again and get back to being human, join us in The Alcohol Experiment. Almost 350,000 people have taken part in this free 30-day break from alcohol that brings you back to a place where you’re happier, more at peace, and in control of your relationship with alcohol.