The Connection Between Control, Happiness and Safety

What happens when our life’s challenges give us the feeling that we have lost control? We are stressed in our personal relationship, our children are struggling or we have lost a job. Our anxiety is high, our negative inner voice is heavy with chatter and cortisol is triggered in our brain.

Fortunately, control is not the only way for us to feel safe during these uncertain times.  Loretta G. Breuning, Ph.D proposes some activities for our brain that will “re-wire your brain to feel safe when you’re not in control.” She recommends that the repetition of a thought or behavior for forty-five days can have a transformative effect. 

Giving yourself the opportunity to think or behave differently during times when you feel out of control will initially generate uncomfortable feelings but ultimately over time create a feeling of safety. Thereby giving us the ability to survive uncertainty.

Growth happens in the dark times. A seed is planted in the dark soil then given water and sun to help it grow towards the light as it transforms during the process. We have the ability to tolerate discomfort when things are out of control and with support can feel safe while we navigate new feelings and behaviors.  

When we are in control it increases our happiness. We have a sense of organization, security and independence when we are in charge. Control is about perception. This perception influences how we think, feel and react to a situation. There is comfort in predictability. It decreases our anxiety and helps us feel safe.   

“Having a strong sense of controlling one’s life is a more dependable predictor of positive feelings of well-being than any of the objective conditions of life we have considered…” Angus Campbell

To feel in control is ideal but life is unpredictable. Understanding that we have the ability to re-claim our autonomy is empowering. 

Relevant Articles:

How to Make Peace with Something You Cannot Control / Psychology Today / Loretta G. Breuning Ph.D.

Innermammal Institute – Learn more about your mammal brain and building new neural pathways.

Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels / Loretta G. Breuning Ph.D.

Not Salmon – The number one contributor to happiness




Newest Blog Posts