The Illusion Of Control

Have you ever seen a drowning man (or someone who can’t swim) flailing his arms trying to stay above water, totally out of control doing anything to survive? This is what it is like for someone who loses control when they are used to feeling like they are in control of their life.


Control is an illusion and never truly exists. The only thing we have control over is ourselves and everything in our external worlds is always just outside of our reach. We may feel like we have control when things seem to be going our way but the reality of it is, we don’t really have any significant level of control.

Our lives become unmanageable when things are not acceptable to us and feel out of control. When things are going smoothly and nothing is upsetting us, this is when we have the illusion that we are in control of things. When people around us are doing as we need them to do and outside circumstances are smooth, we have this illusion that we have complete control, however even at these times there is no control. There just isn’t anything that is seemingly going against us at that particular time.

Mark was a successful businessman that had a very successful life. He liked everything done a certain way and needed everything in his surroundings to be perfect. His wife had to be perfect as that reflected on him and his children had to be on their best behavior to give Mark a sense of control.

At work, he had several people working under him and they knew they had to stay in line. They were his little minions and they were the type of people that did what they were told as not to upset their boss. If any of them would start to speak up, Mark would put some fear in them and they would back right down. Mark had a way of knowing how to seemingly keep control and he knew how to keep them all in line.

Ironically, Mark surrounded himself with friends that were the same way, weak personalities that did not have a voice of their own. If no one ever challenged Mark, everyone would get along just fine. Mark did what he wanted when he wanted and as long as things went his way, life was perfect.

Unfortunately, life itself does not conform so outside circumstances would always throw Mark into a tailspin. When finances would get tight, when unexpected expenses would pop up or a business deal would fall through, Mark’s world would start to shake. He felt completely out of control and helpless and would kick into panic mode.

If you have ever seen a drowning man flailing for his life, this is what a personality like Mark’s would be like in the moments of losing control. Grasping for anything to regain a sense of control and stability. It was only when everything would settle back down again would Mark be able to breathe again and regain his illusion of control.

We need to surrender control and learn to accept things as they are. Once we can do that and understand that there is a force greater than us that is orchestrating our life, only then can we obtain true peace. Yes, we do have choices and we do have the ability to create the life we desire, however, when things actually happen out of our control, it is about acceptance of what is.

Where there is the need for control, peace will never reside. When your world spirals out of control, you have two choices:

Allow yourself to slip into the quicksand or

Breathe deeply and follow these four tips to give you some relief:

  1. Understand that every problem has a solution

It doesn’t matter what the problem is or how desperate the situation is, there is always a solution. This is the Universal Truth. In fact, chances are there is more than one solution and it is up to you to find the best one. Once you understand that there is indeed a solution and get in the mindset of accepting that, you then become empowered. You step away from being a victim and give yourself a sense of control over what will happen next.

  1. Don’t allow your thoughts to spiral out of control

We all have video reels in our minds of the past and future events that we replay over and over. When the stress kicks in, the reels go haywire and we replay moments that serve no purpose or may not have even happened. If you continue to replay the reels, it causes you to remain in a downward spiral and keeps you from pulling out of it and seeing things clearly. It is like stepping into quicksand and will only take you deeper and deeper and keep you from being able to find a solution. So, instead of stepping into the quicksand, take a moment to go back to the original facts of the situation and work towards a feasible solution.

  1. Accept things as they are

Acceptance is the key finding solutions and clearing your mind. We often spend more time trying to figure our why things are happening instead of just accepting that is how things are. When things spin out of control, this is that time to accept that in reality, you many actually have no power over what is happening. Let go of the rope and stop fighting things. When you get out of resistance, it actually gives you freedom. Stop asking yourself and others, “Why is this happening?” The best thing you can do is accepting the situation. Our lives become unmanageable when we have certain expectation about the way we think things or people should be. Accept that in that moment, there may nothing you can do except control your reaction to things and finding a solution to move forward.

  1. In Conclusion

When life spins out of our control, we get to decide how we are going to react. How we react will make a difference between staying on top or slipping into the quicksand. How we react can make the difference between losing it and making it through.

It’s your choice.

Tracy is a published author, Co-Founder of Invigorated Solutions (see and a certified Life Coach specializing in life transition coaching, career changes, major life changes and family matters.

Both can be reached at 

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Your Turn…

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