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How to Get More Control

By Debbie Mandel

Have you been objectified in the doctor’s office, felt underappreciated at work or de-constructively criticized at home? Does that gallon of ice-cream control you? Getting more control often begins by going the opposite route: Realizing that you control very little in life – especially life itself as human beings are mortal even if many act entitled like a god.

By giving up control you release stress and inflammation which stand in the way of what you choose to do or not to do, to feel or not to feel. While you might have little control over another person who is irritating you, unless you use brute force and even then… However, you can change the angry dynamics by changing your response/ behavior and modifying your perceptions. The person pushing your buttons might be mirroring your personal flaws which if you honestly admit could use some improvement. But you must be at ease with yourself for self-improvement to happen.

The next time you feel out of control consider the breathing process. For example, if you choose to simply stop breathing and hold your breath, you will pass out and resume breathing – in short, out of your control. However, if you become aware of the breathing process, you can slow down your breathing, inhale and exhale more deeply creating a natural rhythm to help you to relax and think more clearly about your next step. Basically with awareness you can maximize the little control you have.

Similarly, you can choose to shut some people out, befriend others, and select what you absorb and mirror in your environment. That’s a lot of control!

Here are ten questions to reflect to be more engaged and present in what you are doing:
  1. Do you integrate your experiences and learn from them or do you drown in your experiences and suffer?
  2. Do you feel like you are right all the time, that you know the real truth, or do you listen without prejudice?
  3. Do you get along with the seasons or do you try to beat them, like beat the heat or flee the winter?
  4. Are you a “teacher,” playing the part of the expert or a “student,” ready to learn fresh, new things?
  5. Do you use words that shrink who you are, or expand who you are?
  6. Do you let yesterday dictate, or do you begin every day with a clean slate, and ready to find opportunities?
  7. Do you let others steal your precious time, or do you create time for yourself?
  8. Are you distracted, like when you drive, you don’t realize how you got there, or are you in focus?
  9. Do you gobble your food on the run, or sit down and slowly savor each bite?
  10. Do you replay negative self-talk, or forgive yourself?

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: