During his workday, he also consumes various energy drinks and 16 oz. sodas to "keep him going." From the high dosages of salt, sugar, and caffeine from these drinks, Alex's blood pressure soars, and he sometimes gets jittery and anxious. In the evening his body crashes, exhausted from work, his extreme diet, frustration, and boredom, and so he chooses his next course of action: He plays video games in which he will likely save the universe for four or more hours while he imbibes at least a few beers and possibly smokes some cannabis. Finally, he takes his nightly dose of sleep aids and climbs into his bed, bathed in the blue light of the chattering TV, and struggles to fall asleep. From childhood, Barry's big trouble has been not finishing things. "If something is boring or uninteresting, I just can't do it. If it's something I enjoy, I can really get into it, until I get it conquered, but then somebody else needs to finish it." Barry says he also has trouble staying on track. "If I'm not really zoned in on it, something will distract me, and if it doesn't, I will make up something to distract me." How Do You Try to Control Others? I know you are well meaning, like the folks in these examples, but owning up to your attempts to control others can save you from the abyss of much unnecessary stress. Think about the following questions and write down your responses in your journal. Based on what you've read in this chapter so far, make a list of the things over which you demand control. For example, do you demand control over specific aspects of the lives of family, children, or friends? Do you try to control how others view you, and how audiences respond to you when you are speaking in public, making a presentation, or giving a recital? Do you try to control virtually everything and everyone in your life, or at least those who are important to you? You will discover that you no longer have to be a hapless victim of anxiety-producing circumstances. You can be a person who intentionally finds meaningful, consistent, and effective ways to manage your life. You will learn how to keep a cool head -- even in the middle of the worst storms of life -- and become a powerful witness to the peace God can bestow in the most anxious of hearts. On the other hand, if your higher brain's coping resources are too rigid and well-developed, they may tend to imprison or squash your lower brain's emotional impulses altogether. In this case, the Top-Down disintegration you experience may drive your anxiety back down into your body causing you to experience physical signs of stress rather than emotional ones. This wasn't the first time Trish had indulged in mood adjuster, so she wasn't seriously alarmed.

"I know this is a tough time for me, with all the stress, so I'm indulging myself. It's only for a short time, until I get over the hump. This is hard, with no man in my life, and this crazy schedule...well, I just need some pleasure." Trish found herself acting in an addictive manner. She came to the realization that she couldn't get through the day without a Reese's peanut butter cup. "I think about my Reese's all the time. I wonder, should I eat one early in the day, and save the other for evening, or should I eat them both together and get it over with? Maybe I should hide both cups until evening, then have them as a reward for getting my work done." What is missing from these unexplored lifestyle choices is that as long as Alex follows this course, his life circumstance will not improve, but will only worsen over time. Alex expresses to his friends his wish for change and complains about his life on a daily basis but does nothing to change his behavior or his situation. This is because he has not even begun the journey of self-discovery. He is unaware that his life situation was created by himself and could be changed by himself. On the contrary, Alex sees his situation as unchangeable. To add more salt to the wound, Alex regularly purchases lottery tickets as his single and last hope for escaping his life of suffering for a better one, which of course he does not win, and that makes him feel even more foolish. So, Alex falls into depression and eventually goes to his doctor for his high blood pressure medication refill and to discuss "if antidepressants are right for him." Barry is obviously smart, and as a child he was always being told that he wasn't living up to his potential (i.e." You can do better."). I thought that must have been pretty demoralizing, but Barry said that it didn't bother him. He liked learning and he knew that he was learning a lot, just not the right things at the right time. He never thought he was dumb, he just thought that he was "a goof-off". But the criticism did have an effect. He decided that if he was going to be seen as a goof-off, he might as well be a really good goof-off, and so he goofed-off even more. He never liked "the rote stuff", like getting homework done or handing things in on time. What feelings do you experience when your demands for control are not satisfied?

