You can't Control Everything..Learn to Live with it!

Working during peak times is akin to driving during rush hour. You try to speed up your pace by jumping lanes but most of the time you face a lock jam. What are your options?

Either you can keep trying your hand at your agile yet risky maneuvers which increases your chances of getting into an accident or you can accept the reality and go with the flow. As a risk taker, I have always opted for the former option but through experience I have reached a simple conclusion: the amount of stress is not worth the gains as you realize that you can’t control the actions of the drivers around you. However, the only semblance of control that you have during rush hour are over the decisions that YOU make.

Control is often equated with two things i.e. Certainty and Security.

By default, human brain longs for certainty. As David Rock writes in his article “A Hunger for Certainty”:

A sense of uncertainty about the future generates a strong in your limbic system. Your brain detects something is wrong, and your ability to focus on other issues diminishes. Your brain doesn’t like uncertainty — it’s like a type of pain, something to be avoided. Certainty on the other hand feels rewarding, and we tend to steer toward it, even when it might be better for us to remain uncertain

Certainty is the feeling of confidence that we have when we have figured out things or at least think that we have them all figured out. The realm of unknown is not the place where our brain feels at ease. The feeling of being certain and hence in control dominates our thinking process and may often result in wrong decisions. Ted Cadsby has rightly said in his Harvard Business Review (HBR) article “Why Being Certain Means Being Wrong”:

Only certainty, in the form of calm feeling of knowing, can replace the tension of not knowing. Settling on an explanation triggers a “lockdown” of our minds, in the same way that a fertilized egg locks out competing sperm.

Control also brings with it a sense of security. However, it is the exact opposite. The more you try to control things, the less secure you will feel and soon realize your limitation as a person. Trust me there is nothing wrong with you. It’s just that simple maths come into play. There are multitudes of variables at play in simple decisions or problems that we face on a daily basis. However, as per research published in American Psychological Society, a human brain at maximum can handle four individual variables while trying to solve a problem. Problems with more than four variables are beyond the computing power of human brain. Recognizing these human mental limitations can really make a difference in our day to day life.

We need to understand that the mirage of control is complete nonsense. However, what we can do is to learn to live with this feeling of not being in control. Grasping this simple fact will reduce our stress levels exponentially and life will become much easier. We will enjoy the change of rhythms. Each and every new experience will be an opportunity to experience new and unique things instead of adding to our insecurities resulting from the false sense of losing control.