Feeling out of control is a nasty feeling. When we are out of control, we are often reacting to what’s going on:
- The tears are ready to come, and it is NOT the time to cry.
- A sarcastic comment slips out, and we didn’t mean it to.
- We bite someone’s head off…and then regret it.
- Our voice quivers, telling the world how nervous we are.
- That cuss word just tumbled out, when it shouldn’t have!
All of these are examples of losing control. We feel powerless to hold onto our feelings and behaviours.
We simply react.
The Blame Game
When we lose control, we tend to blame others for how we feel and what we do.
- If she hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t feel this.
- If we weren’t so stretched, I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed.
- If it weren’t for the economy, the weather, the crappy office space, the…I wouldn’t be…
Giving Our Power Away
When we hand over our thoughts and feelings to other people or the bigger “world,” we give our power away. You are saying, I am not in control of my emotions, or I am not in control of the way I act. That belief that makes you feel powerless. When you feel powerless, you certainly don’t feel confident!
Regain Your Sense of Control
When you gain access to what is going on inside of you, you regain your sense of control and your power. We can choose to see rain as a pain in the butt or a blessing. We can enjoy the sprinkles as we take out our umbrella or grumble and groan at how it’s wrecking our plans. It’s up to us how we see it. In the same way, when we do some work, we can begin to feel grateful for the disgruntled staff member. They are growing our conflict resolution.
Take back your Power with the Inner Guidance Cycle
Here is the tool to gain back that control and increase your confidence. Using the Inner Guidance Cycle, taught in my book Mastering Confidence, you can learn to shift from giving your control away, to taking your power back.
The 4 steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle:
- Pause – Stop what you are doing
- Ponder – Tune into what’s going on inside of you and reflect on why it’s happening
- Pivot – Shift how you see things and how you are experiencing the situation, thus taking back control
- Proceed – Move back into action.
The Inner Guidance Cycle in Action
1) PAUSE: Stop and take a deep breath.
When your boss hands you another task, and you begin to feel overwhelmed PAUSE. Our first reaction is often to direct frustration and anger AT our boss. That gives power to them. They are in control of how you feel if you let them be.
Instead, take a deep breath and begin to tune into yourself.
2) PONDER: Reflect on what is going on inside of you.
First, check in with your thoughts, your feelings, and your body sensations. These are the parts of your Inner Guidance System. Just like a compass, they gain guide you.
Do you think your boss is a jerk? Perhaps you are wondering how you will ever be able to handle the workload. You might be thinking that you have to do it immediately.
Are you experiencing a sense of overwhelm? Anger? Frustration? Despair? Incompetence?
These are often the clues that tell you what you are feeling. They help you to become smarter about emotions and better able to name them and tame them in the future. Is your stomach in knots? Did your body just heat up? Are you feeling that tension headache coming on? What feeling is that connected to?
Next start to look at what caused you to feel this way
What was the trigger?
Was it that the boss gave you this project or the way they gave it to you? Was it the timing? Did it bother you because it’s really someone else’s responsibility? Are you feeling anxious because you don’t actually know how to do it? Has that triggered a feeling of incompetence?
What mistaken beliefs do you have?
- “I have to do this now.”
- Do you really? Do you have to do it all? Do you have to do it in the way it was asked? Can you ask for help? Can you do a portion now and some later? Is there an easier way to get the result that you could suggest back?
- “I have to do it perfectly.”
- What does good enough look like? What is the real expectation versus my own “perfectionist” expectations?
- “I can’t say no.”
- What would really happen if you said no? What is the worst-case scenario? What parts could you say no to?
What values are not being honoured here?
Perhaps your value of family time is being squashed because you will now have to work late. Maybe you are feeling that you are going to have to rush this project or another one now and that impedes your value of doing good work. Maybe you are not feeling respected, or appreciated.
As you sift through all of the stuff going on inside of you, you’ll see the mess of thoughts, feelings and body sensations begin to settle and you’ll often be left with a clearer picture. It is that clarity that can make you do a bit of a shift in your thoughts and feelings. That is the PIVOT stage.
3) PIVOT: Shifting how you see things
When you see things in a new light, you shift your perspective. PIVOTING allows you to head in a different direction. Perhaps instead of feeling out of control and angry with your boss, you take a deep breath and ask if you can have a moment of their time.
4) PROCEED: Moving back into action
It’s time to taking your finger off the pause button and PROCEED back into motion.
- You might ask if you can renegotiate the deadline.
- You might suggest splitting the task between you and another person.
- You might say no.
Any of these actions put you back in control and feeling an increase of confidence.
By moving through the steps of the Inner Guidance Cycle, Pause, Ponder, Pivot and Proceed, you begin to take back your inner power. Instead of feeling out of control you begin to regain a sense of power. This time, it is internal power. It isn’t your power over the situation or power over another person. You found the power from within. That’s the true meaning of being in control. This inner power is your inner confidence.
To be in control of yourself, do the inner work. Connect to your Inner Guidance System. You’ll be glad you did!
Leadership Development Coach, Kathy Archer, grows courage and confidence in others so they can live full lives. She is deeply passionate about seeing everyone reach their full potential. In Kathy’s book, Mastering Confidence: Discover Your Leadership Potential by Awakening Your Inner Guidance System, she shows you how to develop your inner confidence so you can have the impact you desire in work and life. Kathy’s online Training Library offers affordable, relevant, and practical new content every month to keep leaders engaged, excited and expanding their leadership capacity and deepening their personal growth.