We all have this desire to be in control. Some have it worse than others, but it is an innate need for us all. This is why we fear the unknown. This is why we get afraid at all. When we don’t know the outcome of something, we’re not in control, and that’s terrifying.
But how does the need to control and predict affect us and why do we do it so obsessively? Here are my thoughts…
Avoid pain and struggle
I think the biggest reason for wanting to be in control is because we want to avoid pain and struggle. This is why we seek loads of money; money grants us freedom from financial struggles, which is a common struggle that we are all vulnerable to.
Ever thought about how often we all Google advice to help fix our lives and control it to make it perfect and never painful? That’s what we’re doing; we want answers to all of life’s many questions so that we can control and predict and fix and prod until it’s perfect and painless.
Then, inevitably, we become disappointed because things don’t turn out as we wanted or expected or were promised.
One person says to do this thing, then you do it and it doesn’t work out and you’re angry. Then another says that’s stupid, do this! and then it doesn’t work and you’re angry. Over and over again, following advice or “sure deal” practices and mindsets and they just don’t pan out for you.
And it’s overwhelming, isn’t it? The advice on what’s wrong and what’s right and most importantly, what will fix your life or yourself and make things as perfect and painless as possible.
False standards. False expectations. Lies (though well-meaning lies).
If we can only get the information that will help us to control everything neatly and perfectly; if only we can predict when this will happen and what it’ll mean, then everything will be fine. No unexpected events. No painful losses. No uncertainty and fear. No wounds. No grief.
Life perfectly mapped out and safe.
Not good enough, never enough, always striving and yearning to a toxic level, this is scarcity. Brene Brown says we live in a Scarcity Culture and I didn’t understand what she meant until recently. But now I see that she is right…
These things that we seek perfectly portray this idea. The books, blog posts, podcasts, videos, practices that will “change your life“ are so popular now because influencers know that’s what we’re all seeking. To change our lives. Little do we know that we’re giving into the culture of scarcity, where we are constantly told that we lack something and so we constantly go searching for it.
Buying and consuming on repeat to fill a hole inside of us that either doesn’t exist at all, or is the product of something much deeper that no blog post or YouTuber can give you the answers to. Only you can find the answers you need because it’s a very personal venture.
And it’s funny that we seek these things to change our lives but how many of us have actually taken the time to step back and take inventory and actually consciously know what needs “changing” or improving in the first place? Probably not most of us.
I think that the scarcity culture is growing and thriving because we have a need to control and predict and perfect perhaps more than ever now. Why? Because our whole lives are on display. Turn back 20-30 years ago, and you only heard about other people’s lives if they told you or you heard gossip from your neighbours…
Back then, you never cared about Steve the Millionaire Teen in America unless it made the news. And so, you went about your life, loving, living, working, playing as best you could. Did you sometimes feel like something was missing? Yeah. What did you use to do about it? You spoke to loved ones, you tried new things, you read a book, you took care of your health, you wrote about it and so on.
What you definitely didn’t do, was go searching in a bottomless pit of information about what your life should be.
This pit is the internet and social media.
These are both wonderful things. Life-changing things! They’ve given so many people a voice and a platform to find meaningful work, share themselves, make dreams come true and connect with people all over the world. All so amazing.
But the dark side of it all is the big fearmonger: Comparison.
The only reason that social media is bad, really, is because it breeds comparison. She has this and he looks like that. It makes you question yourself and your life. Why don’t I have that? How do I get it? Why do I suck compared? What am I missing?
And then there’s also fake news and the opinions that people think are fact and criticism from trolls and all the rest. It seems that people bring two things to the internet: their ugly side or their filtered lives.
People become mean on the internet due to anonymity and this is worrying. Then the other people share their lives but only the great stuff. The beautiful pictures and the successes. The highlight reel, as some call it.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some great people on social media and the internet in general. I hope that I’m one of those people who shows my imperfections and doesn’t filter too much and never spreads hate.
But like with most things, the bad shouts louder than the good. We as a people have a negativity bias, so our brains are wired to see and obsess over the bad more than the good. Thus sending us into control and predict and fix mode…
I’m trying not to go on forever, but I wanted to share my thoughts on this because I’ve found myself comparing, being overwhelmed by information and advice, and struggling with control. I struggle with what and who is right. What life is “really about.”
This scarcity culture is dangerous when you’re not self-aware or living with conscious intention, that I know for sure.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting your best life (I encourage this), or aiming to fix what’s not working, or looking for advice. I just want you to bear these things in mind:
- Not everything you read is right, true, important, healthy, or for you.
- Practice acceptance and self-love before you go about trying to fix and prod at your life.
- Be grateful for what you already have.
- Take inventory of your life and your health and your wants and needs before going out and thinking you need XYZ just because someone else does.
- If you seek to never be in pain or struggle or fear ever again, you’re wasting your time. Life is unpredictable and sometimes cruel, that’s not to be avoided. Instead, seek to give yourself self-worth and strength to handle what comes your way.
- Be careful where you get your advice or information. Be mindful of your intentions. Are your actions coming from a meaningful, authentic place? Or a place of comparison, scarcity, needing to control, or fear?
I get why we feel the need to control and predict: it’s comforting. But seeking this just brings about anxiety and disappointment and frustration and resentment. You can’t control every aspect of your life, so don’t seek to.
Control what you can and make peace with what you can’t.
Hold onto the wheel enough so that you can steer the car, but let go enough so that the car can take you down unexpected routes that are filled with things beyond your wildest dreams.
Good luck, guys ❤
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