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Author Topic: Lack of Control  (Read 217 times)

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Offline SillySalmons

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Lack of Control
« on: January 15, 2014, 07:34:26 PM »
I think I've figured out what's behind my anxiety - my health anxiety, my fear of death, my fear of flying - I want control. I don't want to accept that I'm helpless and that things are going to happen to me that I won't be able to prevent. So in my attempt to gain some control, I try to be more "pro-active" and cautious - I try to convince myself that by obsessing and knowing the signs and statistics, I can protect myself from the inevitable and stop bad things from happening. But the truth is, I can't. I can't stop bad things from happening to me and it scares the hell out of me. A little over a year ago I was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition. Incidence is about 1 in 100,000. Meaning there was a 0.00001% chance that I could've gotten it, and what do you know, I got it. I lost a friend close to the same time to an even rarer genetic disease. And before that, a friend lost her mother to a surgery to repair her hearing that had almost no risk of death.

I just can't get used to the idea that these things can happen. Rare means nothing to me. If it happened to anyone, I know it can happen to me, and that's what makes it so hard for me to have trust in life and accept that bad things can and will happen. I don't want to let my guard down. How do you learn to do this? How do you learn to let go of what you can't control and accept the inevitable?
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Offline kconnors

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Re: Lack of Control
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2014, 08:24:22 PM »
My quick answer is I don't know . . .the longer version is that it can be done . . . .I had what I called  my Mr. Spock period in life where I believed that I could be in total control if I just thought things over enough and figured out all the variables and accounted for them, etc. I also believed that if it could happen to 1 person, it could happen to me (and I still, in all honesty, do have to manage that but not to the extent that I had to do previously --- everything is a process and not an event and even the process is not linear but iterative) . . .

I guess and it is only a guess that I came to accept that I was not "godlike" in that I could control nature and the actions of other people and it took the passing of my parents to bring this to a crisis if you will for me. I figured if I did everything in the prescribed way then I could in some way make them well . . . but, nature has its own rhythms and some of them beat a bit too quickly for our liking but we do not have any control . . . . traumatic events happen, rare events happen . . . they are traumatic and rare because we cannot predict them . . .

You ask how you accept the inevitable . . . I came to a point (and I don't really know how or when) that I decided that whatever was going to happen was going to happen . . . no, I did not take up skydiving, but I gradually assumed the role that I was going to live every moment that I had regardless of the number . . . barring nanotechnology and robotics and artificial intelligence, the one fact that all of us share throughout nature is that we will die . . . I don't particularly enjoy the fact but if I dwell on it then that means all I am doing is watching every second die without giving it a chance to reach its potential . . .doesn't have to be big stuff . . . today I dropped off a coffee to a colleague who had a bit of a bad presentation . . . made both of us feel better . . . she for herself and me for her because I did something with that time . . . I used to worry about performance failure . . . .what would people think if I mispronounced a word or lost my place, etc.? One day I went to a major presentation and I did just that on purpose . . .there, that fear was over with because no one even noticed it and if they did, then it was history shortly after . . . .

Sometimes, and it is not easy at least it is not for me, you just have to make the decision to start turning every controlled second into a second of living . . . again, I am not advocating taking unwise chances such as throwing butcher knives in the air . . . you need to strike a balance between caution which prevents accidents and control which strangely enough can often cause them . . .

Sorry I could be of more help . . . .but we are a very extensive community and I am sure others might be able to give you more effective advice . . .do let us know, though, how you are doing? Take care, kc
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Offline scb07d

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Re: Lack of Control
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2014, 08:57:21 PM »
Acceptance doesn't mean, "OK I accept that I can't control everything now I'll have no more anxiety."

It means you actually accept the anxiety itself. Maybe your brain is just averse to flying and the anxiety you feel when on a plane is just something you have to live with.

Your brain attempts to warn you about all the things that could go wrong in a given scenario because it's trying to make sure you're aware of these things to keep you alive. Some people have more of this than others. Trying to alter this experience or make it go away exacerbates the "problem."

The idea of Acceptance is that you accept how your body works and focus on meaningful activities in your environment. In fact, your anxiety may never go away. But instead of fighting it, you'll be doing things that are productive with your life (ostensibly).

Stuff like looking online for different diseases, avoiding flying on planes, etc is designed to control the physical experience of anxiety. But it doesn't really work. If you learn to accept the physical experience of anxiety in relation to a fear of planes/dying/public places or whatever it is, you can perhaps free up time to more impactful things in life.

So essentially, the way you accept anxiety is to realize that it isn't going anywhere and that the safety behaviors aren't truly helping.

That's just my view on things anyway.  :bigsmile:
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Offline i960

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Re: Lack of Control
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2014, 02:47:17 AM »
Quote from: scb07d
Stuff like looking online for different diseases, avoiding flying on planes, etc is designed to control the physical experience of anxiety. But it doesn't really work. If you learn to accept the physical experience of anxiety in relation to a fear of planes/dying/public places or whatever it is, you can perhaps free up time to more impactful things in life.

Great words. I'd also like to add that learning to accept the physical experience of anxiety also retrains the brain to recognize that indeed while the situation may be "threatening" now, in reality it isn't threatening and it should stop exciting the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).

If we had no adaptation against fear (rational or irrational) we'd never learn to overcome things we're afraid of at first. How many people felt anxious and scared the first time learning to drive a car as a teenager? Notice that that fear didn't last forever?

By far, trying to avoid anxious situations and in general exercising avoidance against anxiety/panic means the brain will never be taught to not be anxious over it. One has to straddle both the rational mind (which is aware and *accepting* that anxiety is driving things and it cannot harm) and the irrational mind (which believes harm is imminent) at the same time. Through this - the mind learns (or relearns).
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