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The fantasy of total control as a coping mechanism

Posted on: August 21st, 2020 by Lysa Eastman

The fantasy of total control is alluring. If we could control how we feel, then we would feel better! In theory, that sounds great; however, emotions do not work that way. Emotions are an organic thing. They occur naturally in response to what triggered them. What makes our emotional experience so complex is we can experience conflicting emotions simultaneously, such as feeling sad about one event yet happy with another event. Often, when we are trying to control the unpleasant emotion, we turn our emotional experience into an all-or-nothing experience as we focus solely on the uncomfortable emotion. Conversely, what is within our control is how we try to respond to unpleasant emotions. In my experience, the attempt to control is a reaction rather than a response.

Michelle Konstantinovsky wrote the following article, and I feel it provides a clear non-clinical examination of how control as coping can go awry. The article also provides examples of activities that are within our control. As mentioned previously, the idea that stands out to me is identifying what is within our control. Such as planning our day or activity but recognizing we do not have ultimate control over the outcome. https://greatist.com/grow/control-freak#therapy

As mentioned at the end of the article, “It’s never a bad time to get a professional opinion”. If you would like to explore other coping skills to rely less on control, we can be contacted here: https://www.healthymynds.com/contact/

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