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Loss of Control, the Illusion of Control, and What to do About All of It

We’re all subject to variables – our moods, our family’s moods, the weather, the price of oil, and natural disasters, or the way people in Iowa vote. Some we control, some we don’t, and some we just think we control. It’s important to figure out which ones are which, and treat them accordingly, or the cumulative stress and pressure of trying to bring them back under (that elusive and imaginary sense of) control is going to result in stress. And we all know, stress doesn’t help PCOS.

Let’s assume that, if you take a moment and breathe, you know which ones fall into the category of things we can’t possibly control – earthquakes, toddler’s temper tantrums, the fact that the bananas you put in the refrigerator have rotted, and so on. Since you can’t control, LET GO OF THEM. Gripe and groan if you must, but impose a time limit on it (I suggest five minutes per day of hearty whining – laugh, but try it and see how far you get with the practice).

Now for the things you are CERTAIN you can control – being on time (really? In that traffic?), your weight (and how’s that working with PCOS?), whether or not you get pregnant on schedule (assisted reproductive technology is amazing, but it’s not entirely predictable), the shade you dye your hair (ever tried doing it yourself, only to discover that whatever’s in the box doesn’t look quite the same as the picture on the box?), or how many people you have for your perfectly balanced dinner party (darn that man for getting a stomach flu at the last minute and throwing it all off). Hmmm… I’m still struggling to identify something you can absolutely control.

So is it all hopeless, and you should give up trying to have any sense of order or control in your life? No, but you’ve got be real about it, allow for the vagaries of other people’s desires and behaviors, understand that time waits for no man (or woman), and, most importantly, get that the only thing you can control is THIS MOMENT. You can choose what you put in your mouth, whether you do two more flights on the stair-stepper, kind words or nasty words, whether you act from love or something less, and whether you’ll focus your attention on yourself or trying to control others. That’s really about it. Not much, in the end. Not your spouse, your boss, your child, your mother, the environment, or anything else that is larger than this moment, or larger than you.

Somehow, the idea of that is actually really calming. It feels overwhelming to hold on to a belief that we can, if we’re just good enough, smart enough, fast enough, or coordinated enough, control everything, or almost everything. If you believe that, you’re pulling a con on yourself, and I encourage you to look at it more closely, and start releasing some of that false belief.

Gretchen Kubacky, Psy.D. is a Health Psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles, California. She has completed the inCYST training. She specializes in counseling women and couples who are coping with infertility, PCOS, and related endocrine disorders and chronic illnesses.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. HOUSE or her practice, or obtain referrals in the Los Angeles area, please visit her website at www.drhousemd.com, or e-mail her at AskDrHouseMD@gmail.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @askdrhousemd.

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