When we’re doing NLP training, there’s a process that comes into quite a few different NLP interventions we teach called ‘anchoring.’ This is where you get yourself into a positive emotional state and later can activate that state by using an external trigger. Normally, what happens is we have our client remember a time when they felt a good feeling and at the time of feeling it they might press their middle knuckle so the brain starts to create a connection between that feeling of touching your knuckle and the feeling of feeling that good emotional state. The two things become wired together. It means that later you can press your knuckle it will take you back into the same positive emotion. Very often when I’m doing this with people either on training or in a therapeutic setting, I ask “What positive emotions would you like to be able to access quickly and easily at the touch of the button?”

Control comes up quite a lot.

I’ve got a couple of issues with the fact that people want to feel in control. Have you noticed that if you feel happy, you might acknowledge that happiness. If you feel in love, you might acknowledge the feeling of being in love but has anyone ever felt the feeling of being in control and thought “I feel so in control right now”? 

I think control is something you only notice when you haven’t got it. People notice the feeling of being out of control more than they notice the feeling of being in control. Surely the feeling of being in control is you don’t feel anything in particular. You just feel okay. I’m not entirely sure that there’s an emotional state that goes with control. Maybe there’s a state of mind such as calm but then the emotion that goes with that would be a sense of peace and calm. For me, it’s more about what you do rather than a particular feeling that you have in that moment.

I’m sure a lot of people in particular, the hypochondriacs felt out of control when we got hit by a virus last year (C19). The good news is that for most healthy people the virus did come and go and did not leave any lasting effects. The bad news is that for those who are more vulnerable from a health perspective or because they were elderly there was a number of fatalities associated with them. The media are good at putting the frighteners on people. I don’t read the newspapers for that very reason. I find them depressing so I only know it kind of the more factual side of the news. I don’t indulge in the other side of it, some people do and if what you want is a little bit more in control, then one of the best things that I can recommend that you do is to cut the level of media that you are exposing yourself to and that might even include something on the more social side like Facebook, for example.

To help yourself start to feel more in control, make some contingency plans. By contingency plans, I’m not necessarily saying to you let’s just put a positive layer of fluff over the top of all of this. Having contingency plans in place can help stop us from feeling like we do not have a grip on the situations that might be coming in our direction and it helps us to remember that we are resourceful human beings. You must remember that you’ve been through challenging times before if you are feeling out of control because of something that’s going on in your life or the world right now, then remember that there have been times in the past when human beings overall have proven to be resourceful, robust, strong creatures who problem solve and figure things out and you are amongst that race of beings. Everything is going to be alright. 

If you’re in a particularly deep and dark place then find comfort! You can snuggle up on the sofa in front of Netflix if it makes you feel good but don’t stay there too long. Do allow yourself some time to have that connection with yourself, to have that comfort when you need it but set a limit on it because you have to get back into the swing of facing up to reality as well.

Don’t forbid yourself from having that or feel guilty about maybe even feeling a little self-pity from time to time but don’t let yourself stay there permanently. 

Do think about the future! 

Set some positive goals and outcomes things that you would like to be able to do – things that you can achieve. These are great ways for us to feel more in control of our destiny and what our future is going to look like but best of all we’re setting ourselves good things to look forward to which put us into a more positive headspace.

Overall, if you want to feel more in control think about the things that you want to do with your life and start taking steps towards doing them. 

Whether that’s booking a holiday or just achieving a certain thing and setting time aside for you to do that, all of those things will help move you in a more positive direction.

Finally, believe that there is a positive future waiting for you. Belief is one of the most important things to not just help you succeed but to help you feel hope in the moment. As a result, of feeling out of control very often we lose hope. We don’t see the future as something to look forward to and instead, we see it as a big bag of worries. When you acknowledge that right now things might be really hitting the fan but ultimately everything is going to be okay, then it reminds you that you just need to ride the wave because that’s life. Unfortunately, waves do come and you cannot stop them no matter how in control of your life you usually are! 

Life shows up sometimes and lets you know who’s boss. It puts you back in your place and when that happens you want to know that you can get through those moments. There will be good things that happen even for those of us who have lost loved ones recently. When facing tough circumstances, always remember that you will be happy again.

It’s really important that you keep that in mind even if you don’t know what it’s going to look like yet. 

Always expect good things to happen once this out of control stage has got out of the way.

Can I help you to feel more in control? No probably not. 

But can you become more comfortable with the fact that you do not have control? 

Yes, you can because ultimately the idea of control is just a story that we tell ourselves and isn’t necessary factually correct. It’s something that we like to believe to give us a sense of certainty and we’re usually a lot more comfortable with certainty than we are with the uncertain. But sometimes we need both the light and the shade in life to be able to appreciate the good times and eventually, the good times will come back.

By Gemma Bailey