Many individuals put great focus and effort into maintaining a total sense of control around all aspects of life. In the context of a busy life with multiple stressors and priorities pulling at you, there is a false sense of peace that comes from attempting to control everything. Unfortunately, this approach to life lends itself more to mental health problems and addictions to drugs like alprazolam than a healthy life.
Three Risks of Being Too Controlling
You may not realize it, but attempting to control or manage all aspects of your life and your family’s life is unhealthy in three distinct ways including the following:
- The desire to control can increase shame – When the desire to control everything is strong, it comes with the baggage of shame when something slips through the cracks. It is difficult, if not impossible, to separate the need to control from the sense of shame that comes when an unexpected event or tragedy happens. Shame is a powerful force. PsychCentral discusses the power of shame and defines its power in your life: “Shame is an intense global feeling of inadequacy, inferiority, or self-loathing. You want to hide or disappear. In front of others, you feel exposed and humiliated, as if they can see your flaws. The worst part of it is a profound sense of separation — from yourself and from others. It’s disintegrating, meaning that you lose touch with all the other parts of yourself, and you also feel disconnected from everyone else.”
- Control is often based in a desire for perfection – Many times what appears to be control is secretly a quest for perfection. This quest is invariably not accomplished for the simple reason that perfection is an unattainable goal. A person must be able to let go of the desire for perfection to have any true sense of joy.
- Control eliminates the ability to enjoy the journey – Most of life is a journey, full of unexpected detours, surprising turns and both painful and joyful moments. When the need to control steps to the forefront, it comes with an inability to enjoy the journey. Instead, life becomes a series of lists or checkboxes that must be completed to move on to the next list.
Taking Steps Toward Releasing Control
Letting go of control is a vital part of every person’s life, particularly in the journey toward fun. However, it is no easy task. Nobody can wake up one day and just decide to stop worrying about controlling. No, it takes time, effort and intentionality. There is no guaranteed path to releasing control, but the following ideas will help you on your path:
- Accept the fact that, no matter what, you are not in control of everything – No matter how hard you try, you will never control everything. It is not possible, and the quicker you arrive at this understanding, the better it will be for you. Accepting this comes in stages and is easiest to start with bigger things and gradually move into the more specific one. For example, it is far easier to agree that you do not control the weather patterns in southeast Asia, but much more difficult to accept that sometimes your children will get stuck in the rain without an umbrella. Both are true.
- Consider the beauty of what you don’t control – There is much beauty in the world that exists outside of your control, but it is far too easy to miss. Try an experiment on a cloudy day to experience unexpected beauty in the midst of your day. Start by watching this TED Talk, and then take the speaker’s advice. Watch some clouds, and allow your imagination to get some exercise of its own.
- Instead of perfection, try setting realistic and attainable goals – Most difficult things in life do not come immediately but are rather the function of long-term movement in a particular direction. Keeping this in mind, give yourself grace with the roles and responsibilities you have in your life. Instead of expecting perfection, set goals that are reachable, and strive toward them. When you reach one goal, set the next.
A Desire for Control Can Lead to Addiction
Refusing to accept the truth that you are not in control can very easily lead into a place of great unhealthiness an even addiction to drugs like alprazolam. As life begins to get hectic and the demands for the different roles and responsibilities you have begin to increase, it can become overwhelming. At some point, the thought will pop into your head, “I cannot do this alone.”
This is the trigger point for a great deal of unhealthiness, including addiction. It may lead to you exchanging much needed sleep in order to have more productive hours in your day. While cutting sleep can be effective in the short-term, there is a shelf life on this. Your body needs sleep to recover and perform at optimum levels.
Going a step beyond sleep deprivation can lead to drug addiction and abuse. You might seek medicinal assistance either for anxiety or insomnia, but these medications cannot solve the root problem. In time, if you choose not to make the necessary changes in your life, you will need more. This is where you might find yourself moving from a reasonable prescription to more, either in the context of additional pills or additional substances. Once you arrive in this place where you are dependent upon drugs like alprazolam to maintain your lifestyle, you are battling an addiction.
If you find yourself here, know you are not alone. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admissions counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about your substance abuse. They can help you find your way.
 http://psychcentral.com/lib/shame-the-core-of-addiction-and-codependency/, “Shame: The Core of Addiction and Codependency,” Darlene Lancer, accessed January 17, 2016
 https://www.ted.com/talks/gavin_pretor_pinney_cloudy_with_a_chance_of_joy?language=en, “Cloudy with a Chance of Joy,” Gavin Pretor-Pinney, accessed January 17, 2016