Control and the Uncontrollable
When I was researching this article, I came across a couple of article titles that I pulled: “Don’t Try and Control the Uncontrollable” and “How to Control the Uncontrollable”. The perspectives in each article were a little different but the information was remarkably similar. As our world is increasingly changing the status quo we are constantly facing our battles. The uncertainty of what will happen next is tying us up in knots. Let’s see what we can unravel.
Don’t Try and Control the Uncontrollable
Let’s start with this perspective first.
How much time do you spend worrying or getting stressed over things you have no control over? It is easy to get trapped in this worry cycle. But it can stop you from focusing on areas that you do have some control.
1. Understand what is within and outside of your control.
By determining what is within and outside of your control you can start to move forward in a more positive way.
2. Accept that you cannot control the uncontrollable.
By accepting the things that you have little or no control over you will be surprised how quickly you start to feel more in control. You can choose how you think about these things and spend less time worrying about them and have more time to focus on the areas you can control.
3. Change your reaction to things that you have little or no control over.
Now that you understand the things you can’t control you can change your reaction to them. You are giving your brain a break and allowing it to not shoot off into a threat response. It is good to have a quiet brain.
4. Focus on the areas that are within your control.
Once you have identified the areas you have control over – you can focus on them.
5. Set goals for the areas within your control.
You have reduced your distraction and are able to concentrate on how you want to pursue the areas you have control. By understanding what you want to achieve, you will be more likely to get there.
6. Plan the action you are going to take.
Plan on how you are going to achieve your goals. This plan will keep you focused on the outcomes.
7. Act on the things you can control.
By focusing on the areas, you can control you will start to feel much more control in moving forward. You will also find that you will have more time for this work because you are not worrying about all the areas you don’t have control over.
8. Share with others.
Often it is difficult to see for yourself that you are getting worried about something that is out of your control. You might feel anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed. At that point it is helpful to talk with someone else about it. Try talking to someone who is impartial and can give you a fresh perspective.
9. Remember that you have a choice.
Always remember that you have a choice about how you think and fell about things, as well as how you react to them.
How to Control the Uncontrollable
This perspective looks at how the pandemic has affected mental health. The pandemic has attacked every part of what it means to be human. Since we don’t know the actual endpoint – if there is one – of this pandemic we need to start filling our heads with good stuff to support us. Even before the pandemic, mental health issues were a massive drain on the world economy, costing $1-trillion dollars each year in lost productivity. The pandemic is the ultimate uncontrollable force in our lives. So, what can we do?
1. Understand that you could be suffering from and not knowing what it is doing to you.
If you experience any of the following, a lack of control could be impacting you personally.
· A need to gossip and find out what everyone else is thinking
· Reduced productivity at work or at home (or both)
· Unable to drop a subject or walk away from a discussion/argument
· Overworking and burnout
· Illness – physical and mental
· A feeling of Them and Us mentality –“People don’t get it!”
· Lack of Creativity
· A lack of interest in hobbies and chores
· Feeling angry and resentful
These are just some of the things that a lack of control can do to you.
2. Ask yourself: Is it really true?
Start with you and what you think. The way you see the world, shapes your world. If you feel like you have no control, that is the way the world will be. Look around you, everything you see started as a thought in a human’s head. That screen you look at, the shape, color, design were conscious decisions people made. It’s hard to see the connection between what we think and what we get. We cannot magically make the issue disappear, but we control how we feel about it. You do not need to know how you do this, but acknowledging how you see the world and what it does to you physically, emotionally, and mentally, you can then decide “I’d like something better than this!”
3. Create a mental health tool kit
Perhaps you have heard of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. In DBT you learn the first thing to do when things are too much for you is to R.E.S.T. – rest, evaluate, set an intention, and act. You van practice this technique by working on something that stops you in your tracks. Find something to help you stop thinking – listening to a song, playing hide and seek with the dog, meditate, or something else. Anything works that stops your brain from continually thinking.
4. Challenge what you know to be true
You need to challenge what you believe to be true. Statements like:
· I must work that many hours to get it all done.
· Everyone is stressed out, there’s nothing that we can do about it.
· It will be better when the pandemic is over – we’ve just got to put up with it.
These are signs that you need to challenge what you believe. You don’t stop the
Sun from rising, why? Because you know it to be out of your control. Do you try to get out of the way of a stampeding bull. Yes, but why? Because you believe
you have control.
These are obvious examples, but it is not always obvious. In life, the statements that take away your control are likely to be more subtle and are the statements that no one pays attention to.
5. Remind yourself that there is another way
To change what you get you must change what you think. What do you need to believe?
This is called reframing. It is the ability to find the potential in the harshest of situations. It takes practice but if you persevere, you can find something good in anything and it will help you have more control of your thoughts. More control of your thoughts leads to better thoughts and better actions and results.
· I miss going out – becomes – I’ve saved so much money
· I miss working in the office – becomes – I don’t miss that commute and I adore having hugs from the children/partner/dog/cat in between meetings
· I feel isolated – becomes – I am learning to appreciate my own company and the person I am
At this stage, you don’t need to believe it is true, you just need to be able to reword your thoughts.
6. Turn your brain around
Remember that you create solutions to the way you think and what actions you will take, your brain is going to prove you right regardless.
The disadvantage of this is it stops you from finding new better ways of working since your brain wants to keep you safe – believing you’ve done all you can and there is nothing more that can be done.
A great example of this in action was someone struggling with working from home. Working longer hours, they were exhausted and felt like quitting. Eating poorly and helping the children with their homework was the final straw. They felt like they had no life and couldn’t see it changing. They held on firmly to the belief that they had to wait for the pandemic to go to have their life back. This took all their control away and ensured they would be stuck for an exceedingly long time.
What madness to think you need to do it all? They started asking for help and getting the family involved. And now they work a lot less hours and even manage to stay awake in the evenings to watch a film or read a book.
The Bottom Line
Remember that nothing stays the same. This golden nugget is essential knowledge we all need when we lack control. Good or bad, everything changes.
(Mandie Holgate. How to Control the Uncontrollable in Life)
Holgate, M. (March 16, 2021). How to control the uncontrollable in life. Retrieved from https://www.lifehack.org
Makin, L. Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Retrieved from makinithappen.co.uk/Articles/Don’t-Try-And-Control-The-Uncontrollable.html