The Paradox of Overcontrol

I often have a desire for control of things: me, others, outcomes.

This need for control sometimes causes damage and ironically results in having less control than if I just chilled out

So I want to understand

1) when this happens

2) why it happens

3) how to learn better behaviours in response

1. When does this happen?

fight response: if someone swings fists at me i swing back even if there's a chance to de-escalate. fight vs flight i guess. ends up in fights i could have easily avoided

endless arguments: even when the outcome doesn't matter

rambo-coding: fear of missing a deadline causes me to pull multiple all-nighters/overconsume supplements & then crash for days or weeks. Would have been better to just rest or push the deadline back a bit.

dating: Had a constant fear of being cheated on. Couldn't sleep if i didn't know where my partner was and when they'd be back. Ironically this tore some relationships apart. If you trust people they tend to be more trustworthy. If you hyper-control people they tend to do the opposite to retaliate and gain a sense of agency

exhausting self-dicipline: used to schedule my day into 5-15 minute blocks, if i didn't adhere to my schedule i'd skip meals, ended up burning out so hard couldn't do shit for weeks

hyper-rationalization: spending hours across many months hyper-reflecting on something when it was just probability/randomness & i didn't have control over the outcome in the first place

overplanning for future: would spend 15 hours/week planning the next 50 years of my life. still struggle here. i know the amount of time spent planning is just to feel control over future, but in realty it's been consistently better to just act and see what happens, spend 1% of time planning

panic over uncertainty: yet nothing has gone wrong yet. still actively struggle with this

2. Why does this happen?

i think tl;dr is

grew up often feeling under attack

learned to think weakness = danger & control = safety

learned to fight for control

so now a loss of control makes my brain go "omg danger! fight!”

when in reality life is great these days. rarely in danger

3. things that seem to help change this behaviour

writing down when it happens (like here).

  • its like bug-tracking software. track when the bug happens so you can find why it happens and reprogram yourself

positive-association: if feeling out of control ask "am i actually in danger?"

  • spoiler: 99% chance you aren't in danger

exposure-therapy: put yourself in more situations where you don't have as much perceived control and note that nothing bad is happening to you

  • working on startups. every day is a day where you lack control over so many things
  • explore open relationships in dating where freedom comes from trust & communication
  • limit planning to 1hr/week. do it faster.
  • give yourself slack in your schedule. trust you'll do stuff even if its not all rigid in a calender