A Coaching Power Tool Created by Sophia Tuckett
(Confidence Coach, CANADA)
You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside. Wayne Dyer
We are living in a world of planning where smartphones, calendars, and pop up reminders support our desire to control all aspects of our lives. We need to know When What, Where, and How we are going to spend our time.
Obsessing over how our lives are lived and organized has become common. We attempt to ensure it fits into the ideal vision we have created. Our careers are filled with endless goals while constantly striving to have more. There is also the desire for perfectionism in our personal lives and even our physical appearance.
Losing sight of our behaviors can lead to us becoming overly controlling and toxic to our loved ones. In this paper, we will explore how to take back our lives and ensure we are not overly obsessed with control.
Moving to a place of acceptance will help determine how we respond when plans do not happen the way we had expected. Practicing acceptance in every aspect of our lives can minimize controlling behaviors that are not reasonable. This will help us move forward.
The word Control means “the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events” (lexico.com)
How is control chipping away at your happiness?
The more control we experience, the more empowered we feel about achieving our desires and objectives. As a result, it improves our well-being. In turn, we feel independent. Studies have shown that individuals who consistently crave control usually have loftier goals and are likely to accomplish more.  “Can seeking control undermine happiness? The answer, it turns out, is yes. Seeking control is a good thing-but only up to a point. Beyond that point, the drive to control can make you miserable,” notes Raj Raghunathan 
Knowing that control can threaten happiness sometimes doesn’t change one’s obsession with control. The feeling of control can be similar to an insatiable craving. The obsession can grow to the point that the controller feels compelled to control everything around them. It has also been found that when people are placed in circumstances where they have very little control over what is happening around them, their blood pressure increases measurably. This points toward the reality that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Individuals in need of control can suffer measurably. (1)
Control as an Automatic Response
Some downsides of constantly living in a world of control burn out, relationship tension, and loneliness. Obsessive control pushes loved ones away. Friends and family may start to feel as if they are walking on eggshells as you become more overbearing.
“Some people need control because they grew up in an environment where they had very little of it. As kids, they were surrounded by chaos or inconsistency, said Tanvi Patel, LPC-S, a psychotherapist specializing in work with high achieving adults and adult survivors of trauma.”(2)
Margarita Tartakovsky highlights various scenarios where someone may have developed the desire for control during their childhood. Such scenarios include having parents with extreme moods or addiction or parents that cycle between being emotionally unavailable and then overly intrusive. (2)
The desire for stability is something we desire throughout our life and control can be seen as a path towards that goal. It may give us confidence that things will be predictable and stable. This is especially the case if it was not that way as a child. 
Happiness can only exist in acceptance. George Orwell
Ride the wave
Moving to a place of acceptance is not an easy journey but it is worth the effort. The way we live and respond to obstacles in our lives is a matter of choice.
Fighting against what we can’t change will lead to negative self-talk and a feeling of not being enough. Focusing on the present moment can facilitate acceptance while dwelling in the past prevents peace.
Knowing that the future will come regardless of the goals you have set or your level of preparation doesn’t mean you don’t stay committed to working hard for what you want. Staying focused on the present moment along this journey will open up opportunities, foster creativity, and increase joy.
Releasing the obsessive control of others and the rigid structure of When What, Where, and How things should be is a path towards acceptance. This is a journey and it will take time to let go of unnecessary control.
Break The Pattern
Triggers will show up daily as you move along this journey. Start with self-compassion as it will be a long ride and there is no shortcut to acceptance. You will have bad days where your controlling behaviors will get the best of you. Showing yourself kindness and compassion like your own best friend will help you avoid any unnecessary pressure.
Putting self-compassion first will help prevent you from feeling discouraged during the days where you are not moving forward at the expected pace. Keep in mind that baby steps are a part of the process so you will see no value in beating yourself up over a bad day.
Focus on the reality in your life “Now”. There may be some anger, nervous tension, and irrigational disappointment along the way, but approaching these feelings with honesty and acceptance will relieve the added pressure in your life. There will be no clarity if you are not honest about your feelings. Taking the time to be still will bring added awareness of the feelings that are being experienced at any given time. Start by taking a series of deep focused breaths to label what is being felt and why. That way the feelings can be pinpointed and explored at a deeper level.
Taking these new actions will be life-changing. The conscious choice to apply self-compassion, honesty, and stillness will heighten awareness and result in the acceptance needed to move forwarded with a healthy perspective that lets go of the uncontrollable.
Acceptance and Our Client
Coaches help clients identify the blind spots that could be hindering the client from taking the essential steps needed to make lasting change in their lives. A client that has control issues holding them back will need added support to peel back the triggers and underlying beliefs. The support of a coach is a positive asset for anyone willing to push forward to make lasting change.
Here are a few questions a coach may ask:
- What responsibility do you need to take to move forward?
- How could acceptance help you right now?
- What values does this behavior reflect?
- What have you learned from this?
- What could you do to make life a better experience moving forward?
- What is the legacy you want to leave behind?
- How can you live each day with an open heart?
- If you could create the world around you, what would it look like?
The coach takes an objective approach with the questions and challenges the client to think thoughtfully while holding them accountable to make the lasting change they seek in their lives. Keeping the space judgment-free and safe gives the client the ability to develop new awareness and clarity.
Looking back on my life revealed “Control” as a critical puzzle piece for this paper. I have found myself immersed in acceptance and I took the time to figure out how I got here and why.
The word “Acceptance” resonates with me on a deeper level as there were points in my life where I could have avoided stress and worry if I would have implemented more Acceptance into my daily life. Fighting against reality never pushed me ahead. Instead, it held me back and brought more of what I didn’t want or need. Developing a deeper self-awareness helped bring acceptance into my life. Coming to a point of Acceptance in my personal life has taught me to always seek out the change I want to see while letting go of the stress and fear of not having what I wanted right then and there.
The why started with parenting and not realizing I was controlling in any shape or form. In the early years of raising my oldest daughter, I believed my way was the only right way. I did not realize how controlling I was being with her though. It wasn’t until I had my second daughter that I had a tough realization. I noticed the energy that I was using to control my oldest daughter when I had to split my attention between the two of them. I noticed that I was being a “helicopter parent” with my oldest. She was headstrong and would not budge on all of my rules. Although she was only 3 at the time, I felt as if I was fighting against myself. This was leaving me to disappoint and frustrated. This wasn’t how I wanted to parent my kids. I felt defeated! Somehow I knew deep down that it wasn’t about my daughter. It was about me. Trying to control everything did not foster stability. It did the opposite. I spent weeks reflecting in my journal about when I felt the most frustrated. After two or more weeks of reflecting without judgment, I noticed that I was naturally coming to a place of acceptance with my girls. Spending the time to reflect daily opened me up to new awareness about who I wanted to be as a parent and ways to start implementing it into my life. I completely let go of the idea of molding my daughter into the vision I had for her. I still had rules to ensure she was respectful and kind to others but embraced the fact that she was her person. I was constantly asking myself “how can I accept today and this moment in time?”. Meditation and exercise soon became a daily habit I heavily leaned on to achieve a clear state of mind for creativity and improved interactions with my family.
We all know that kids don’t come with a handbook, but they come into our lives to consistently teach and challenge us while we learn about ourselves. Over the years, surrendering to acceptance hasn’t been easy as a parent, wife, or colleague yet it has allowed me to grow, stay authentic and vulnerable with my loved ones.
RAJ RAGHUNATHAN: Why Losing Control Can Make You Happier | (2016)
Margarita Tartakovsky: When You Crave Control of Everything M.S (2018)