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Gaining Control of Your Life

It’s important that you feel in control of your life. People who do go through life with a better sense of well-being and security, as well as have a greater hope for their future.

Feeling that you have some say in your own life seems to be good for you — both emotionally and physically. People who don’t believe that they have any control over their lives develop a sense of passivity and helplessness — and this sense has been linked to poor health in the same way that feeling loved and hopeful have been linked to better health.

If you have any doubt about just where your attitude stands, see whether you have the characteristics of what some people call “the survivor personality.”

According to Bernie Siegel, M.D. survivors:

  • Find meaning in their work, daily activities, and personal relationships.
  • Express anger appropriately.
  • Ask for help. Survivors know that they can’t control everything. They can express their needs to friends, family, and health professionals — and complain when their needs aren’t met.
  • Say no to non-priorities.
  • Make time for play.
  • Learn from their pain and depression — and then get on with living.
  • Choose healthy behaviors that meet their own needs — not someone else’s ideas about what’s good for them.
  • Don’t let outside duties keep them from meeting their basic needs. Survivors remember that they are precious people first, and mothers, employees, or otherwise upstanding citizens second.

You can gain control in your life, but you have to take the next steps to do so on your own. That means adhering to the advice above, and taking things slowly, one small step at a time.

Many people find it easier to start with a single person in their life, and begin exerting a small amount of more control in that single relationship. As you gain the benefits from such control, you can move on and add more areas to your life, and more people with whom you will stand up for your own needs first.

Taking and gaining more control of your life is a process — it won’t happen all at once or through sheer willpower alone. You need to have patience with yourself and understand you may suffer the occasional step backwards as you move forwards in this area of your life. Saying “no” may be the hardest thing people have in doing, so this may be the part that takes you the longest to master.

With practice and effort, however, you’ll likely find you can eventually master gaining more control in your life. You can do it.

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Gaining Control of Your Life

Lynn Ponton, MD

APA Reference
Ponton, L. (2020). Gaining Control of Your Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 29 Jul 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 29 Jul 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.