Reining in post-election anxieties

scan-2A few evenings ago, I was enjoying a music program by three baritones in an intimate setting, enjoying it, that is, until the singers descended upon the small audience in search of one or two women willing to join them for their next pieces. One of the performers strolled my way, pointed to me, and invited me to come up to the stage. Immediately, I blurted, “No!”

Friends who were there asked why I hadn’t been willing to play along with them.  “Control,” I said. “When I’m standing up in front of a crowd, I want to be the one in charge.”

After I said this, I started to consider my ongoing angst in response to the outcome of the presidential election and my utter lack of any sense of control. The feeling continued the next day when I attended a memorial service for a good friend.  Talk about one thing none of us can control.

Many commentators advised those of us dismayed by the results to stop worrying and to let go of negative feelings. They cited research that suggests that control is a human illusion and our spheres of influence smaller than we might think.

It turns out that feeling in control, whether it’s an illusion or not, is a very important mental condition.

From Glenn Croston, PhD., Psychology Today, “A persistent lack of control in a person’s life often leads to depression and anxiety.  Anything that makes us feel helpless, lacking fundamental control over our surroundings, can have a lasting impact…”

On another website, IQ Matrix, Adam Sicinski speaks to The Universal Law of Control “When we are physically, mentally and emotionally controlling the changes in our lives, then this naturally leads to higher levels of achievement, emotional satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment.”

And from the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “Born to Choose: The Origins and Value of the Need for Control,” three researchers conclude that, “…the perception of control is not only desirable, but it is likely a psychological and biological necessity.”

After reading these, I reminded myself that when I was working I had a great deal of control over how I did my job, and even in retirement still have influence in my local community, and with my husband and friends. My sense of personal control hasn’t changed. It’s true that I can’t control the choice of a Supreme Court Justice, changes in health care laws, or immigration regulations, but then, I never could before.





About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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3 Responses to Reining in post-election anxieties

  1. Darlene says:

    Well said as usual–I have always wanted to be in control, albeit keeping my mind in control–no drugs, little alcohol as well as staying away from situations I can’t control. I get it. Having just lost a pet, it’s interesting listening to my mind and body as I try to control them while working through the grief. You should have gone up on the stage–challenge that lack of control feeling–ha!

  2. stillalife says:

    Death and feelings after a loss never seen to be under our control. After watching the woman who did agree to go on stage I felt even better about my decision.

  3. Kathy Pendras says:

    Very nicely put.

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