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 doing.
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 over it.
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.
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Direct Your Mind, and Self-Reliance, Translated. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.