Stress & Control 

Stress is something that at one point in our lives we will all experience. Levels of stress vary from person to person, but a lot of times our stress boils down to one thing: control. We seek to control so many aspects of our life, and when we have to let go of that control or we recognize that we are trying to control too many things, our stress levels increase. To explore this topic, there’s 3 important questions that we have to ask:  

  1. How does control manifest? Control can look like a lot of different things for different people. For some, it might mean constantly checking in on someone they’re in charge of to make sure they’re doing the task right. For others, it might mean avoiding delegation, and therefore taking on more tasks yourself. Control can also include us being obsessive over controlling how we’re perceived. This might mean that you’re constantly saying “yes” to people out of fear that they’ll be upset with you if you say “no.” Or, it could be when we stay up until 2am preparing for a presentation so that everyone thinks we know what we’re talking about. Control can look like a lot of different things, but analyzing our behaviors can help us understand what they’re stemming from. If you can determine that your behaviors are stemming from control, it might be healthy to rethink them.  
  1. Why do we seek to control? One main reason that we seek control is that we lack trust in what we are attempting to control. If you’re a supervisor constantly trying to control your employees, maybe it’s because you haven’t given them the opportunity to build trust with you. If you’re always trying to control who your boyfriend hangs out with, maybe it’s because you don’t trust him enough to make their own decisions. Additionally, control can stem from many other reasons. These include traumatic life experiences and events, anxiety, mental illnesses (such as OCD), etc.  
  1. How to we let go of control? Letting go of control is a practice that gets better with experience. In other words, the more we do it, the better we get at it. If you’ve decided that maybe it’s time to start to let go of control in your job, maybe this means that you start to delegate certain tasks to other employees. The first time doing so might be difficult and maybe even painful, but the more and more you do it, the more it will feel natural. When we let go of control, we give the opportunity for trust to be built. And as mentioned above, when we have trust, we seek less control.  

Letting go of the control in your life does not guarantee that your stress will go away. However, it’s a good first step. If you feel overwhelmed and buried too deep in all that your life entails, I challenge you to take a step back and question why you’re holding onto so much control and consider what areas of your life you can start to let go of control.  


By Lexi Breunig