For example, guilt when you think you haven't done enough, anxiety that a loved one will make a serious mistake unless you control their actions, or depression? Can you identify with any of the examples of control perfectionism provided in this chapter? Which ones and in what respect/s? For instance, the smothering mother described earlier tells herself she must prevent any harm whatsoever to her adult children. She thinks that if she doesn't control their decisions, they will be harmed; therefore, she must control their decisions, and it would be awful if she doesn't. Imagine your brain as a skyscraper. Now, imagine that there is no efficient way for the people on the lower floors to communicate with the people on the upper floors except by setting off explosions in the basement that shake the entire building. Likewise, the people on the upper floors have no way of getting the attention of the people on the lower floors except by plugging up all the sinks and toilets in an attempt to flood the basement. This would not be a very healthy building to work in! One day, the building manager decides to build a bank of five elevators and hire a staff of messengers to carry information up and down throughout the building in an orderly fashion. This way, people in the upper floors can stop jamming up all the pipes, and people in the lower floors can stop blowing things up. She saw herself sneaking around so that no one would see her gobbling down her Reese's. She couldn't eat them openly, since everyone knew she had declared that she didn't eat sugar, and she definitely didn't want to share her treat. She got so much pleasure out of those two little round cups that it reminded her of all those moments in childhood when she had been naughty. The adrenaline rush was the physical thrill of naughtiness. The child within was getting a kick out of being bad, but at the same time the adult who knows better was getting kicked for going against her belief system. She couldn't win for losing. She could control her craving to one Reese's per day, but after three weeks she started getting concerned. What is Alex feeling? He feels frustrated and confined by a life that by his own standards has no meaning.

He knows he is capable of much more but does not know what to do. He feels anger about his circumstances and is privately ashamed of his helplessness. But because he feels hopeless, believing he can do nothing to change his circumstances, he makes multiple choices to suppress his negative feelings. For example, when he feels shame, rather than make a plan to change his circumstances, he eats or drinks, or he smokes something that gives him a wonderful feeling, covering over his feeling of shame. And he learns to do this each time he feels a negative emotion (symptom) rather than taking time each evening to understand what he needs to change in himself in order to change his experience of life. In college, Barry did very well in the courses he was interested in, mainly accounting. He liked accounting because it was logical and it involved math, which he was good at, and because he had set a goal to become an accountant. In the other courses he just scraped by, without doing much work. He particularly did not do well with languages. But he went to graduation and received his diploma and got a job. For a few years no one found out that he hadn't actually graduated; he had `incomplete' in three courses. He had just skipped one final and hadn't turned in a paper in another course, and something else about the third. The problem was that he needed that degree to get his CPA, which his firm expected of him. They kept asking him when he was going to get it and he kept telling them "soon" until he ran out of "soons". He went back to the college and talked to his professors. With hardly any effort on his part they all gave him a passing grade and he finally actually graduated. And he got his CPA right away. Which of course would have been easy enough to do from the beginning. Barry has trouble finishing things. See how this reasoning can create looming anxiety, with the possibility of not meeting your demand for control continuously hanging over your head?

Worse, if you actually fall short of your demand for control, and the harm does happen, you may blame yourself, feel guilty about it, and even fall into a deep depression. This reasoning can really be a downer if you don't identify and kill it before it multiplies! It's essential that you identify the premises of your own self-destructive thinking, refute them, and change your thinking to something much more constructive. Complete the following, recording the results in your journal. Now look carefully at your premises, with an eye to debunking them. The Emotional Elevator exercise you'll learn in this chapter will help decrease your anxiety by preventing your higher brain from stuffing up all your tension and driving it back down into your body. Similarly, it will prevent your lower brain from setting off emotional explosions every time it's concerned about something. This exercise can help you safely experience your feelings and, simultaneously, find productive responses to the situations that trigger them. The purpose of this exercise is not to decrease your immediate experience of anxiety (we'll look at that in the next exercise), but to help you find healthier ways to express your anxiety and respond to anxiety-producing events. In time, you can feel less threatened by the stressful events in your life. "I can't stop the craving for Reese's. But then why should I? I mean it's not cocaine or heroin, it's just one Reese's a day. That's not so bad, is it? A little naughtiness is rather healthy, after all. So much of my life is responsible, adult, and uptight. The Reese's rounds me out, it gives me depth," she said, justifying herself. The fact that she had lost control and was acting out of an irrational craving indicated an imbalance. Inside her there was something missing that she was trying to fill with Reese's. She was feeling a sensation and wasn't coming to terms with her feelings.