Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

Under Control April 18, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:30 pm

I recently read an interesting story having to do with how what you believe affects everything including anxiety, fear, control, trust, and the likes of which run similar gamuts. I can relate to all of them and I’m sure you can too.


Apparently, psychologists learned some fascinating truths about belief systems when they studied the impact of combat on soldiers in World War II. Results revealed that after 60 days of continuous combat, ground troops became “emotionally dead” and their anxiety was off the charts.


On the flip side, even though their mortality rate was among the highest in combat, fighter pilots remained comparatively calm and positive and loved their work and claimed to be happy in their assignments. This, even though 50 percent of them were killed in combat. What gives? Control.



Yep, the pilots sat in the cockpit and had their hands on the literal throttle. Those on the ground however, had little or no control of their successes or their fates and felt helpless. A pilot could be shot down and an infantryman could defeat that day’s evil, but what seemed to make the difference is that perceived control creates calm and lack of control festers as fear.


All of this comes out of a fabulous book entitled “He Gets Us” and I believe it and I get it. My name is Carla and I’m a control freak. I like things in order. Everything in its place. I like to plan. I’m a get it done girl. I’m also a great worrier. Hmmmm…lack of control festering as fear? I fear not!


But, sadly it’s more than likely the case. Maybe it’s because my mom is an even bigger worrier than me. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up with a lot of self-confidence, which often results in the desire to control. Maybe it’s because for many years my job required me to have two news stories on the air, not a second late, and twice a day every day. I lived on deadlines and I kinda still do. It was stress-filled yet success- focused.



Our world is full of stress and uncertainty so it should come as no surprise that many of us are feeling a total loss of control. Everywhere you look there’s either chaos or despair and things seem unfixable. This is when anxiety creeps in as it’s often the consequence of perceived chaos. Our youth is feeling this perhaps the most.



A new study revealed 60 percent of U.S. girls reported persistent sadness and hopelessness. This makes me so sad but think about it, they were locked down for years, no school and no social activities, then they’re put back in school with more mature bodies, socially awkward, and uncertain how to navigate friendships. Then there’s social media, which contributes to and acerbates superficial appearances, purported perfection, and wayward acceptance. And don’t even get me started about many of the schools they were thrown back into, which seem more hell-bent on teaching everything they perceive as wrong instead of all the truly “write” things. No wonder students are confused and sad! It also doesn’t help that the status of families in America continues to deteriorate as Dr. Matthew Biel, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry specialist from Georgetown University Hospital, told Journalist Derek Thompson.


“I interpret data about teens in the context of a larger state of crisis in families. Parents and families are struggling terribly and are feeling overwhelmed. Teenagers don’t exist in a vacuum. They live in families and families right now are not flourishing. Social media emphasizes anger, despair, hopelessness, and disconnection.”




This is when it’s time to go back to belief systems and what makes us good and good and strong. If your belief system is strong, you are more likely and better equipped to stand firm. Don’t wring your hands; bend your knees. Try to give up control and perfection and realize you can’t run or fix the whole world. But you can trust. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be the case by looking at this chart:



Mind blown and mind-numbingly scary, right? Everything except money is down…values, patriotism, religion, families, and community…not great news for our communities, families, and country as a whole as is evident in any newscast or podcast you catch. And we wonder why we’re anxious and unsettled and our kids are even more so. What to do; what to do?


It all kinda reminds me of one of my favorite movies of all time, “Forrest Gump.” We all know the “Run, Forrest run!” and “Life is like a box of chocolates” quotes but there’s also a very timely message in the 1994 movie that relates to today. (For the record, my favorite quotes from the movie are “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks” and “If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He’d have given us all braces on our legs.”)



Forrest and childhood friend Jenny were “like peas and carrots,” but as the years went by, they each took a much different life path. Forrest opted for the classically American path of college, football, serving his country, starting his own business, and going to church. Jenny, on the other hand, chose the path of resistance and counterculture, which proved destructive and unhealthy. Through it all Forrest never stopped loving Jenny and never gave up on her and his love is ultimately what allowed her to find happiness.


It’s this kind of love society needs today; a today that has one side of America supporting traditional values and the other opposing them. We can only hope, like Forrest did, that eyes will be opened and true love will prevail even though all the Jennys out there seem so confident in their choices and decisions now. Like those WWII pilots, maybe it’s all about what we believe. Until then, the best thing we can do is be everyone’s Forrest. After all, stupid is as stupid does.




















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