Ruth Gordon

MA MSW LICSW

Office: 239.692.8060
Cell: 239.293.4314

Naples,

Florida

 

 

 

March 2017
Control - Really?

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    When I point out that no one has control over anything, a typical response from clients is indignation accompanied by a look that implies I have two heads.  I sigh (as a rule) and try to explain that I am taking away nothing. Control was never there, at all.
    When we are rational, we know that any situation can change at any time.  For some, this fuels previously held anxiety.  This increase in the level of anxiety causes more anxiety.  This, in turn, can become quite crippling.
    How about if we began to rely on the power within?  For all who are reasonably healthy and sane, all that is needed is the recognition that all the clout  we need is right there dwelling inside our corporeal being.
    I frequently urge my clients to remember that they are warriors. You may not feel like a warrior, but, trust me, you are.
    A very important ally is your emotional intelligence.  You have to start with getting to know who your are - who you really are.  If you find that daunting and possibly, shaming, you have a lot of company. Don't run away from the aspects of yourself that, you believe, threaten your ideology.  It is important to understand your strengths and vulnerabilities.
    When something important goes wrong, go to someone who will listen as you talk it out.  If you are stuck when you try to decide who you can go to, by all means treat yourself to a consultation with a therapist. Warriors, in real life, need the help of others in facing their battles. When we verbally investigate solutions a part of our brain kicks in and stimulates our ability to be resourceful. 
    This is the time to be strategic.  Put your options down on paper and carefully consider what will work best in your situation.  It can be helpful to have tentative plans A, B, and C.  You don't have to execute any of them.  What your backups will do is remind you that there are many answers to your dilemma, that your brain has not frozen, and doomsday is still in the future.
    Use your creativity.  Yes, you are capable of thinking "outside the box".  If what you have been doing has gone awry, it is to your benefit to try something new. 
    Investment executives will advise you to not put all of your eggs in one basket.  This advice also applies to how much of yourself you are willing to commit to any person, idea, situation, or venture.
    It is vital to parcel out a piece of yourself that is for you alone.  What I mean by this is never give away all the pieces of your core.  If your belief in yourself depends on anything from the outside, you will ignore the power of your intangible self and will feel needlessly vulnerable.
    It is not unusual, when we are floating in the euphoria of a new love, to believe that our beloved's presence is crucial to our feelings of being secure and whole.  Well, at some point one of you will leave the relationship.  Whether the change is voluntary or otherwise, one of you, will, eventually fall out of love, move or die.  
    This is one of the reasons that a break up of any sort may leave many of us feeling fragmented.  This rule applies to your work, your social status or anything else that you rely on to identify yourself.  I have spoken to any number of retirees who don't know who they are any more.  They don't know, or have forgotten, that the authentic self is untouchable and invaluable.
    Regardless of what life may deliver at your doorstep you will always have your beliefs and mores.  No one and nothing can take away the essential you.  Now, at times, almost all of us, for any number of reasons, act against who we are.  As a rule, that nagging feeling that something is not quite right gives us a warning signal.  Whether or not we heed the signal, we are still who we are.
    There are many ways in which we manifest our struggle to control the uncontrollable.  We participate in power struggles every day.  When we battle for a parking space, when we flip out over towels that are folded the wrong way, when we angrily argue about a political occurrence, we are, consciously or unconsciously, attempting to display our ability to have an impact on our environment. 
    Perfectionists need, whatever is defined as perfection, to feel safe.  It is, I think, evident that the need for control is what fires up this particular engine.  Being a purist is hard.  We never achieve our goals.  Our feeling of having shelter in an unpredictable world is always tenuous.
    When we remember that our inner strength is inviolable we understand that we can weather the uncertainties that will, surely, visit our doorsteps.  What is important is what we hold inside.  How do we regard ourselves?  Forget the outside world, what do you think about you?
     Many rely on their religious and spiritual beliefs to address the feelings of being pint-sized in an immeasurable universe.  I will leave that discussion to the theologians. 
    In the meantime warriors, battle on.  Treat yourselves with enlightened respect, be willing to change course, and you will be just fine. 

You can have fantasies about having control over the world, but I know I can barely control my kitchen sink. That is the grace I'm given. Because when one can control things, one is limited to one's own vision.
 Kiki Smith