policeman in controlControl and Mental Health

It’s a tricky one for me to write about, ‘control’. And I almost didn’t.

You see my experience of many involved in recovery – and perhaps especially those seeking to help people in recovery – is that they like to think in terms of control.

I get that.

Because for many, what seems to happen as they move into ‘mental illness’ is that their grip on the world seems to loosen.

By regaining control, their sense of stability and ability to deal with situations seems to increase – which promotes a feeling of mental ‘health’.

This can be invaluable in many people’s recovery.

Holding too tightly

What I do want to question is holding too tightly to this idea of control. Sure it is useful, but I know other people who see the lack of control they have over their lives.

These people experience a similar feeling of mental health by holding the exact opposite view.

By relinquishing the desire or need to fix things, and to allow things to unfold as they do – without the sense that this is somehow diminishing them in any way – they are able to move into a much more positive relationship with their lives.

The Mindful Route

The mindful route will probably lead us to see that while we do ‘seem’ to have some measure of control, much of what happens is entirely outside of our influence.

For example, if I were to meet you for a coffee later today, how could I know what mood you would be in, or what you might say to me – let alone if the waiter would slip and pour coffee over my newly bought Levi jeans!

So by all means look for control, take responsibility for actions… and so on. But hold the concept lightly. And perhaps ultimately, we can just allow as much control into our lives as we need to make us move into more happier and positive states of mind.


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