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Is Your Controlling Behaviour Masking Your Fear?

Is Your Controlling Behaviour Masking Your Fear?

Would you consider yourself a controlling person? Would you say you manage your ‘fears’ or your fears manage you?  I’ve worked with tons of people who say fear doesn’t stop them and they don’t let fear influence their life, yet, they are some of the most controlling people I know.  Trying to control everything in life is actually a way people manage their fears. So those people think they are managing their fear effectively, but they are actually masking it by trying to control everything.

You can easily separate the two types; just watch when things happen that they have no control over and see how ‘fearful’ they react in that moment. You see people freaking out when they lose control over the outcome of something and you see others that just smile and remain calm; because they have another type of confidence; that whatever happens, out or in their control, it will be ok. No problem becomes bigger than them.

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When we fear something or we try to control it, this behavior can take on many forms; and we might think we are managing the situation well, when in fact it could also be detrimental to success and achieving the desired outcome. You see if you don’t realize your need to control is actually fear, you will keep attracting what you fear!

Are You Too Controlling For Your Own Good?

To see the destructive effects of controlling behavior, it’s important to understand why it arises in the first place. The root of controlling behavior is fear; whether it’s the fear of the unknown, or the fear of failure. When we try to micromanage everything in our lives it’s usually because we’re in search of security and certainty.

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The spontaneity and uncertainty of real life can be a frightening concept. Because the allure of control is actually an illusion, to strive for control is to set yourself up for endless frustration and disappointment. There is a point in life up to which we cannot control and any attempt to do so; it is not only fruitless but actually silly; because that is one of the laws of life.

Too Controlling Or Just Really Organised?

Don’t fool yourself. There’s a tendency among controlling people to explain their destructive behavior in terms of them simply being highly organized. I used to be one of them in fact, but is this really the case? There’s a fine line between being organized (and prepared for all eventualities) and trying to control every single aspect of your life. While being organized usually leads to productive, efficient and effective actions, being too controlling could have the opposite effect, so it’s important to constantly be aware of which side of things your actions are on.

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The Fear And Control Cycle

Fear results in controlling behavior, and when this behavior doesn’t give us the results we’re seeking (which is usually the case), it further intensifies our fears because the results are proof of the uncertain world that we’re so desperately trying to control. This in turn, leads us to even more controlling behavior. This cycle can result in an obsession over the tiniest details and the loss of perspective on the bigger (and more meaningful) picture of what it is that you’re actually trying to achieve, as well as what you really need to do in order to achieve it.

In other words, it leads to misdirected focus and a waste of precious (and limited) resources. Because of this, fear usually leads to a self-fulling prophecy; you end up bringing about the very things that you are so afraid of.

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What Are You Really Afraid Of?

Whenever you catch yourself trying to control the outcome of every single experience, ask yourself what it is that you’re truly afraid of. For example, are you really just trying to be a perfectionist or are you afraid of being wrong? Or perhaps you’re scared of taking on a challenge, making a change or taking a risk? Do you try to control aspects in your social life? Always deciding where to go and with you because you even want to control your experiences as much as possible.

Here’s what I would do:

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  1. Reflect on yourself and your actions and be honest, are you over controlling in an area?
  2. Ask yourself why? (don’t tell yourself you don’t know, because that’s never true)
  3. Identify your fear/s and put a plan together to overcome them. – stop masking them

Letting yourself become more open to things outside of your control will also leave you more open to exciting new possibilities, opportunities and experiences and most importantly, better results in life! In the words of Doe Zantamata, “Don’t let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen!”

 

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Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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