5 reasons to stop making plans for everything
Think about how much time you spend planning. Plan your meals. Plan your day. Plan your vacation. Plan your wedding. Plan your family and plan your life. The question is how well is it working for you? How many times have you painstakingly planned something only to have the bottom crash at the last minute? It really shouldn’t be that way, but it is.
So does that mean we don’t plan anything? No, but we can learn to be more flexible. Here are some ways to start thinking a little differently about planning and ease your control freak tendencies.
1. Observe your patterns
Chances are, you haven’t become a control freak overnight. Your need to plan is directly related to your need for safety and adequacy. While planning can give you the feeling of being in control of life and the people around you, it is an illusion. Your ability to control results begins and ends with your own thoughts, attitudes, actions, and beliefs. Your beliefs become the catalyst for your behavior. The first step in learning to relax and stop controlling everything is to start practicing noticing your behavior and thought patterns. Start by paying attention to what you tell yourself about the need to plan everything. Write down your thought patterns. Look at the triggers that set off your need to plan and control.
2. Learn to think differently
Being rigorous can be good in some areas of life, but if we’re honest, we have to admit that even the best laid plans can slip away. We can easily get sucked into what therapists call cognitive distortions. These include “think all or nothing and catastrophize.” For example, we can say to ourselves “If I don’t plan my day, any it will be done. “Nothing means no one the thing will be done. Is that Really certain? No. You would have to stay in bed all day so nothing is done. Catastrophizing means exaggerating things and assuming the worst possible outcome. If nothing is done, what do you say to yourself? Things like: I am inadequate, I have to be responsible, I am a loser or I have to please others, they are all negative and self-destructive thoughts. Try to replace them with positive trade-offs. “I’ll prioritize my to-do list and if I don’t get to everything, it’s not the end of the world. I’m still fit,” is a good example. After all, tomorrow is another day!
The only thing that we all have guaranteed in life is change. Learning to adapt to the unpredictability of life will provide us with much less anxiety and mental stress. When we plan our lives so rigidly, we set ourselves up for disappointment when things don’t go our way. Sooner or later we have to accept the fact that we cannot control life and the people around us. How do we move towards accepting what we cannot plan for? Being convinced that all the stress and anxiety that accompany it are not profitable for our well-being. As long as we are convinced that we have to make perfect plans, we will continue to sink to the ground. Do your best and forget about the rest!
4. Face your fears
No matter how much we know intellectually that we can’t plan everything, we still try. Usually, we don’t give up until the usual coping strategies we’ve found to make life’s work slip away. In the long run, we would do better to face our fears and deal with them head-on. Facing our fears means unraveling the underlying beliefs that drive them. Ask yourself what you think about your performance, the performance of others, and the world around you when it comes to having to plan and control everything. How does planning protect you from feeling insecure? Does it make you feel more in control? Are you willing to give up the need to control and trust that things will work out with God’s help?
Most people see surrender as a weakness, but it is really the key to freeing yourself from the need to control. When something bothers us it is because we have a goal in mind that usually involves the behavior of another person and that goal has been blocked. We get angry because we usually demand some kind of right at the moment. For example, if my husband does not respond to what is happening and I get angry, it is because I am making his “neatness” a goal. It’s a good goal, but the problem is that I can’t control it. After years of living with a “messy,” it turns me on when she leaves things around for me to pick up. I can certainly draw limits around his carelessness, and I should, but if I renounce his right to be an orderly person and accept his shortcomings, I can walk with greater peace and rest.
And you? Do you have the need to plan everything that makes your life more stressful? Get started today by trying some of the change strategies mentioned above, have a cup of coffee and relax!