Are You Losing Control?

Have you ever said something you regretted later? Have you ever just “lost it”? When anger controls your behaviors, you may be temporarily out of control. Usually, we can easily identify the person, event or circumstance causing us to react the way we do, whether appropriate or not. What we fail to realize is we hve more control than we imagine.

There are three basic personality needs driving us every day:

1. The first need is to be LOVED or accepted as a person. Everyone has experienced this need at some point and to varying degrees. Most people would appreciate being liked by others and if we are not liked, we may get angry.

2. The second need is to be in CONTROL, not necessarily in control of anyone else, but rather in control of what is happening to us. Many people who dislike flying are uncomfortable on the plane because they sense a lack of control. They are totally dependent on the pilot, co-pilot. Mechanic, air traffic controller, people who loaded the plane, people who built the plane, etc., etc. … so, they would rather drive. In their car, in control, they have options available in the event of an impending collision. They can swerve, hope the seat belt/air bag combination will protect them; they could even choose to jump out! Try that on a plane (not even a good idea in the car!).

3. The third need is the need for SELF-ESTEEM. If you have ever been treated badly as a customer, chances are good your self-esteem has been damaged and you vow never to go back there again.

When these needs are met, the emotional response is joy, pleasure, happiness and life is good. If any one or combination of these three needs is not met, the first emotional response is fear. Someone doesn’t like me, I sense a lack of control, or they are trying to make me feel less about myself than I should. I then get to make a choice … that’s right, getting angry is a choice I make based on the fear my needs will not be met. This means I choose to be angry and I can no longer blame the customer, my spouse, friends, neighbors, the children, the dog, the car, the weather, my boss, the fence, the government or the fact the stars are not properly aligned. I choose my behavior!

I have never had anyone able to give me an example of an angry outburst where one of these three needs was not in jeopardy. I must learn to take personal responsibility for my actions and reactions which means I have to change what I am saying to myself. If I can identify which need is not being met before I respond, my choices will usually be better. None of us is in total control over what happens to us all the time … we do have a choice as to how to react to those circumstances.

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