Reduce Stress – Don’t be a control addict!

controlHave you ever known a person that has to be in control?  In fact they must tell others – especially those close to them – what they need to do all of the time.  There are a number of reasons that a person may be a ‘control freak’, but rarely do they see themselves as that controlling person.  Unfortunately the need to control others is also a factor in feeling more stressed and ultimately to anger.

As a parent, my personal need to control may be justified with the reasoning ‘that I know what is best for you’, or ‘I am just trying to protect you’.  This is reasonable with the youngest of children, but as they get older it becomes a problem if we are not willing to give them choices and a voice in decisions about themselves.  It may also be a problem for us as we may feel anger and behave in an angry manner.

Conflict, stress and angry behavior occur when the other party begins to push back.  With a child this may happen at a very young age or it may wait longer till their tween years.  If it does wait till the tween’s and we as parents have become comfortable and even desire having that control, the push back can get pretty ugly.

If we find ourselves feeling stressed and feeling angry, maybe even raising our voice and behaving in a manner that we know is not setting the right example, think about the following possibilities.

Rather than trying to control every little thing, give the child (young or teen) choices (with some leeway) and consequences for their behavior.  That way they can choose to do – not to do – what you want (and experience – or not experience – the consequences).  To continue to feel good about yourself, you must be willing to be good with the choices you or they are suggesting and be willing to enforce the consequences.
Consider an example of a teen that is late coming home even though he/she has promised to do so by a certain time.  The solution is to set a time with leeway (of possibly 15 minutes) or lose a predetermined privilege that all have agreed to.  As the parent you maintain control in a reasonable manner and you have given the choice of compliance or consequence to the child or teen.  Think of your own examples of how this concept might work in your family.  This practice will reduce the stress you are feeling from not being in complete control.

How to Reduce Stress: An Action Plan That Keeps You In Control

This really brings us back to the beginning when we first started talking about this subject of stress.  Stress is the direct result of feeling like there is too much to do, relationship issues, deadlines to meet and feeling like we have lost control of our selves, our lives and sometimes even our feelings.  In the martial arts what we teach students is a Black Belt Success Cycle. black belt success cycle
The Black Belt Success Cycle goes like this:
Know what you want
Have a plan and a success coach
Take consistent action
Review your progress and renew your goals
Here is how this relates to reducing stress.
1.  First you must know what you want / or what the problem is.  Can you identify what you feel is wrong.  When, Why and Where is it happening?  What would you like to see happen that would make your life better?  What is your goal? 

2.  Brainstorm some ideas of how to reach your goal.  They do not have to make sense to you right now and you do not have to think of the perfect plan now.  Come up with many different ways that you believe you could solve the problem.  If you cannot think of any, talk to your supporters for their ideas and then get them written down.  Now it is time to select a solution.  You may want to have a ‘success coach’ as you weigh your different options and to help you stay on track.  Pick one that you believe will help you reach your goal and that you are comfortable with.

3.  Commit to working your plan and take consistent action. Persevere and do not give up.  If you have a ‘success coach’ they can help guide you and keep you on the path you have chosen.

4.  Review your progress. Is what you are trying working or not working?  Do you need to tweak a part of it or try something new altogether?  Has something changed for you, are the circumstances or end results the same as when you started on this path?  Regularly checking in and then renewing and sometimes revising your goals will keep you feeling like you are in control of your life and the decisions being made that effect you.

Making decisions and choices about your life is a key part of reducing stress.  In our next series of article we will discuss how to make the best decisions possible so that you stay on the path that will make you feel the best and result in the success you want out of your life.