Control, Structure Routines and Anxiety
It is human psychology that we need routine and structure to feel safe. But when we are anxious sometimes this can lead to controlling behaviours, OCD tendencies and upset and frustration that we cannot stop our world or control our world from changing and evolving.
You may have seen or heard online various things about what you can and can’t control Stephen Covey shares 3 circles, the circle of control the inner circle, circle of influence things you can influence but may not have direct control over, then the circle of concern (sometimes known as the circle of no control.
When dealing with anxiety structure can be so valuable. Building in repetitive routines, actions and a lifestyle that supports you. Creating your non negotiables for health. This could be things such as morning meditation, not drinking alcohol, getting to bed by a certain time, going to a weekly yoga class. This sense of structure and self-care is nourishing and supportive.
When my anxiety was at its peak I would try control things such as how clean my house was, the time we ate, that everyone would have to fall into my plan or else I would spiral. This is where the circle of influence comes in. Yes I can keep my house tidy but with 3 children I need a degree of flexibility as it wasn’t fully within my control. I was fighting a lost battle.
Then comes the we must on a walk today, we must get to the airport 3 hours before we leave. Now for these 2 examples there are some things which may be completely out with my control. Taking the kids for a walk, what if the weather is insane, there’s a storm then that ultimately will not work. Do I have control over the weather? Nope. Then for getting to the airport in time for a flight. Yes I can do all I can, leave early etc, but if there is an accident on the road, or a delay in traffic can I prevent that? Nope.
So as you can see there really is these 3 areas of control.
Thank you @lifehack for this image. You can read more there too: https://www.lifehack.org/927324/circles-of-control
In the serenity prayer we are reminded:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”
This is a beautiful reminder to check in with.
What can you control?
Anxiety is often triggered when parts of our life feel out of control, or unsafe. So finding ways to build in safety and control can begin to support the balance of chaos and calm.
I was regularly called a control freak when my anxiety was at its worst. I totally understand if this is where you currently are at.
Meditation and mindfulness were a saviour in supporting me to move into a space of acceptance of what I could and couldn’t control.
Looking at the things you can control typically your thoughts, behaviors, actions, reactions, attitude, decisions, effort can you make your focus on these things and release the others?
This is an absolute practice for sure. How can you structure your day, week and life to best support you?
How do you want to show up?
Begin to take ownership of your thoughts, reactions behaviors? Are they supporting you in feeling calm or fueling you to react and feel more anxious and stressed.
All of this is food for thought.
Things you can control, your diet, sleep, prep for day ahead laying out clothes, having a tidy up before bed, making your bed, reducing overwhelm in whatever ways you can . What makes you feel good, can you do more of that, can it become non-negotiable?
What’s your thoughts? I’d love to hear.
p.s prefer to watch me speaking about this you can do this here on YouTube: https://youtu.be/um5OMUNS2gI
Or check out the podcast on apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/be-free-with-susi-mcwilliam/id1587923194
Or Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3bwzRqYW9KmYcDqj5t5bLg?si=e1616861ba5b42bd