Psychologists know that we need to make sense of the events in our lives, so when something happens that affects us, we look for reasons. If our house burns down, we search for the cause of the fire because we want to be able to prevent it from happening again.
In the same way, when events occur that are out of anyone's control--say lightning striking your home --we still look for reasons. Should we have installed lightning rods? Is God punishing us for some misdeed? Can we blame the builder?
Why is it so scary to accept that random things can happen? The knowledge that we can't control everything makes us feel vulnerable, even threatened. Healthy people understand that life has built-in risks; they take reasonable precautions to limit those risks, but they're comfortable getting into a car, for example, even though they know there is some possibility they'll be in an accident. Problems begin when we mistakenly assume we can control everything if only we're vigilant enough. Overprotective parents, control freaks and micromanagers are actually very anxious people, afraid that something will go wrong unless they oversee everything.
Because they believe themselves capable of taking care of everything, they usually see others as unreliable, and they don't trust anyone else to take responsibility. Of course, this behavior leaves others feeling powerless. Growing up with an overprotective parent or living with, or working with, a control freak or micromanager can damage your self-esteem to the point where you feel hopeless, and that can lead to depression.
On the other hand, when you are the one who feels you have to take care of everything, you can find yourself depressed., as I did. When something went wrong, I automatically saw it as my fault. I felt guilty and inadequate and my depression deepened. I had to learn to distinguish between things that were never under my control and things I actually was responsible for. The more I realized that I didn't have to control everything--that I couldn't control everything--the more comfortable I became with life. I had to learn not to expect everything to go perfectly and to deal with the outcome, whatever happened.
It tool a while, but it was worth it!
Stephanie Kay Bendel is the author of EXIT THE LABYRINTH: A Memoir of Early Childhood Depression – Its Onset and Aftermath, MAKING CRIME PAY: A Practical Guide to Mystery Writing, and A SCREAM AWAY, a romantic thriller published under the house name, Andrea Harris. She has also written numerous short stories and articles on writing.