By Dr. Russ
A basic human, psychological drive is to be or at least perceive that we are in control of our lives and our future. But, without realizing it, many of us relinquish that control and then find our lives and future without direction. We lose our optimism and become overwhelmed with pessimism as we feel we are at the mercy of the ebb and flow of the daily positive and negative events and circumstances that we experience daily.
Here are ten common ways we relinquish that sense of control.
1. Making excuses: Making an excuse only diminishes self-worth. We make the excuse to protect the ego. But only a weak ego needs protection. A strong ego admits to needing to make improvements not excuses.
2. Trying to control what we cannot control: There is much in life we do not control including the weather, our genetic endowment, what other’s think of us, whether someone will listen to us, how much time is in a day, and who gets elected to office. The more we focus on controlling the uncontrollable, the more we become frustrated, disillusioned and full of despair.
3. Leaving the outcome to chance or luck: Luck and chance are the best friends of helpless and hopeless. When we give up the option to try to control what we can control we give free reign to pessimism.
4. Avoiding risk taking in order to protect the ego: Risk is necessary for any self improvement. The Olympic skier must risk falling--even injury--by going faster and making sharper turns in order to improve in skill. Every time we push ourselves to try a harder goal there is a risk of failure and embarrassment, but without more challenging goals little or no improvement can be made.
5. Believing that abilities are static and cannot be improved: Those cultures that routinely teach their children that they can get smarter if they work harder have children who score higher on standardized tests of achievement and intelligence. Pessimism flows when efforts to make self improvements are held back by beliefs that the possible is impossible.
6. Fearing failure: Every failure is an opportunity to learn and nothing more. Avoiding effort in order to avoid failing only limits the multitude of learning opportunities in life every moment of every day.
7. Fearing success: We fear success when we are afraid that we might fail after the success. When success is perceived as a pedestal for self idolization it leads to avoidance of effort for fear that to be “king of the mountain” is temporary; better to never be on top than to be knocked off and have to try again.
8. Avoiding seeking help for fear of looking incompetent: A strong ego is externally focused on the task or goal accomplishment, and getting needed help is a strategy for accomplishment. The weak or pessimistic ego is internally focused on maintaining the self-image that the ego is strong and needs no help.
9. Allowing a state of apathy to be the norm: Apathy is the favorite junk food of the pessimistic thought. Apathy keeps us in the mind set of the couch potato, letting life go by while sitting in a recliner watching the action, never making it or participating in it while ordering up another bowl of chips or pretzels.
10. Focusing solely on the outcome: We do not control outcomes. We do not control whether or not we get a job or pass a test. We only control the effort we make to do anything. An outcome focus is the McDonald’s play land of pessimism. There are lots of colored balls labeled “Success” and “Failure” that allow us to romp at will in never-get-anywhere land. Unless we focus on progress and process, we stagnate on one outcome at a time in the constant frustration of never feeling in-control of anything in life.
If you have been feeling down and out, less happy, lonely, and less productive, perhaps it is time for you to examine how you have let what you can control slip from your former solid grip on life. Use the above ten ideas and complete a self-examination; then work to regain control over what you so easily gave up.
Make a comment and let us know what you find out and how you are working to make self-improvements.