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10 Psychological Benefits of Becoming Less Controlling

Why you need to stop overthinking certain decisions in your life.

Key points

  • Many controlling person feel a sense of fear and over-responsibility.
  • Controlling uncertain outcomes may be making life harder on you than necessary.
  • Relinquishing control may make you calmer, more energetic and more likable.

You make life harder on yourself if you’re constantly playing a mental chess game by trying to predict imagined outcomes based on what you or others do, and then by trying to move the chess pieces accordingly.

A controlling person often experiences a sense of fear and over-responsibility. The combined impact means you live in fear of making a mistake and blame yourself for things that are larger than you and that you aren’t really responsible for. When you catch yourself trying to control outcomes or reduce the natural uncertainty that life inevitably delivers, take a deep breath and practice letting go. Remind yourself that it’s not your job to never make a mistake or to make the uncertain certain. Accepting this fact will bring many psychological benefits.

1. You will obsess less: Consider how much your mind is occupied by ruminating and overthinking perceived flaws, worries, or outcomes. All of that mental obsessing won’t stop difficult or upsetting events from happening and robs you of your life in the here and now.

2. You will trust your feelings more: Thinking less makes room to feel more. Sometimes we just know things in our bones and the overthinking actually makes it harder to access this extremely wise part of ourselves.

3. You will be more present: Controlling outcomes and running mental gymnastics in your brain makes it harder for you to take in the world around you, the people who love you, and the interests that make you thrive. Come back and be here now… the present is all we have.

4. You will find that your relationships become closer: As you stop trying to control every aspect of your life, you will find that your brain becomes less judgmental. This is because judging is a way for us to make quick decisions about right and wrong, but these decisions are not always accurate, and inevitably push people away.

5. You will be your real self: As you stop trying to figure out what to say or do to get a particular outcome, you become free to just be you. Instead of maneuvering for what you think you want, you just get to be.

6. You will be less afraid: The more we control, the more afraid we become. We start to think that the only reason bad outcomes haven’t occurred or haven’t been worse is because we’re constantly at the helm ready for disaster. As you let go of control and see that you can handle issues as they come, your decisions will be less fear-driven and more reflective of who you are at the core.

7. People will like you more: The truth is when we control outcomes, we aren’t that fun to be around. Sure, everyone does this here and there, but consider if your controlling self is getting in the way of people just having fun with you.

8. You will have more energy: It takes immense mental reserves to constantly play out the chess game in one’s mind. As this precious energy is freed up, you may find you feel more alive, funny, and spontaneous.

9. You will feel calmer: All the work that goes into making sure life goes a certain way keeps you on the hook. Just as you start to relax your brain reminds you of another and another thing that you need to fix, anticipate, or improve. As you control less, your body and brain relax more. For more on decreasing anxiety check out my book: Be Calm.

10. You will depend more on others: When we over-control, others perceive us as so self-sufficient that we don’t need them. The people in your life may not know that you’re lonely and wish for deeper relationships. Letting others in and asking for help makes people feel good and will make your relationships more intimate.

More from Jill P. Weber Ph.D.
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