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We all want to feel as though we are in control: control of our destinies, control of our feelings, even control of our eating habits. Often it may feel like we do not have control over anything in our lives, leading to feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. However, what if the control we do feel is an illusion?

The illusion of control is defined as the belief that we as human beings have control over random events. An easy example of this would be gambling. Many gamblers believe that if they throw the dice a certain way or pick their numbers themselves rather than having them randomly assigned, they have a greater chance of winning. Logically most people know this is not the case but believing that we have this control can be comforting even when we know it isn’t true.

On the other hand, people also may believe they have little control over events or behavior when in fact the opposite is true. A good example of this is people who are trying to lose weight. Again, we all logically know that the best way to lose weight is to stick to a diet and exercise routine. However, many people may resign themselves to being overweight because they are unwilling/unable to recognize the control they have over this issue.

So where do we find the balance? First, we need to learn how to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances. This may be easier said than done. In those instances where we are looking for control, this may be an effort to feel more certain and secure in ourselves. To be flexible, we need to accept that we do not always have control over what happens to us, but we do have control over how we react. Our sense of security needs to change so that we become secure in our ability to cope with and adapt to whatever life may throw at us.

In the end, we may be best served by recognizing our own strengths and capabilities, while also being more mindful of the things we can and cannot control. Letting go of a need for or illusion of control may open us up to new possibilities that we never imagined before. Controlling our reactions rather than focusing on control of circumstances might just free us from those feelings of anxiety and hopelessness and allow us to see the beauty in life’s uncertainties.

For more information, click on the links below. Also, reach out to Main St. Psychiatry for help and support in gaining control of your reactions to whatever life may throw at you.

Original material found at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/perfectly-confident/201807/illusions-control