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How to overcome the fear of losing control

Appointments, deadlines, meetings with friends, sports courses, healthy cooking - most people have to plan their everyday life well in order to get everything under one roof. Despite the calendar and notebook, we sometimes tend to want to keep a lot in mind. Many people feel that they have to have everything in view and under control. When this is the case, the fear of losing control often arises slowly, but sometimes also suddenly. How is this fear of loss of control manifested and what can you do about it?

What is control

Regardless of whether we are trying to control another person's behavior or future events and processes - this is never entirely possible. Absolute control is an illusion. However, with good planning, we can gain a sense of control. The need for control and self-determination is even one of our basic needs. We want to be able to make our own decisions, which is perfectly fine. Our need for control only becomes a problem when we control too much and can no longer relax as a result. Or when we want to control things that are beyond our control. This desire can increase to the point of fear of losing control.

Control of thoughts, feelings and behavior

"Don't think of a pink elephant now!" I'm sure you know thought experiments like this one. It is meant to show that it is not possible to control our own thoughts. As a result, a pink elephant usually appears in our head as soon as we hear this request. It is the same with our feelings. Whether you feel sad, angry or happy - unfortunately there is no internal switch or trick that you can use to control these feelings.

The only thing within your control is your own behavior. You can indirectly influence your thoughts, feelings, events or other people through your behavior.

How can I gain more control?

By being aware of your behavior and actively choosing it, you can influence your thoughts, feelings and your environment. When you do things that you enjoy, you are more likely to feel comfortable. By being kind to others, they may also be kind to you. If you plan your wedding carefully, you will likely be more satisfied with the outcome than if you let it all happen spontaneously.

Do you feel scared and passed out? Think about it, what you can do nowto change your situation for you. This way you can regain a sense of control even when there is no guarantee that certain events will occur.

What is behind the fear of losing control?

As mentioned at the beginning, we often have high demands on ourselves. Very few of us wake up in the morning and think about what to do with our day in a relaxed manner. Most of the time we have obligations, concrete ideas and tasks that we want to tackle as successfully as possible. When these demands pile up and we don't have a day off in between to relax our head and body, we can feel overwhelmed. Perhaps our article on self-care can also help you in this context.

Overstrain and loss of control

What thoughts go along with the fear of losing control? Most of the time it is thoughts like: "How am I supposed to keep all of this in mind?", "I can't do it all." Or: "I'm slowly going crazy / losing my mind!" These thoughts indicate excessive demands.

They are an important indication that a little is too much for you right now. Instead of feeling inadequate or threatened, you can use fear of loss of control as a helpful psyche sign to do less.

Overcoming Fear of Loss of Control: Two Strategies

In summary, you can take the following strategies into your everyday life against the fear of losing control:

  1. Control your own behavior

Do your best to exert a positive influence on your thoughts, feelings, circumstances and other people - however, be aware that there is no guarantee of perfect success.

  1. Make it easier for you

If you notice thoughts and the feeling of being overwhelmed, dare to do less or give up tasks. Become aware of your own demands and give yourself enough breaks.

Thought experiment

What is the worst that could happen?

To find out more about your very own fear of losing control, you can do the following interesting thought experiment:

Go over in your mind what would actually happen if you "lost control". How would that be expressed and what would be the consequences? Would you ignore certain tasks? If yes, which? Are you preoccupied with what others might think of you when you are no longer functioning “perfectly”? Would you go overboard, overeat, drink or smoke? Do something that does not suit you in your eyes and that you would never trust yourself to be "controlled"?

In most cases, you will find that the consequences of losing control are not so severe or long-term.

Courage to lose control

A third strategy for confronting your fear of losing control is to develop the courage to allow yourself to lose control. Paradoxically, by making this conscious choice, you regain some degree of control. How can this work?

Perhaps you found through the thought experiment in the last paragraph that the dreaded loss of control would not have such terrible consequences. Finally, giving up some control can also mean allowing yourself more freedom. Having no control can make us anxious or even panic on the one hand. On the other hand, the pleasant feeling of "trusting uncertainty" can also arise.

In this respect, the fear of losing control can also be an invitation to try something new, to do different things and to experience unexpected aspects of yourself. Maybe you want to experiment a little with it in your everyday life?

Categories Anxiety & PanicTags Tension, expectations, control, excessive demands