Just accept it! There will always be things in life that you will not be able to control. And… there are many others that you can control.
It will rain, the ground will shake under your feet and other people will do things you would rather they did not. But you can decide on what to wear, decide to build your life on solid ground and decide about the meaning you give to events and others’ actions.
It is about you to decide where you want to put your focus and the consequences to you of that decision.
The first step is to clearly understand the difference and separate the things you can control from the things you cannot. Focus on the first!
The second step is to take responsibility for the things you can control and act upon… or not! Either case, take full responsibility for your actions or lack of them. You will make your move (or not) and you will get the outcome.
When things go wrong, again, take responsibility. Own it! Responsibility is not the same as guilt, as responsibility takes an inherent motivation to improve, thus empowering us. Guilt, on the opposite, is an exercise of judgement and punishment taking us to chronic powerlessness. In a sense, blaming ourselves is no different from blaming others. We become victims, if not from others’ actions, from actions that come from our inner self that we cannot control – “I’m like this… I was always like this… there’s nothing I can do to change it“… Say with me: bullshit!
When things go right, celebrate! Feel the joy! Own it!
Then, there will be the things you cannot control. Many of these will scream for our attention, triggering fear, anxiety, and pain. Again, make a pause and identify them as such, things you cannot control.
If life events fall in the range of the things you cannot control, these events are just bits of information arriving to your system to be processed. You have the power to decide what meaning to attach to these events and, consequently, what will be your next action. I did not use here the word reaction on purpose. You react when you just “see” the triggering event. You want to decide your next action taking all the knowledge and context of the situation. Furthermore, you want to use the most valuable skill we have as humans, our ability to make predictions. Simulate the outcomes of your possible actions and select which one to take. And yes, I know, there will be uncertainty and disturbances. It is called life!
You took decisions that brought you to your present situation. These decisions were taken from the emotional state and the knowledge you had at that time, not from the current perspective. Relate the decisions you took with the outcomes you got and the contexts. Learn from it! Use it to improve your prediction engine.
Wrapping up, accept the things you cannot control and take responsibility for your next action… but clearly separate both! Do not do things because of events that happened. Do your things because you have decided to do them. See the difference? Do not blame the events for your actions (or reactions), it is always your decision what to do next.
What you get out of this? Control is power! No more, “I lost this opportunity because I was stuck in traffic!” – use your predictive capability and “take your ass out of bed one hour earlier!”. “My boss this…”, “the market that…”, “the pandemic, you know…”. Stop! Bosses, markets, pandemics… they will always be there and you if you focus on them you will be paralyzed. Just ask yourself: with all the knowledge I have about the situation, what is the best action that I can do next? And then move on!
You can get control of your life by taking the full responsibility of everything – I mean EVERYTHING – that happens to you. But it is your decision to do it or not.
If this message resonates with you and you want to explore these thoughts further, feel free to contact me for a conversation.
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Featured photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash