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The Stress of Control

By Blogger
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I think we all like to have some control in our lives. Some people want to have control of the entire world, others are happy with control of their own world, and still others really don’t care one way or the other; it’s really just a matter of degree.

Therein lies the kicker – the higher degree of control you require, the higher your stress level. Imagine how stressful it would be if you wanted, NEEDED, to be in control of world politics. YIKES! How frustrating would that be? Unbearable, I imagine, if you truly felt you had to have that control.

How about the weather? Fugeddaboudit!

Okay, these examples are ridiculous, but that’s the point. If you are wired such that you are stressed about needing control over things you cannot control, it’s time to consider re-wiring a bit.

We live in the mountains adjacent to a section of National Forest. There are beautiful hiking trails right outside our property complete with wildlife, a natural pond, stunning wild flowers, etc. The road in front of our home dead-ends at a locked gate that leads into this area, and there are several signs that say “No motorcycles” or “No motorized vehicles beyond this point” etc. Yet people still ride their motorcycles past the gate and people park beyond “that point” all the time.

There was a time when we would rush out there when we heard a motorcycle go into the forest to try to stop them. One night we heard a couple of ATV’s go into the forest at midnight and we jumped out of bed, called 911, and drove our car up to the street to try to catch them as they left the area. Do you think all of that is stressful?? You bet it is!

The frustration when we couldn’t stop them was incredibly stressful. When we did catch them, it became downright dangerous. My wife once confronted a man and his son who were racing through the forest on dirt bikes. The father got off his bike, physically lifted her up by the shoulders and moved her off of the trail as if she had been a log blocking their path, and they continued on. When the ATV’s came out of the forest during that midnight ride I just mentioned, one of them sideswiped our car causing $1,200 in damage.

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Thanks for a really thought-provoking SHARE, Dave.

It's hard to get over being a control freak or a perfectionist, because we actually accomplish things often enough to make us think we CAN be successful at it. Then along comes something called life, which throws all our efforts out the window one day and dares us to control it afterward.

So many people who have lost their jobs or homes recently are perfect examples of this. I have friends who did all the "right" things -- they went to college, got good jobs, worked hard for many years, and received promotions or raises or both. Suddenly they have become liabilities to the companies for which they work, and they are being let go because of the salaries they earn or the perceived expendability of their middle-management positions.

The possibility of simply choosing to not be stressed over change that is not in our control seems really hard to me, especially in those times when it seems like a person worked hard or followed the "rules," and then is unemployed and/or homeless without warning.

I saw a piece on television about a former Denver television newscaster who had a salary easily in the six figures who is now training as a vet tech after losing his job. His attitude was stellar and he loves going to work. He was inspiring and, I have to admit, puzzling to me. Has he just chosen to feel this way, or do some people simply rebound from imposed change more easily than others?

Like I said, lots to think about personally here. Thanks for the nudge.

May 26, 2009 - 8:26am
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