Neil Thompson’s Lesson for Living – Take control

Having little or no sense of control is a key factor in stress. People who are under immense pressure will often not get stressed while they have some degree of control over those pressures. At the same time, some people can face fairly modest levels of pressure, but be highly stressed because they have little sense of control over the circumstances they are in. Control, or our sense of control, will often be the difference between being stressed and not. A vicious circle can easily develop in which feeling stressed affects our coping abilities and then we feel that we have less control. Our sense of control goes down and down.

Similarly, control is a factor in anxiety. People who are feeling anxious much of the time will generally have concerns about control – feeling very uneasy about either what they can’t control (what is often referred to as ‘worry’, emotional energy going into things we can do little or nothing about) or what they can control (often referred to as Angst or anguish – anxiety about making the wrong choice or getting a decision wrong). Worry and anguish can be very different, with different causes and different consequences. However, what they have in common is our sense of control (or lack of it). Feeling anxious can make us feel even less in control, and so another vicious circle around control develops – anxiety begets anxiety …

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