Be A BEMER. The influences on yourself are not only part environment and part genes, but also part you.

So let your "you" play its part in deciding who you are, what you feel, what you do, and how you are with other people.

Take back your life from your biology, your environment, and anything else that stops you from being true to you and being true with others.

And be a BEMER while you're doing it, in the sense of "beaming" with joy.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Tiago needed help in deciding what to do with his life because he felt so out of control of its direction. He went from job to job and friend to friend, without finding stability. He came to my office frustrated and forlorn, and began drinking to excess.

Patti felt her life was heading where others wanted it to go - her partner, her parents, and her supervisor. She came to my office depressed and stressed, and could not sleep well.

Both these patients yearned for more control in their lives. Both did not want to continue being passive about their life direction. Both revealed difficulties in their childhood related to parents who did not support them or encourage them, and who remained distant from them. My patients understood the circumstances of their parents, but it still hurt thinking back.

I explored the past issues with the Tiago and Patti, but I wanted to build a better sense of control in their lives, too, so I made the diagram accompanying this text. The point of the diagram is that instead of remaining passive and feeling that we do not have control in our lives, we can work toward creating the missing sense of control.

Perhaps for you, a sense of control is present but hidden, and just needs some change of attitude and some techniques that could be applied to keep it at the forefront. Sometimes, by examining when a bad habit or old way governs your life, and by working toward a good habit or new way, you can change for the better quicker than you might think.

However, perhaps getting a sense of control of your life is harder than you think. You might think that it should be easy to change, but it takes longer, for example, if there are serious issues in the past or if the bad habits are deeply ingrained.

Here is an exercise for you to try. Think of a bad habit that you have and that you want to replace by a good habit. Another way of saying this is to think of an "old" way that you want to change into a "new" way.

Once you have an idea of what you want to change for the better, the change has begun. All it takes is some will power to start increasing the sense of self power.

Keeping a bad habit or old way takes a lot of energy, and working through what holds you back from changing takes a lot of energy. Also, trying to explore the past could be quite painful psychologically.

However, taking the first step in the right direction leads to other steps. Have you chosen yet? Are you ready to become a BEMER?

A genuine BEMER knows that taking control of one's life is constant work. It does not end with a decision to do it, because it is a constant lifelong journey once the path is finally taken. Let me give you a few examples.

  • Each new challenge presents obstacles. Sometimes they are so great that gaining a sense of control is impossible, especially at the beginning.
  • Moreover, sometimes, wanting the control could work against you because it could be a great learning experience to let the situation (or other person) keep the control for the moment.
  • There might be advantages for you in letting someone else have control.
  • Life is a give and take of control, and wanting to live in control all the time might lead to poor decisions about cooperation, or letting others have control when the situation demands it.
  • Having a sense of control does not mean that you should have control all the time.
  • Having a sense of control means that you know when it is best to take the control and when it is best to give it up.

BEMERS, then, are BECOMERS, because they accept that

  • life is a journey in which having a sense of control sometimes happens and sometimes cannot,
  • they can work at increasing the capacity to know when to take the control and when to give it up, and
  • they know that they are growing in other ways as that capacity develops.

However, how can you develop a greater sense of control? Once you know the plan, it is easier to put it into action. Also, in trying to change, for example, by controlling a bad habit or old way, it is always easier to add a better behavior to what you do than trying to stop the bad habit or old way that you wish to change.

By being a BEMER, you can develop better habits and ways because that allows you to see the overall YOU better and change for the better by following the right plan. So start being a BEMER, which means start understanding that you have a voice in your life direction, your behaviors, your habits, and your ways, and also the choices that you make.

Other people can help in the task of gaining a sense of control in your life, such as in getting good social support, reading self-help books, or talking it out in a professional's office. Just ask Tiago and Patti about that.

About the Author

Gerald Young, Ph.D.

Gerald Young, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at York University.

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