Self-study leads to self-awareness, and self-awareness empowers us to truly transform and stop repeating the same negative choices that undermine our life. It solves apex problems, and solving apex problems creates a domino effect of positive change. Sometimes for our life to take flight it is critical to change our occupation or career, but sometimes even changing our occupation would not make any difference, because our profession is not the cause of our unhappiness, and if we chose to change our profession, our unhappiness would follow us. Our chosen profession can be empty or full regardless of its stature in society. Mahatma Gandhi was a lawyer and arose to became renowned, not for his profession but for his method of conflict resolution, inspiring worldview, and way of life. Later, Barry went to graduate school. There was one required course he couldn't fit into his schedule, so he had a friend tape the lectures for him. Then he sat down and listened to the tapes so he would be prepared for the test. Sure he did. So when he had completed all the courses except that one, he talked with the professor, who offered to just let him take the test. Then Barry would pass the course and receive his graduate degree. But Barry said "No", that he wanted to do it right, so he was going to listen to the tapes and then come back and take the test. You are telling yourself that you must protect those you care about, so you further think you must control certain actions or circumstances that could harm them. So you have two musts, one deduced from the other: I must prevent harm to this person. Therefore, I must control the person's actions or circumstances leading to any such harm. However, both musts are false, because there is simply no lawful necessity or "must" by which you can perfectly control such external events. The human capacity to control the external world is limited and imperfect. Accepting this cognitively and emotionally is the key to overcoming your control perfectionism! I must control the actions or circumstances leading to the harm in question. Therefore, if I don't control these actions or circumstances, it would be awful.

Incidentally, attempting to deal with stress by using "screens" (TV, internet, smartphones) never works. Devices like these numb us as long as we are using them. But if we were to think of our brain as the ultimate smart device, taking this approach leaves the app for the stressful event open in our brain, burning up our emotional batteries. In order for an event to stop producing anxiety, we need to find a way to force-stop the app. This doesn't necessarily mean solving the problem. Often that's not possible, at least in the short term. But we can still close the mental app on an issue by identifying a short-term action-step that we believe will enable us to make some progress. It sounds wonderful to me. The only problem (well, in fact it isn't the only problem), the only problem for the moment is that it doesn't work very well for him. Why not? Because he tends to ignore the pop-ups and the alarms. Another problem is that the program is old and will not work with Windows 07. He needs to buy a new program, and transferring everything to the new program is going to be a hassle. I think it's going to feel overwhelming and maybe he's not sure that he can do it right. So he hasn't gotten around to it yet. Maybe he's procrastinating on it. She would argue, "I deserve it. I've been really good lately, a good employee, a good friend, and responsible to a fault. Hell, cutting loose with a Reese's is not going to kill anyone. I need to live a little!" Everything her mind was telling her was accurate.

It had assembled relevant and useful data to use at moments just like these. The point wasn't whether she was a good person, or whether she needed a reward, or whether the Reese's would kill her or not. The point wasn't whether she needed to be naughty, or whether she was allowing the child within to come out and play. The point was that she was acting out of alignment with herself. She was doing something that she knew was not good for her, and she felt guilty because she needed the Reese's to cope with the stresses of her life. One bite of her Reese's and her mood was substantially altered. One of the most powerful spiritual leaders among women in the history of the United States is Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643). She was married to a farmer and was a practicing midwife. She also had thirteen children of her own. Not glamorous or wealthy, she was well known for her kindness and healing capacity, and people gathered from all around to hear her speak of life, healing, and spirituality. One of the things these people had in common was that they had ordinary professions but were not defined or confined by them; they were self-aware, rose beyond their occupations, and became beacons that helped other people to find deeper meaning in their own lives. Barry has another strategy: he uses a computer program called a PIM, a personal information manager. It has a calendar, a to-do list, a very fancy address book, and lots of bells and whistles. It will pop-up reminders onto the computer screen: reminders of things to do, appointments, people's birthdays, and anything else he wants. He can set it to ring an alarm whenever something pops up and anytime he wants to be reminded of something, like when to take his pills. the alarm can give him immediate reminders, like needing to leave for an appointment right now, or for long term things - that he has to pay his quarterly taxes; the tax pop-up will come up every three months. He also has a spread sheet that tells him when his bills are due. This inference is unsound because, again, the "must" from which it proceeds is not factual. A helicopter mom might refute this inference by telling herself, "Yes, it's unfortunate if I can't always control how others treat my child or the situations she gets into, but that doesn't make it awful." She can take reasonable precautions to protect her child. For example, she can teach her child not to trust strangers.

