Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "control" as:
1con·trol verb \kən-ˈtrōl\ : to direct the behavior of (a person or animal)
: to cause (a person or animal) to do what you want: to have power over (something)
: to direct the actions or function of (something)
: to cause (something) to act or function in a certain way
1Note the definition does not specifically mention if the sense of control is real or perceived.
This is Part I of a Three-Part Blog Series on the "Grips of Control." To get the most from this Blog Series, we suggest having a journal or notebook close-by as you participate in this Blog Series and discover the personal and real "Grips of Control" on you.
For many of us, wanting to be in control has become second nature and we are completely unaware of our desire to control and our behaviors demonstrated to be in control. We may joke with our girlfriends about being "control freaks!" You may have fooled yourself to believe you are a "natural-born leader," and must assume the leadership role in every and all of life's situations.....or else....
Behaving from a place of control may provide a sense of power, superiority, and an ability to achieve a desired outcome. We tend to repeat those behaviors and actions from which we perceive a positive gain. Repetitive behaviors become imprinted within us, becoming a habit and subtly become our "truth." We become so familiar with these repetitive behaviors, these behaviors become our "normal" response. We are so comfortable with our desire to want to be in control, we stop questioning our behaviors, and we assume the control position. In daily discussions from what kind of peanut butter is best to the next strategic step to be taken in short-term marketing promotion, we want (NEED) to be in control and guiding the discussion/situation to achieve OUR desired OUTCOME, the BEST OUTCOME. We believe we know what is best for us and those associated with us, including our families, friends, committees, business associates, and the list goes on....
With this in mind, take a moment to ask yourself, "What does perceiving to be in control of a situation, really do for me?" What are you receiving by being in control of a situation? How do you feel when you perceive yourself to be in control or not in control of a situation? Take a minute, and honestly and thoughtfully answer these questions in your journal or notebook. You may want to refer to these questions during this Three-Part Blog Series.
Let's explore the price being paid by being in control. A personal price is paid for everything, and so it goes for presumably being in control. Living from a place of control, results in increased levels of stress. At first, the physiological effects of stress may be felt as high energy, alert, and "on your game" because your heart is racing and you feel awake and energized. Similar, to a flight or flight response, that sudden rush you feel in a scary movie when a sudden, unexpected plot twist occurs and you feel the terror jump in your seat!
Physiologically, your pulse and blood pressure may be elevated. As the habit of being in control becomes more and more second nature, we develop symptoms of chronic stress and have to adapt or we will become ill. Bottom-line is we live in a culture demanding survival of the fittest. We adapt to our chronic stress to survive. Living with chronic stress causes increased cortisol hormone levels. This is a direct proportionate relationship. The greater your chronic stress levels will result in greater amounts of cortisol produced leading too greater amounts of belly fat. The physiologic effect of chronic stress and increased cortisol levels is increased belly fat, a women's worse enemy! Is our desire to be in control making us fat? The answer is unequivocally, Yes!!
Earlier I spoke of a "flight or fight response" the rush of adrenaline you feel when you are scared unexpectedly. The root of this response is not a desire for control; it is rooted in fear. Fear is masking itself beneath our desire to be in control, it may be fear of the unknown, fear of what might be; in other words, fear of what might happen if I don't get my way.
Let's go to our journal, have you been told by a doctor you have high blood pressure? If you are honest with yourself, are you worrying about things and situations you can not control? Are you unable to sleep because your mind is racing and will not slow down? Have you noticed your middle thickening and fewer good nights of restful sleep?
And the real kicker is that we are not actually in control! We believe we are in control--and so we arein control. Actually, we can only perceive our control over situations and others. Realistically, we are able to control our "Self," including our own behaviors and responses. You are the Boss of You! However, you can not control anyone else, not your family, friends, committees, business associates and the list goes on...
We want to explore this idea further together. Let's go to your journal or notebook and honestly and thoughtfully consider about those things that you causing you to feel a sense of fear. To help you get started, you may want to begin your list with, "I am afraid of ...." Or if "I am not in control, the outcome may be .........."
This is a very important exercise exploring the deep roots of your desire to be in control. The awareness of the "Grip of Control" on you is the first ingredient of the recipe of recovery and relinquishing control. The second ingredient of the recipe is to honestly and thoughtfully answer these questions and exercises.
In the meantime, when you feel the urge to control, the physiological signs of stress, stop and take five deep breaths. Breath in through your nose, counting to seven and exhale through your mouth counting to seven. Repeat this breathing exercise five times.
This breathing exercise will help you to feel more calm, less stressed by decreasing your blood pressure and heart rate by interrupting your fight or flight response. You will become more aware of your control triggers and those people, outcomes, and situations for which you are most afraid. As you identify your triggers and fears, add them to your journal or notebook.
This is Part One of a Three-Part Blog Series on the "Grips of Control." Please look for Part Two of this thought provoking series from Intentional Energy3. The new year is an opportunity for new beginnings and the beginning for a new You!!