It is the mind that tells us that we do or should have control over something, when in fact we may not (So, why go there anyway!?). These false expectations around control add to our worry list (when we could rather just let them go).
What do we really have control over?
Take this quick ‘test’ [adapted from Forsyth & Eifert, 2007], by reading each statement and noting which ones you believe you can control.
1. How often I think about something.
2. Whether I do something I say I will.
3. Whether other people do what they say they will do.
4. What choices I make.
5. How others respond to my choices.
6. How I spend my time.
7. What someone else is thinking.
8. My values and what is important to me.
9. What I feel at any given point.
10. How I behave towards people.
11. How nervous I get.
12. The direction I want to go in my life.
We can also use reality-checking and problem-solving skills to help us when worry/stress does happen. [And, it is interesting to note one’s level of worry before and after using these skills.]
Reality Checking: This helps one keep perspective about a concern (e.g., getting sick from touching something).Explore the evidence in support (e.g., germs can be picked up from contact) or not in support of the situation(e.g., I don’t always get sick when I touch something).
Problem Solving: This helps someone deal with a situation. Let’s take the above germ situation. What can’t I control? (e.g., touching the door knob). What can I control? (e.g., what I can touch it with; cleaning hands afterwards.) What steps can I take around what I can control? (e.g., using a paper towel; using anti-bacterial lotion in purse after.)