Whether you can’t stop snapping at people, can’t stop drinking, or can’t stop your mind from spiraling into dark places, feeling out of control can be frustrating. Sometimes it’s scary, and sometimes it can be exciting… until we wake up the next day and realize what we’ve done.
It’s normal to feel out of control every once in a while. We all make mistakes and do things we regret. But if you find yourself losing control all the time, there’s probably more going on.
Understanding why we do the things we do
We have a lot of different motivations—some logical, some more emotional. Sometimes these motivations contradict each other. Maybe your emotional brain wants to smack someone, but your logical brain doesn’t want to get arrested.
Logical decisions take more brain power than emotional ones. The more distracted, tired, or stressed we are, the harder it is to think logically. Here are just a few things that can make it harder to control your behaviors:
- Intense emotions. Some of the biggest culprits are anger, fear, stress, and grief. Sometimes we’re not even aware of these emotions, but they still affect our behavior. Talking to someone about your feelings and writing in a journal are great ways to sort out what you’re feeling and why.
- Restlessness. If you’re not satisfied with your life, you might start making rash decisions—just because you feel stuck. It could be as simple as being bored. Or maybe there’s something you want out of your life that you’re just not getting. Instead of randomly acting out, try to identify what’s missing, and think about how you can change that.
- Your energy level. If you’re physically or mentally drained, you’ll have less energy left for making good decisions. Sometimes all it takes is a nap or a snack to get you into a better headspace.
- The people around you. Peer pressure might be a cliché, but it’s a real thing. If you’re hanging out with people who drink a lot, it’s going to be harder to resist that extra glass of wine. Try to surround yourself with people you look up to, who act the way you’d like to act.
- Practice. It’s hard to break a habit, but it gets easier with practice. Eventually you can replace bad habits with good ones, and better decision-making will start to come naturally.
- Drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol lower your inhibitions. They make you less aware of your surroundings and what’s socially appropriate. They also make it harder to remember your long-term goals and keep your behaviors lined up with them.
- Mental health. Certain mental health conditions have an especially strong effect on behavior. If you have ADHD, bipolar disorder, or psychosis, you might need more specialized treatment to help you get control over your behavior.