• lockecurfman

To control or be controlled: That is the question

In a simple but well-written article, author Ozan Varol ( writes:

(see my brief commentary at the end):

Of all the bizarre relationships humans have with their feelings, our relationship with the feeling of control might top the list. Here’s why: We try to control things we can’t control. And we don’t try to control things we can control. Let me explain. I can’t control what you, the reader, think of this article. You can’t control what other people think of you. You can’t make your followers like your latest Instagram post, force your boss to promote you, or get people to love you. Yet we spend much of our lives trying to control these uncontrollable variables. People suppress who they are in order to belong, sports fans engage in bizarre rituals to magically influence a favorable outcome, and writers spend inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out how to get more page views and retweets. In my case, with this article you’re reading, I’ve spent more time than I care to admit moving paragraphs around, changing the title (for the tenth time), and tweaking the wording. Yes, all that effort might make this article a better read. But none of it will allow me to actually get inside your head, flip a switch, and change your opinion from negative to positive. The more we try to control what can’t be controlled, the worse things get. It’s like holding sand in your hand: The tighter you squeeze your hand, the more sand slips through your fingers. What’s more, in an effort to control other people’s opinions of us, we end up betraying who we are. That’s one side of the coin. On the other side are variables that are within our control. We can control how we respond to a negative comment. We can control what to do when we’re cut off in traffic. We can control whether simmering feelings of anger snowball into rage. In these moments, we pretend like we don’t have a choice, but we do. Although we can’t control what happens, we can control our response. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing,” Viktor Frankl writes in one of my favorite books of all time, Man’s Search for Meaning, “to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” The serenity prayer, popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous, echoes the same sentiment: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” So let go of what you can’t control. And focus on what you can. You’ll be far happier as a result.


Commentary by Locke Curfman, LPC

For some people, even being able to control our responses to situations seems impossible.

This is especially true when you have experienced some form of trauma in your life.

For example, you’ve been in a car accident and now no matter how hard you try, you just cannot make yourself get in and drive a car.

Or, you’re on your third relationship which is about to end and you’re wondering why you keep “choosing" the wrong person.

Maybe, you’ve taken assertiveness training classes, you’ve been in “anger management” courses, and you believe you understand your triggers and the steps to take when you’re triggered but without fail, when that trigger pops up, you respond like you always do: a blow up.

Is there something wrong with you? Do you not really want to change your behavior? Are you not smart enough to make this happen? The answer to all three (and more) questions is a resounding NO!

When our emotions are wounded, we very easily go to them when we are triggered because they have become a habit for us and they “protect “ us. They are more powerful than our conscious thoughts so even when we learn strategies, they often fail when the wounded emotions kick in.

This is where EMDR therapy is especially helpful. Why? Because it targets our emotions and the memories associated with them directly and starts a healing process that takes you from being controlled to actually being able to choose to control as mentioned in the above article.

I am trained in and have several years of successful implementation of EMDR therapy. Please check out my website for more information.

Here’s to taking control back and enjoying a thriving New Year!


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Locke Curfman, MA, LPC

Kranz Psychological Services

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Longview, TX 75601


Phone: 903.200.1433

Fax: 903.405.4047

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