If you’re working through The Thrive Programme you’ll know that it’s all about taking back power and control in your life. This is crucial in learning to thrive. Power, control, desire for control, secondary control – feeling confused? This should help.
In order to thrive you’ll learn to develop strong psychological foundations. An ‘internal locus of control’ is a really important foundation: this means you will feel that you can have a huge impact on the life you life, rather than ‘life happening to you’. In the Thrive Programme, we call this having ‘internal SPACE’. But it doesn’t stop there… You might be building your internal SPACE, and be told to reduce your ‘desire for control’. What? You’re being taught to build your internal sense of power and control but then you learn that too much desire for control is a bad thing? Well, this is confusing. People have a strong desire for control when they actually feel out of control; this leads to anxiety, fuels perfectionism and is really quite stressful. To understand how to reduce your desire for control and feel calm and relaxed, you will need to master one more aspect of ‘control’: primary control and secondary control.
Primary control is our ability to plan and prepare: if you have ever achieved anything, it’s down to your primary control – you will have worked hard, organised yourself, mastered new challenges and used your direct influence to get results. All this is good! You need a certain amount of primary control in your life. But you don’t need to control everything and cater for every eventuality.
Secondary control means ‘coping skills’. Even if you’re a master of organisation and prior planning, life is always going to be full of ups and downs and we need to feel confident in our coping skills, to know that we can face whatever life throws at us with flexibility, adaptability and resilience. going into a situation feeling confident that you will be able to cope does not create stress and anxiety. Strong secondary control makes it easy to think straight and to feel calm.
The good news is that by improving ‘secondary control’, one’s ‘desire for control’ simmers down a bit. There’s no need to attempt to plan and pre-empt everything when you feel confident that you can cope with all eventualities.
We often meet people who spend a lot of time and effort honing their ‘primary control’ to satisfy their ‘desire for control’ – Stressheads! Fortunately there is an easier way, which is to build your ‘secondary control’. It takes a bit of time and practice but will make all the difference to your daily life.
You don’t need to give up all primary control for it to be effective but you will feel much calmer as a result