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How Your Sense of Control Can Affect Your State of Mind

Do you ever feel like life is pressing in on all sides—like your environment and circumstances are completely out of your control? Overwhelming feelings of stress and worry can indicate that something needs to change, but they can also be a sign that your sense of control over your life and choices is not as strong as it could be, given mental health illnesses and addiction issues. 

It’s normal to sometimes feel like you do not have the power to affect your reality. However, understanding how much agency and choice you do have in any situation can help you reframe your perspective to empower and liberate yourself from stress-inducing thoughts.  

In this blog post, we’ll explore how your sense of control affects your state of mind so that you can learn how to keep your emotions balanced as you navigate life. 

Stress and Loss of Control 

Experiencing a loss of control in your life can have an unfavorable impact on your mental health. Stress is one of the biggest issues in today’s world, and it only worsens when you feel overwhelmed by events and situations that are out of your control. This can take its toll on your well-being as both physical and mental symptoms of stress—such as fatigue, body aches, anxiety, depression, restlessness, impulsivity, and irritability—arise.  

Loss of control or perceived loss of control has a huge impact on your mental health and well-being. When you do not feel like you’re in control, it can lead to intense feelings of depression or anxiety. You may start to ruminate on why you could not act the way you wanted to or how the situation affected you adversely. These thoughts can quickly spiral out of control and take you down the rabbit hole if you do not learn to assess, examine, and manage them properly.  

Perhaps worst of all is when uncontrollable circumstances last a long time; this prolonged uncertainty can lead to developing negative emotions that affect your outlook on life. As a result, feeling like you lack agency and control or have little to no choice to act differently, can cause or worsen Mental Health Disorders such as Anxiety Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, or Addiction Issues. 

The Dangers of the Illusion of Control 

Feeling like you have no agency can lead to stressful experiences and serious mental health problems, but there are also consequences that stem from feeling like you have too much control. The illusion of control—which involves feeling like you can control everything, everyone, or that everything is within your control—also leads to feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, worsening addiction issues, and other Mental Health Conditions. Disorders like OCD, Gambling Addictions, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, Gaming Addictions, and more can develop from or worsen with illusory control.  

For example, many OCD rituals revolve around the need for control. Consider the belief that if you repeat a certain phrase three times, you can prevent something bad from happening. This feeds into the illusion of control by reinforcing the false belief that you can prevent negative experiences. It also creates a high level of responsibility by causing you to believe you alone are in charge of preventing negative situations from occurring. These mindsets create feelings of stress, anxiety, perfectionism, and other adverse or irreversible consequences. Furthermore, these experiences can exacerbate Mental Health Disorders and Addictions that stem from the need for total control over everything and everyone. 

Controlling What Happens vs. Controlling Reactions 

You cannot always control what happens to you, but you are always in control of your reactions, decisions, choices, words, and behaviors. In fact, taking control of your reactions is one of the best skills you can practice and develop in life, relationships, and work. When a difficult or disappointing situation arises, you have the power to reframe negative thoughts and face the challenge with a productive and constructive mindset to be solution oriented and avoid creating chaos in your life. Even when you cannot change your circumstances, your responses and reactions can change the kind of experience you have.  

When faced with challenging circumstances, it helps to step back and reassess the situation. By controlling your perception and responses, you can reframe any issue and find a positive, productive, and constructive way forward that better serves your future and current predicament.  

Strategies To Take Back Control of Your Life 

Knowing that you should control your emotions and thought patterns in a positive manner is different from actually doing so. How can you learn better emotional regulation and modulation of your affect to gain more control over yourself and your circumstances? With the help of a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, you can learn key strategies, concrete tools, and scientific techniques that will help you face adversity and maintain a healthy sense of control. Here are a few ways a Licensed Clinical Psychologist can help you through expert treatment models involving evidence-based therapies. 

Break Unhealthy Patterns 

One highly effective strategy to increase your sense of control and mental clarity is to break unhealthy thought patterns. Identifying negative behavior patterns and maladaptive forms of thinking is the first step in replacing those negative responses with more positive and productive habits. By doing this, you’ll be able to make a real difference in managing your daily anxieties. Taking back control of your internal dialogue is often a powerful first step toward creating a more positive outlook that can lead to enhanced personal fulfillment.  

Therapies like Mentalization-Based Treatment and Dialectical Behavior Therapy help you improve emotional regulation and other necessary habits that teach you to identify unhealthy thought patterns and replace them with more positive, productive thoughts and behaviors. 

Accept Negative Experiences 

Accepting negative experiences is essential if you want to take ownership of your thoughts and emotions.  Not only that but accepting negative circumstances also gives you a sense of control over them. With greater awareness, you become more equipped to take ownership of your thoughts and emotions so that you can become more resilient and make the most of difficult situations. It helps to reframe any difficult experiences as challenges that need tackling; this gives you a sense of control over unfortunate circumstances. This, in turn, teaches you to make active changes in the way that you think or act.  

Licensed Clinical Psychologists might use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy alongside other treatments to teach patients how to accept and take ownership of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. With this form of treatment, you learn to feel more in control of your actions and reactions in both challenging circumstances and normal day-to-day life. 

Work With a Professional 

Working with a professional to learn strategies that give you more control over your thoughts, behaviors, and mindset can have many benefits. Licensed Clinical Psychologists have the training and experience necessary to identify and address the way your sense of control affects your state of mind. By drawing upon their expert perspective, your Licensed Clinical Psychologist can help you work through personal setbacks and create a healthier, more confident outlook on your life. 

Regain Control With Blair Wellness Group 

At Blair Wellness Group, we know that regaining a sense of control and authority is often the key to improving mental and emotional health. We offer evidence-based therapies, concierge treatment plans, and life coaching services to help address and fix the unique challenges each individual client faces. Visit us today to learn more about our Irvine life coaching services and see how we can help you work through challenges to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health. 

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