If you experience a high level of anxiety in your weekly schedule, then you probably identify with the desire to control something in your life related to the anxiety. Controlling behavior usually takes place to try to prevent a bad or terrible outcome from happening. Some examples of this controlling behavior are:
Refusing to delegate work-related tasks to others.
Attempting to control how your spouse or partner spends their time away from you.
Spending excessive time cleaning or washing to prevent illness.
Frequent checking patterns, which could apply to everything from checking bank account to locks or appliances multiple times a day.
Reassurance-seeking behaviors that may include validating that spouse/partner will not leave you to frequently asking a professor what is going be on the exam.
Refusal to let children participate in routine activities with peers or frequent arguing with child’s teacher/coach about child’s outcome.
Other forms of controlling behavior are more subtle, but still used to either prevent a fear from occurring or to predict the future:
Avoidance of situations in which there is a small likelihood of the feared event occurring.
Excessive online researching about illness or finances (google is your best friend).
Speaking in overly cautious words or not sharing true opinions.
Needing to sit in places, in which there would be a quick escape from the situation.
Spending too much time thinking of the perfect topic to write or excessive re-writing rough drafts of a paper.
Maybe the control gives you a desired outcome or temporary peace of mind the feared event did not occur. But let’s be real, does the excessive time and energy spent into attempting to control the worry or fear ever take away the anxiety in the long haul? There tends to be a nasty cycle of a situation with potential of a bad outcome or fear which produces anxiety, followed by controlling or safety-seeking behavior to reduce the anxiety. The problem is there will always be another situation in which the bad outcome or fear could occur again, followed by the need to spend additional time and energy preventing this fear from occurring!
So what is the solution? Do the opposite action of what fear is telling you to do! Will there be risk of the fear occurring? Yes! But uncertainty and risk is a part of life. Leaving your home every day involves a small level of risk. Our future plans could be altered in an instant, even with all the controlling and safety seeking behavior. By getting more comfortable with uncertainty in life, you will see the anxiety and worries reduced. A majority of our worries tend not to happen, or we underestimate our ability to cope with them.
Working with a trained professional is the best way of coming up with a concrete game plan to face the fears or address the worry. A counselor can guide you in how to best approach the anxiety in your life and address any concerns specific to your situation.