A 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.