Control Yourself with Mindfulness

For some people, life is a wonderful joyous adventure while for many others it’s a life of stress, anxiety, resentment and disappointment. In many cases the only difference between these people is how they deal with their challenges, face their fears and how they cope with stress of stressful situations we all encounter from time to time. Basically the difference is just how they think and how they manage their own emotions and feelings.

Some people take adversity and problems as a chance to learn and grow while for others it can be the end of the world. Those who seem to enjoy a good quality of life regardless of whatever the world throws at them tend to be more in control of their emotions and do not let emotions and feelings control them.


It’s a common misconception that mindfulness is about letting go of control. It’s easy to see why when so many mindfulness books and guides actually say that less control is part of being mindful. Too much emphasis is often placed on this as it’s both true but more false, as many parts of mindfulness require lots of control especially in the early stages of learning. Those that are in control of their thoughts and focus are usually dwelling less in the past and fretting less about the future too, they are more in the present and mindful.

Some of us are able to think in this more positive manner usually due to our upbringings however everyone is capable of having these positive thought patterns and mindfulness is a very big step in the right direction. When you start trying to be more mindful it seems that it requires lots of control of your thoughts to start with but very quickly it becomes second nature and you don’t realise that you are doing it a lot of the time. As you start taking control of those negative thoughts you will notice the benefits to your general well-being very quickly.

The paradox missed by a lot mindfulness books is that the very act of letting go of some control itself requires control over your mind to make this happen. So if you can’t let go of your inner control freak, don’t panic, there is plenty to control when being mindful.

What is control

Control is to exercise or influence change on something to make it what you want it to be. If you want to give up control of something you need to:

  • Understand what state of mind you are in now
  • Know or recognise what the state of “no control” is
  • You must be able to change (control) your state of mind.

Without any of these elements you can’t give up control.

Mindfulness requires that we direct our attention and focus to the present moment. This requires that you control your attention. First you need to understand where your attention is currently, either in the past, present or future. Once you have recognised your attention is in the past or future you need to consciously change it (control it) to the present.

By taking control of your mind a bit more than you currently do you will start to realise that thoughts are events that only occur in your head and not in real life. We all have thoughts that conjure up emotions and feelings that are sometimes good or bad but by realising that these are feelings and emotions triggered by our own mind’s thoughts and not external events or experiences in the present you are taking control.


You can exercise control by mentally choosing whether to let these thoughts affect you emotionally too. Imagine sitting at a bus stop, as you sit there lots of “thought” buses are passing you by. When you are in control you can choose which bus to board and which buses to just let pass.

John Burley

John Burley lives in Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom and is the author of Mindfulness for the Mindless due for publication on 2nd April 2018. He is also the director of a software development company producing software solutions to mainly the gaming industry. He blogs about mindfulness at which has a growing following both on the blog itself, the accompanying Android app and on social media too.

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