09 Sep Fear of Relaxing: Feel Like You’re Losing Control?
Does this scenario sound familiar to you: you’re organizing tasks, people or events and feeling a little anxious that things may not turn out as you’d like. Perceived roadblocks might mess up your master plan. A well-meaning friend tells you to “relaaax”, followed by “it will turn out alright” as an attempt at reassurance.
Do you act on their suggestion immediately, drop what you’re working on and decide to chill out? Or are you irritated at the thought that you should allow matters to unfold naturally without your intervention? How can you turn well-intentioned yet annoying advice into genuine self-care? The following three steps, crucial to just about any form of self-development, can help.
Step 1: Empathy
The reason that the suggestion to relax was so annoying was because the person who uttered the advice did not start with empathy. When you don’t receive the empathy you need from others, show empathy to yourself by acknowledging your own feelings. Empathize with “I am feeling stressed because I don’t like the feeling of losing control”. Give yourself a moment to stay with that feeling. Only after you’ve acknowledged your current feelings can you be ready to move on to feeling something different.
Step 2: Awareness
When you experience some form of the fear of losing control, observe how this is affecting your emotional health. If you find it difficult to let go, question what is motivating this. The answers may not come right away, but challenging a tendency for control is the first step to loosening its grip.
Step 3: Change
As I explained in my previous post on fearing uncertainty, the traits of humility, curiosity and trust can help you explore the idea of relinquishing control. Try asking for help or considering that a task you thought was important may not require attention after all.
While changing behaviour patterns is an ongoing journey, it starts with an intention to try something new. Letting go may feel scary at first. Repeat the empathy step to acknowledge that when you’re out of your comfort zone, it’s normal to feel uneasy.
Initially, relaxing may feel awkward. Be patient with yourself. With repeated practice, your decision to lift self-imposed burdens off of your shoulders can be incredibly liberating!
PS: For some, the awareness step may reveal a feeling of “I don’t deserve to relax”. I’ll explore this in my next post, Fear of Relaxing: Do You Deserve to Relax? Subscribe to my blog if you’d like to receive notification when the next post is published!