The fear of losing control

People who are afraid of losing control are also called control freaks. The word freak applies because they can freak out emotionally when their fears are coming to the surface. They no longer have control over their emotions and can suddenly become very angry, nervous, or depressed from out of the blue for outsiders.

What causes the fear of losing control?

People who suffer from this are mostly starting entrepreneurs who do not yet have a clear picture of the future based on previously achieved results. There are no facts or experiences from the past that indicate what may happen in the future.

And a clear picture of the future is precisely what people with the fear of losing control need. They want certainties about something they cannot get certainties about. In an urge to get something of certainty anyway, they are therefore inclined to do as much as they can themselves or interfere with everything and everyone, up to the irritating bit.

By leaving their mark on everything, they have the feeling that they have done everything possible to achieve a perfect result. Usually, the opposite is true because they make minimal use of the talents and capacities of their environment.

People who are afraid of losing control live continuously in uncertainty, which gives them a feeling of powerlessness. They do not dare to surrender to what the future brings and end up in a vicious circle.

  1. They become anxious about possible negative outcomes

  2. Out of fear, they want to gain control, often at the expense of the end result. (And the working atmosphere!)

  3. Because the end result is disappointing, they get proof that they were right about their negative prediction about the outcome.

  4. If something should happen again, their feeling about a new negative outcome is reinforced by the negative outcome of the last time.

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How can you work with someone afraid of losing control?

It is essential to realize that the emotions of someone afraid of losing control play an important role. Rational dialogue is almost impossible because the person will check everything according to his or her emotions. Because these emotions are, in nearly all cases, a bad counselor, collaboration is impossible. There are only two solutions:

  • The person is made aware by his or her surroundings that he or she has a problem and starts working on it.
  • You ignore the emotions of the person and try to do your job as well as possible.

Ignoring emotions is possible, but most people will soon give up "working together". There is little honor to be gained from work, and emotional behavior almost always causes a lot of unnecessary stress.

There is no way to work with someone afraid of losing control. And because most people soon end the collaboration, the person is even more strengthened in the idea that he or she will eventually have to do it all by themselves.

Most people with a fear of losing control will not blame themselves for the dissatisfaction and departure of the people around them. They will argue that their environment does not or cannot take responsibility. Or that no one has as good a work ethic as they think they have.

What can one do about the fear of losing control?

Emotionally stable and resilient people have much less trouble losing control. A good night's sleep, healthy eating, and meditation help to become and stay emotionally stable. Coaching can also offer a solution.

A big challenge for people who are afraid of losing control is to rely on themselves. It starts with sufficient self-esteem and self-confidence so that disappointing results can be overcome.

Other aspects that often play a role are cognitive distortions such as "having to", "predicting", "worsening", and "black and white thinking". People with a fear of losing control have to learn to cope with adversity by becoming resilient. They demand of themselves and their environment that everything will succeed and be perfect. In reality, this is, of course, impossible, but they refuse to see it.

Especially the prediction of a negative outcome is what makes the emotions run high. This pessimistic approach is not good for anyone and certainly not for the environment and the actual outcome. Besides, people with a fear of losing control have to learn that a negative outcome is nothing personal. If something does not work out, it is usually a concurrence of circumstances instead of one's own failure.

How do you overcome the fear of failure?

The fear of failure rarely contributes to better results. But how do you overcome the fear of failure? It's hard to stop being afraid all of a sudden. But what you can do is accept that failure is also an option. What is the worst that can happen when everything goes wrong? Does the world end, or does life stop?

Especially for entrepreneurs, it is crucial to take a negative outcome into account. If it is not allowed, it is better not to become an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship always involves risks. If you can't deal with them, you save yourself a lot of misery by not even starting.

Failure is a form of learning. As children, we learn to walk by falling. Again and again, we try to take that first step, and only after months of practice do we know how to take our first steps. We learn from falling. We learn from feedback.

If we are not willing to fail, we will not learn.

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Curiosity as a remedy for fear of losing control

What all successful entrepreneurs have in common is the art of always remaining curious. By trying to control everything, you suppress the art of being curious. Successful entrepreneurs are curious about all possible outcomes. Even if they are negative, they want to learn from unexpected outcomes and are driven to do so.

That is why curiosity is the ideal remedy against the fear of losing control.

Ben Steenstra Ben Steenstra
6 mins read
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