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Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections thought this entry rawther altiloquent. The told me to expunge the similes and smarty-pants words. Nerts to them. I left’em as they are.   After all this article is about control.   – Spo

In my line of work I see a lot of stress. One of the most frequent and most upsetting emotions people have is the feeling of not being in control. “I have control issues” they tell me. They quickly go into a horrible fantod when they feel not in control. They spend a lot of time and energy etc. trying to be in control.  For folks with ‘control issues” the poor dears never seem to have any control. It’s like being a perfectionist who can never get anything right.  The gods seem to find the vow for control comical; they like to surround thems with control issues lots of thing uncontrollable.

After thirty years of encountering this issue I’ve come to these conclusions:

There isn’t much you can control.

Control is overrated.

Letting go of needing control paradoxically helps you feel more in control.

Alas, these truisms are seldom comforting to these poor unfortunate souls. Rather than feeling relief to hear their ponderous yokes can be thrown off patients with control issues double down and up the ante in their agitation to become more in control. Oh the pain.

One of the reasons they fare so badly is they continuously confuse things they can control with what they can’t control.*  In ‘The Serenity Prayer’ people ask for the knowledge to know the difference. Not so my patients.

Alas, Babylon! One can’t control Life – or most of it. In the proverbial Pandora’s box of Life’s uncontrollable elements there is hope. There are few things we can control, and happily they do a lot of good. In Life’s game you don’t have many cards but you hold a few trumps.

– Things you CAN’T control –

Other people  (what they do and what they think of you)

The weather

The past

Random bad events  – which are not due to God’s will/Fate/destiny etc.


– Things you CAN control –


The company you keep

How you treat others

Asking for help

Your choice in beliefs and attitude

Saying ‘no”

The philosophy of Stoicism rests upon the axiom Life is not a field knee-deep in buttercups and daisies but full-up with sorrow and disappointments. One can not control things yet we take comfort knowing we will be OK enough.

Spo fans are welcome to put into the comments additions (and disagreements) what you think we can/can not control.

*This in itself is a problem viz. control-types don’t want to sort out what they can’t control; they want to control everything.

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April 2019

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018