Sunday, 11 October 2015

Losing control

I have a deep fear of losing control of my life, of everything unravelling and disorder and chaos taking over.

I fear that at any moment the precarious web of underpinnings that my life depends on could collapse and leave me floundering and helpless.

I never assume, as others do, that my life will just trundle on in much the same way for the next umpteen years with nothing to worry about but minor ups and downs.

Totally irrational of course, because in reality my life has been fairly uneventfully trundling on for several decades. There's been no major disaster to knock everything off track.

Yet here I am obsessing over keeping control of everything and worrying that just one bad decision or careless moment could send me over the precipice, like one of those cartoon characters who takes a step too far and ends up hovering in mid air.

But maybe my anxiety is a perfectly normal response to the fragility of modern life and our dependence on so many people and things that are beyond our personal control - economic crises, wars, natural disasters, incompetent governments.

Maybe it's the assumption of everything carrying on as before, of everything we rely on continuing ad infinitum, that is the irrational view. And then when something calamitous does occur, it comes as a much nastier shock than it should have done. It seems like the end of the world rather than a temporary setback.

Oh well, I'm not floundering and helpless just yet. It must be divine intervention.


  1. There is something to be said for "better safe than sorry" so long as it is not carried to extremes. And occasionally I guess NOT doing something is worse than taking a risk.

  2. It's important to remember that these are just thoughts.
    Your mind may come up with such ideas, but you can choose how you react to them.
    Acknowledge the thought then let it drift off rather than clinging on and obsessing over it.

    I recommend reading 'Stop Thinking, Start Living' by Richard Carlson.
    It was immense help to me when I was going through some bad shit earlier this year.

  3. Because of my husband's ill health we are very aware of the possibility of catastrophe....not just his illness or the death of one of us, but also the worry about the sort of legislation which limits access to our money and which changes the ownership of that money from ourselves to whichever bank has its mitts on it - let alone the worry about a U.K. government laying violent hands on our pensions.

  4. What is the opposite of a control freak? A doormat. I feel kind of like that these days. Dave's book sounds interesting.

  5. Jenny: I think people who are confident that life will continue to putter along quite smoothly are willing to take more risks than those who aren't. But I've taken a few big risks in my time and the world hasn't fallen in.

    Dave: Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out. But I find "letting thoughts drift off" is easier said than done....

  6. Helen: This is it, headstrong governments can make all sorts of far-reaching provisions we have little control over, even at the ballot box. Like the introduction of tuition fees by Tony Blair although nobody actually voted for it.

    Susie: I'm not sure the opposite is a doormat. More like someone who's fairly easy-going, perhaps.

  7. I only worry about health and safety, maybe because I think in some instances, they are within my control.

  8. Bijoux: Glad to know you worry about health and safety. A lot of people over here seem to think that "health and safety" is just a lot of bureaucratic nonsense that makes their lives more difficult. They soon change their tune if they succumb to a nasty industrial accident.

  9. where would divine intervention come from, then?

  10. Kylie: Ha, trust you to pick up on that one! I'm sure you know very well that it was 100% tongue in cheek.

  11. nick... you know an atheist is someone with no invisible means of support. :)

    when i was 17 and the marine was 14... our dad died suddenly of a heart attack. we lost our mother 9 years later. then our gram 5 yrs after that... then my husband 2 years after my gram.

    for awhile there i just lived 'waiting for the next shoe to fall.'
    all that heavy loss so early has had a peculiar effect on me in the way you're talking about here.

    i don't seem to live with anxiety anymore. it's like...
    ok. you've done your worst. think you got me? well BRING IT ON!

    maybe that sounds a tad antagonistic! LOLOL!

    now i find i just enjoy my little 525 square feet of happiness and try not to make any waves. i'm oddly happy. with all the bull dooky going on in the world... that i can't control.
    sometimes it makes me incredibly sad for everyone going through it.
    but then ... i think it's simply "mankind" and it's been going on this way for EONS in one way or another!
    oh dear.
    my comments are ALWAYS too long. good grief. end of chapter one here.

  12. Tammy: Wow, you've certainly seen your fair share of tragedy early on in life. I can well understand that having coped with all that you feel confident you can deal with tragedy and disaster so "bring it on".

    I try to tell myself that all the horrors of the world are simply the way people are, and there's no point in dwelling on them, but I just can't shut off my emotions so easily. I read about all the refugees and the bombings and what have you and it breaks my heart to see so much suffering I'm powerless to do anything about.

  13. nick.
    i so relate to your last paragraph.
    it's why i have to be so careful and not watch too much news.
    i can't turn off my feelings very easily.
    i think my comment didn't address that very well.
    i still have a problem with OTHER'S pain. just not my own.
    i cannot bear to think about factory farms for instance.
    i'm a vegetarian. but i can't HELP them. and it breaks my heart.
    and the refugees. people that are innocent and just wanting to LIVE and survive.
    and the whales and dolphins that are being killed painfully by STUPID sonar testing that we insist on doing. JUST... the list goes on and on.
    so ...
    knowing that part of what this post is about... i am ONE WITH YOU!

  14. Tammy: I so agree with you about factory farms, refugees and needlessly slaughtered animals. And they're just some of the barbarities that go on around the world.

    It's easy to forget about factory farms when they're usually hidden out in the countryside. Just think of the outcry if they were in city centres and obvious to everyone passing by.

  15. At our age Andy and I don't expect our lives to keep trundling along peacefully for even the next ten years, but no sense wasting today by worrying about tomorrow.

    On a global scale, there's going to be a lot more instability and suffering as the human population increases and the climate changes, but there's not much we can do about it.

  16. Jean: Indeed, we may not have many years left in any case. My father died when he was two years older than me. He was a worrier too - probably needlessly worrying about how his life would be going when he was 90....

  17. My father was over a year younger than I am now when he died. My mother was about three years older. My uncle was less than a year older. As Rummy has said, some of us are living on "bonus time". It does keep us from fussing and worrying about all sorts of things.

  18. Jean: We may be living on bonus time, but we still don't know how long that bonus time extends. If it's 20 years, we could be pretty decrepit and pretty poor by then!

  19. I am surprised that you wrote this. You do not give me the impression of being the type that will get panic attacks.

  20. Ramana: Oh, nothing as serious or disabling as a panic attack. Just acute anxiety about losing control. And not permanently, only from time to time - usually when I wake up.

  21. I don't worry about losing control personally, but I do worry about catastrophic events that might through my life into chaos. I worry a little, anyway - mostly I am just living my life.

  22. Agent: Indeed, there are catastrophic events we have no control over that could sabotage the best-laid plans. At least we live in fairly peaceful societies where we don't have to contend with a civil war. That must be an unimaginable nightmare.