I used to feel like control was more important than anything. Sometimes I feel like my whole entire life has been a battle to gain control. When I was a kid I felt like I had no control over anything except my school work, so I hyperfocused on it.
As a young adult, my anxiety was spiraling out of control and I tried to control everything. My job, relationships, friendships, family dynamics, and it made everything worse because as hard as you try, you just can’t control life and you definitely can’t control other people.
As I got older, I learned that there were things I could control – where my boundaries are, how I choose to react to things, who I let into my life. And having control over those things feel so good.
I learned to pay attention to the symptoms of stress that I was experiencing and then I asked myself what I could do to make it better. There were things I could control, I just couldn’t control everything. I had to learn that it all ended with me. I couldn’t expect anyone else to swoop in and fix my life. One of the best lessons I’ve ever had to learn was how important it is to help yourself.
I’m also learning to add a little spontaneity to my life, to stretch my comfort zone, let go, and just enjoy the adventure that is life.
And learning to allow anxiety and adventure to coexist has helped my anxiety more than trying to be in control 24/7 ever has.
Last week, my wife asked me if she could take me on a secret date. My initial reaction was “No way, tell me what it is!” but on second thought, I decided to just go with it. She would pick an activity and a place to have lunch and I’d have no hint what it was other than to dress comfortably (I never dress anyway other than that, so win!). No looking up the place beforehand, no picking out what I want to eat before I get there – all things that I usually do.
And the result? I had the best time. I wasn’t nervous or anxious and after our date, we aimlessly drove around sightseeing with no direction. It really showcased how far I’ve come in my journey and how good it feels to let go of control.
If this is something you struggle with, you are so not alone. Keep working those mental muscles with coping skills, self-talk, and whatever tools are working for you. As the world collectively begins to focus more and more on mental health and there are more and more open jobs in psychiatry the ability to find a treatment that works for you and a professional that will help you on your journey when it comes to treating your anxiety.