“The bird of paradise alights only on the hand that does not grasp”

John Berry

A source of frustration or worry and anxiety I often come across in my work as a coach originates when people feel they are not in control. How often do we hear (or even utter ourselves) the words: ‘I like to be in control’, or ‘I hate it when I’m not in control’, and even ‘I know I’m a control freak’?



We may often be under the impression we are in control, especially when people are doing what we want, but that’s only ever temporary. The truth is, we are never in control of events, what people think or what people do …. ever. To believe so is to live in an illusion and if we base our happiness on whether or not we are in control, we are going to have to get used to disappointment. In fact, people who like to feel in control are often frustrated and unhappy when their world does not cooperate with their demands.



  1. In desiring control we hanker after something we can never have, therefore we are wasting our mental energy chasing the impossible. This often leads to frustration and a general sense of unease and even unhappiness.
  2. The quest for control generally leads to pressurising (or even bullying in extreme cases) our partners, friends or colleagues. Their compliance should not be mistaken for control as it never endures – it’s simply negative influence, backed by force & fear, masquerading as willing compliance.
  3. We must ask ourselves whether such pressurising will be more or less productive in our relationships, social or otherwise. Such an approach will create and perpetuate stresses and is that really what we want?



The fact is that there is one thing over which we have complete control (if and when we choose to exercise it) and that is control over what we are thinking. In this our control can be complete & our responsibility is absolute. No one can tell us what to think, whatever they may believe. But it’s ironic that the one thing in our lives over which can we actually claim full control is so often neglected either in part or, in some cases, completely abdicated. What we think governs our decisions and our decisions determine our lives – so the sooner we claim back control the better.


People can break the habit of allowing the mind to function in auto-pilot. Through practice designed to develop mindful awareness people can develop greater focus, presence, and improved memory. The greater our control of our thoughts & therefore our actions – the more we exude strength and positive energy. It is this that gives us influence over events and on those around us and it is influence, emanating from within ourselves that can  contribute positively to our relationships. The positive reality of influence as opposed to the negative illusion of control can only fuel our success at work or at home and in the words of Napolean Hill:

“Self-disciplined begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do.”