Life is often out of control. Sometimes it’s in an area or two where you feel powerless, and other times it feels like your whole world has been flipped upside down.
I’m currently in one of those situations where I truly have no control. I’m powerless and all I can do is wait. I feel so out of control! As I process my current journey, I seek to respond in emotionally healthy ways in order to deal with the difficulty of waiting for answers and outcomes.
Whether it’s about struggling with feeling powerless over health concerns, not being able to control the actions of others, waiting for news, or for someone to make a decision, being out of control can bring waves of anxiety, sadness, fear, and sometimes also a thrilling excitement. If you’re like me and struggle with these feelings, here’s some ways to cope.
Healthy Ways to Cope when you feel out of control:
Look at what you can control
When we feel out of control, it can be good to take a step back and look at what we actually CAN control. People tend to focus more on the negative and only see where they are restricted, but forget that there are things that you get to control. One of the easiest things we get to control is US! Our mood, attitude, response and actions- these are all things we can choose to change how we feel about our circumstance. Making a healthy choice in what you can control helps ease the struggle of the areas that you can’t.
Let it go
It’s easy to become obsessive in our thinking when we feel out of control. We play out 100’s of scenarios, the conversations and responses we would have, and the catastrophic outcomes for each of them. The problem with this, is that it only creates more anxiety. Going through all the possibilities doesn’t actually prepare you for what’s going to happen. When we “practice trauma” in our heads, we carry all the emotions from the imagined situation even though it didn’t actually happen. It’s much healthier to let go of all the spiraling thinking and stay focused on what’s right in front of you.
Pray to the one who has control
There’s so much in life that we don’t have control over, but we do have access to the One who’s in control of everything. For me personally, this is my most used coping skill when I feel out of control. Relying on God, surrendering my fears to Him, and reading His Word for guidance and comfort gives me peace. Trusting that the struggle has a meaning and purpose that only He knows reassures me that the current moment of struggle is not a waste, but is an opportunity for growth.
Look for ways to grow
Every good, bad, and ugly thing in life is an opportunity for us to learn and grow. Hardships are some of our biggest growth spurts! When you feel out of control, it’s good to take a moment to reflect on what you’re learning, how it’s refining you, and what you can do with the lesson from it. Sometimes I learn a lot about God and my faith in these times. Other times I see things in myself that need to change – like my selfishness or my desire to control things in my own way. Being out of control doesn’t feel good, but it can become something good when we use it as a chance to learn and grow as a person.
Many people turn to unhealthy ways to cope when feeling out of control- like addictions, becoming controlling, and selfish anger. Next time you are tempted to go down one of those unhealthy paths, think about these ways to cope, and see how it makes a difference.
What things are most difficult for you to be out of control of?