Words by Psychotherapist Jane Faulkner
Many people come to my practice complaining that they want to be less controlling and more relaxed. They want to be able to just ‘go with the flow,’ rather than have a schedule for everything. Because of competing demands and limited resources of time and energy, they feel as though life is passing them by and they are stuck on a conveyor belt that seems to be speeding-up. Time seems to fly by and they feel as though life has lost its meaning.
A typical pattern
So in order to avoid or at least minimize overwhelm, many people create structure and order. They control their environment and break it down into digestible pieces. Unfortunately, that often includes controlling others and needing others to be a certain way to fit into their structure.
The problem is that when we create boxes for things, we often make the boxes too rigid or tight and this becomes suffocating so that those around us, start to feel strangled and like they can’t just relax and be themselves.
We create this structure like a scaffolding to keep us from seeing what’s really going on underneath. Often we have unmet needs or residual feelings, fears or grief that we are desperately trying to avoid. Controlling everything keeps us busy, distracted from our pain and our real selves. Controlling our loved ones also keeps us separate, we fail to see them for who they are, instead staying lost in who we need them to be.
How to make it work for you
Structure, routine and order provide an anchor, a place that we can rely on when everything around us is changing. Interestingly, feeling out of control is something most of us fear and the more chaotic and hectic life becomes, the more we try to rein it in and create control. Of course this is impossible, life is a great unknown and there are many things outside of our control; just knowing this can make some of us twitch.
So the key to making it work for you is to take charge of what you can, create a structure, a schedule that supports you in your daily life and that enables you to meet your demands. But within that structure acknowledge life; that it is uncertain and that it unravels spontaneously. Most importantly you need to acknowledge the individuals around you and their needs.
Ways to encourage the ‘control freak’ to serve you best
My top tips to encourage you to find a healthy balance are…
- Create a structure that includes time for you, that supports you and feels clear. Creating a structure can feel empowering; it can help you to assess where you are at and to get clear on what you want to fit into your day, your month, your life.
- Allow more time than you think you need – your structure should feel spacious. Always allow for spontaneity.
- Really assess how you utilise your time and check-out if it is serving you well.
- Create a structure that has plenty of time for connection and relationship.
- Let go and delegate things that others are able to do.
- Be curious about what’s happening for you when you find yourself controlling others, what are your needs?
- Perhaps experiment with days without structure now and again – notice if the sky falls in, what is revealed to you on those days?
It is really important to find the middle ground between being so structured you can’t breathe and disorganised chaos. Remember you may need to play with finding this balance and also allow it to evolve and change, just as life does. Most of us thrive with structure and order, as long as there is a balance of time to just be.
Jane Faulkner started her career as a Registered Nurse and has worked in hospitals in Australia and overseas. During her career as a nurse, she supported people through the difficult transitions of illness, grief, death, trauma, mental health issues and childbirth.
Jane has a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy, a Bachelor of Nursing, a Certificate in Initiatic Art Therapy and is certified in Equine Assisted Psychotherapist. Yoga is an integral part of her life, she is a Certified Iyengar Teacher and continues to study and teach in the Iyengar yoga tradition. She is an accomplished teacher, therapist, and facilitator and has led many women’s groups and Day Retreats, presented seminars and workshops, and worked with many different community groups and individuals.
Jane is the founder of Equine Assisted Therapy Australia, an organisation that provides training, retreats, programs and individual sessions that aim to provide individuals with a new and authentic ways to grow and learn more about themselves. Connect with Jane HERE.