But she can't guarantee that things will always happen as she wishes. Now that we have a clear idea of the trigger and the unhealthy ways we tend to respond, we can begin to do some problem-solving. It's time to gather some resources. Often, when we think of resources, we imagine things outside us, like asking others for help or acquiring new skills. These can be very helpful. But what if other people aren't around? Or what if you don't have time to develop new skills? What then? Obviously, you are doomed, right? Well, fortunately, no. The best resources are internal resources -- the vast library of personal strengths, past successes, and helpful tools you have picked up along the way but may be forgetting to use in the moment. When we become anxious, the neural doors to this vast library of internal resources tend to lock down. If a library is burning down, it makes sense to seal the assets behind fireproof doors. In the same way, when our brains are stressed, our focus on immediate survival strategies causes us to ignore all the best information available to us. There is a feeling underneath each behavior that drives it. If the person is in the grip of an addiction, then the feeling he wants to avoid, bypass, or suppress is unwelcome, undesirable, or totally unacceptable. The mood enhancer is selected either to pursue or to avoid that unacceptable feeling. Since XXXXXXXXXXXs often come from a family environment in which feelings were avoided, denied, or suppressed, it is normal behavior to camouflage or distance oneself from feelings that are distracting, disorienting, or disturbing. Self-study cannot be underestimated. Knowledge is more powerful than belief.

Belief in a higher ideal alone isn't usually enough for most people to find meaning and happiness in their lives. How many people have you met who are 100 percent invested in a belief paradigm yet are emotionally hanging on by a thread, or who often behave badly? And how many people have you met who adhere fervently to a religion yet also lie in bed awake at night with insomnia or grind their teeth in their sleep or need antidepressants to cope with a life they cannot reconcile? (It isn't only atheists who are taking antianxiety or antidepressant medications.) This is where the work part of spiritually comes in. We have in our hearts what we believe to be true, and we follow our faith or the religion that our families followed, but we cannot seem to integrate what we believe with how we live and how we feel emotionally day to day. Self-awareness doesn't change your religion; it helps you to integrate it into your life. Self-awareness doesn't ask you to adopt a religion; it offers you a clearer picture of what you want and who you are. This PIM is a great program and Barry says it is helpful, just not too helpful, since he ignores the pop-ups and alarms a lot of the time (generally, when we find something that helps us, we quit doing it.) Barry was being helpful to me by giving me this interview; he wasn't asking me for any help. But here's the way it seems to me: It's time to set goals that can help you attain greater security in a world that is not always under your control. Such guiding virtues include courage, self-control in the exercise of tolerance, and prudence. For overcoming control perfectionism, exercising courage means to stand firmly against your tendency to overreact to and exaggerate how much control you have over possible harm to others or to yourself. At one extreme, some people shy away from dangers they can and probably should try to control. At the other extreme, the control perfectionist overzealously demands control over what is not in her control, and consequently generates needless stress. The courageous person avoids both extremes and therefore does not demand perfect control. Surprisingly, one of our best sets of internal resources are virtues. Most of us think of virtues as qualities -- such as peace, patience, thoughtfulness, strength, persistence, self-discipline, self-control, etc. -- that we either have or don't have. But in reality, virtues are qualities that we can build up in ourselves over time through repeated practice. A virtue is, in some ways, like a muscle that we strengthen every time we exercise it. The stronger that muscle is, the more effectively we can wield it, even in the face of difficulty or opposition.