There was a time when I felt like my life was so out of control of life. I found habits to feel like I had some control, no matter how small. They helped me to cope, initially, made me feel in control of my life again.

One of those control habits was my hair. I used to dye my hair 2-3 times a week and cut it myself. I washed my hair every day and felt better for a short time. Every time I dyed it or cut it, that good feeling never lasted.

Another control behaviour was having piles of papers or letters. I would place the papers how I wanted them, that could be in a right mess. But if someone tidied them up, I would have a ‘volcano’ moment – blowing up because it felt like they’re taking away what little control I had. I would feel relieved after blowing up for a short time and then it would slowly slip back.

I explain C.O.P.E as Chosen Outlet for Powerful Emotions. So when we become overwhelmed, we choose behaviours that are familiar to us. They become our coping mechanisms in an unhealthy and sometimes excessive way.

Germs were another example, on food, surfaces and my hands. If I saw a chef or a waiter who I thought looked unclean, or if someone sneezed within close proximity, I wouldn’t eat. The perceived threat could be metres away of my own food, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat. I used to wash my hands until they were red raw, bleeding and painful. I washed them if I touched the remote control if the dog came close to me. If I touched a handle, or if the mood took me I’d wash my hands and use hand sanitiser. In the car, cleaning the steering wheel, keys, gear stick and the door handle.

Looking from the inside out, I felt so powerless in my life. Back then, things felt like they were spiraling and I couldn’t stop them. I desperately wanted answers, strategies ways to cope but instead I found these destructive controlling behaviours. They were healthy behaviours that had become unhealthy coping mechanisms – dyeing hair, germ control and keeping papers tidy. All typical behaviours for me, but done to excess.

If you recognise these self-imposed controlling behaviour yourself, remember its a temporary coping pattern. Patterns can be broken, reset, swapped for healthier coping behaviours. You can learn better ways to offload the feeling of pressure, instead of ‘volcano’ moments that offer only a short term release.

Self Knowledge is a Superpower – the more you understand about yourself, the easier it becomes to restore balance, overcome struggles and make different choices. If you would like to know more about emotional empowerment coaching, and how it can help to make you feel more in control of your life, please get in touch.