Control is a very complex and important topic that impacts every area of our lives including: friendships, love relationships, career, mental health and family. However, it’s not really discussed openly or often. This article defines psychological and emotional control, why it’s important and how we may experience it in our lives.
Control is an underlying theme of our lives. So it’s particularly important that we know what it is and how we are affected by it. No matter what your goals, or where you want to go in life, the benefits of critically analyzing and understanding control will transfer into every aspect of your life.
Similar to practicing mindfulness and meditation, understanding control and how it affects our lives is imperative for emotional intelligence (EQ) and emotional well-being. It’s especially important for those who are feeling depressed or anxious, and will also relieve confusion for those who’ve experienced a narcissistic or abusive relationship.
When we are aware of how control affects us, when others are trying to control us, and when we try to controls others, we operate from a place of clarity. We make changes that will positively benefit our lives, and we improve and protect our emotional well-being.
What is Control?
“Control in the context of psychology generally refers to how a person regulates themselves or wishes to regulate their environment.”Wikipedia
It’s a lot more than who has the remote! When we think about control we may not think much about it… at least I didn’t. Before spending a decade to improve my emotional and mental well-being, control was just another word and something that came up from time to time.
However, control is a constant in our lives. Externally, it’s when we (or others) try to force the outcome of a situation; or when we (or others) try to force others (or us) to act in accordance with what we (or they) want. Internally, it’s when we focus on what we can control. For example: our emotions, thoughts, feelings, responses and reactions.
Why Control is Important
Control can come in many forms. For example, it may be a parent trying to control their child’s lives or a narcissist trying to control their partner. Control can be minor and it can also be life threatening. For those who try to control things they can’t, it can lead to depression, anxiety and stress which can then lead to not only mental but physical health problems.
When we are aware of control and how it affects our lives we are better able to manage how we respond. We gain confidence and clarity and we stop trying to control what we can’t so we can relax. Think of it like control being a tense muscle and our realization that we need to stop trying to control what we can’t control as a 90-minute massage with an amazing masseuse.
What We Can Control
When we focus on what we can control we gain emotional well-being.
When we focus on what we can control: our thoughts, feeling, perceptions, actions and emotions, we build our emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the #1 determinant of success. Trying to control things we can’t is a lack of emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is key to inner-peace and emotional well-being. I am living proof of that, and I suspect that in a few years multiple areas of study are going to be focused on EQ building for emotional well-being. (I got in the game early and I’m gonna be the mother of EQ, you watch 😉)
Focusing on what we can’t control is futile. It will just make us frustrated or feeling depressed or anxious. It’s literally trying to do something that’s impossible. It’s absolute madness!
What We Can’t Control
Trying to control others is futile and a recipe for stress, it’s growth inhibiting. Think of the child who was controlled by his parents. He wanted to be an electrician but was forced to be a doctor. He enjoys saving lives but feels an emptiness inside. His entire life he is living for someone else (his parents) and not for himself. His life is not his. It’s no life at all.
Trying to control situations drains our energy and can leave us frustrated. Trying to control others is futile and stupid.
Trying to control others is negatively impactful because we lose ourselves in the process. We can get so caught up in trying to control the other person we forget who we are. Melody Beattie discusses this in her book “Codependent No More” and mentions that when she stopped trying to control others she felt lost. She had been spending so much time trying to control others that when she stopped she didn’t know what to do with herself.
It’s also negatively impactful because it’s impossible. It’s like trying to be perfect. You’re never going to be perfect. Your chasing something thats unobtainable. It’s like trying to control the weather, aka it’s fucking insanity. When we try to control others or others try to control us no one wins. We’re all miserable and we have a world with narcissism, abuse, manipulation, depression, anxiety and suicide at alarming rates.
A therapist first introduced me to the idea of controlling parents. He suspected I isolated myself and was emotionally unavailable (even though I yearned for close relationships), because I was always, also longing for the autonomy I was not given as a child.
Essentially an inner-turmoil, mind fuck.
While learning abut control I had a lot of aha! moments and I felt more connected not only to myself but to the world around me. I found confidence and a fierceness. I found love for myself. It wasn’t the love I was looking for but it was the love I needed.
Sometimes I cry tears of joy while thinking about how happy and fortunate I am to have learned all of this. Oh man… here they come now, I have a face mask on and this is very inconvenient…
This article was very difficult to write. I felt I could have written an entire book about control! Legit, I am debating writing an entire book about it! It’s an extremely important topic that is absolutely IMPERATIVE for everyone to learn.
You can begin by reflecting on how you’ve experienced instances of control in your life. You can also start by listing things you can, can’t and can somewhat control like I did in my experiment here.
I’m not the same person I was before I learned about control. My hope is that when I share my experience and knowledge with you, you’ll gain clarity and your power back also.