WHAT YOU AND I HAVE control over in our
lives has a lot to do with what we say we can control.
I know a woman who doesn't think she can control her anger. But
her anger is causing a lot of trouble in her marriage and it
would make a huge difference in her life if she learned to restrain
at least her expression of anger.
But she "can't."
What doesn't ring true about that is the
several times I've seen her angry and then the phone rang or
someone came to the door and she answered pleasantly. She is
obviously capable of controlling her expression of anger
but because she says she can't, she doesn't try, and if she won't
try, of course she can't!
There is an enormous range of activities
over which we have control but think we don't. And because we
think we don't, we don't. We cut ourselves off from a source
of power by repeating Scottie's mantra on Star Trek: "I
don't have the powerrr!" We can't effect those changes we
would like in our lives only because we say we can't.
Now some extremists have taken this sane
and practical truth and gone overboard with it. You don't
create reality. You can't control everything. A famous coach
once said to those who think anything is possible, "try
dribbling a football."
But many of your own feelings and behaviors
are firmly under your influence but only if you allow
the possibility that they are.
David K. Reynolds and his teachings on
Constructive Living has also gone too far, saying that
we can't control our feelings. I think his work is excellent,
don't get me wrong. I love his principles and I know they are
powerful and practical: Know your purpose; accept your feelings;
do what needs doing.
He suggests that you don't really need
concern yourself with your feelings and actually he's got a point,
especially for those people who indulge far too much in their
feelings and don't use their head enough. Maybe those are the
kind of people Reynolds is trying to reach. But you and I can
change the way we feel. One good way to do it, in fact, is to
stop worrying about how you feel and get busy doing what needs
And I think that as long as we're doing
something, we might as well feel good and enjoy it. No sense
in being hot and uncomfortable when you're sitting right next
to a thermostat. Turn it down! Most people don't know how to
change their feelings, in large part because somewhere along
the line they got the impression they couldn't change their feelings.
But you can, and by God, you should!
In studies of job stress, researchers have
found one key factor that makes job stress impair your health:
The stress is worst on your health if you feel you have no control
Let's look at what this means for us. The
events in your life that cause you anxiety are partly causing
you anxiety to the degree you feel you have no control over them.
If you can gain some control over it, the stress of it has less
impact on your body.
Even being bothered by anxiety is stressful,
again depending on how much control you feel you have over it.
With the tools on this web site, you have the ability to take
more control of your stress, which removes one of your stressors:
The stress of not being able to control your stress.
Watch what you say you can't
because your belief can sometimes make it so.