With Covid hanging around, a number of my clients have been stressing about things that are really not in their control. Some things are simply uncontrollable and it is exhausting to obsess over them—not to mention disempowering since we can’t control what’s in our power when we’re fixated on things that aren’t.
Then, this week I received a wonderful email (from Lori Deschene who has a delightful blog called Tiny Buddha) around control.
I thought I would share with you a few of the items on her amazing list of fifteen things we can’t control, what we can control instead, and what, specifically, we can do to own our power. You can access the full list and Letting Go of Control worksheet here.
1. YOU CAN’T CONTROL: WHAT OTHER PEOPLE DO.
You can control: Whether you participate in their behaviour or enable them.
Some specific things you can do: Trust other people to make their own decisions and accept that you’re not responsible for their choices or the consequences of their actions. Consider that their choices and outcomes are somehow necessary for their growth. Recognize that you can accept their behaviour without condoning it, participating in it, or enabling it. And set boundaries if their actions are hurtful to your physical, emotional, or mental health.
2. YOU CAN’T CONTROL: HOW OTHER PEOPLE SEE YOU.
You can control: How you show up in your relationships and how you see yourself.
Some specific things you can do: Make a list of traits you’d like to embody in your relationships—kindness, honesty, or integrity, for example—and check in with yourself throughout the day to ensure you’re being the kind of person you want to be. Take a little time every night to reflect on everything you did that day that made you proud.
3. YOU CAN’T CONTROL: HOW OTHER PEOPLE TREAT YOU.
You can control: How you internalize and respond to their treatment.
Some specific things you can do: Recognize that their behaviour isn’t personal; it’s more about them and their own pain and limitations than you. Communicate how their behaviour affects you, set boundaries around what you will and will not accept, and plan what you’ll do to enforce those boundaries and what you’ll do if someone crosses them. If the other person regularly treats you with callousness or disrespect, create distance in a relationship or end it altogether.
4. YOU CAN’T CONTROL: WHETHER OTHER PEOPLE LIKE YOU.
You can control: How true you are to yourself.
Some specific things you can do: Remind yourself that no one is liked by everyone and that you don’t have to win anyone’s approval. You just need to be yourself so you can find like-minded people, people who accept and appreciate you just as you are. Also, list what it means to you to be true to yourself and check in with yourself regularly to see if you’re adhering to your list.
5. YOU CAN’T CONTROL: WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK, FEEL, AND BELIEVE.
You can control: How you engage with your different opinions, feelings, and beliefs.
Some specific things you can do: Set boundaries around conversations (which topics you won’t discuss, or what you’ll do to stay calm when hot button issues come up). Remind yourself that it’s not your job to change people’s minds. Look for common ground—something you can both agree on, even if you think differently. And remember that you don’t need to see eye-to-eye on everything to have a strong relationship; you just need to respect each other.
6. YOU CAN’T CONTROL: HOW OTHER PEOPLE INTERNALIZE THINGS YOU SAY AND DO.
You can control: Your intentions and how you respond when you unintentionally hurt someone.
Some specific things you can do: Communicate how you feel if you fear you’ve upset someone and clarify your intentions if you think there’s been a misunderstanding. Also, trust that other people will tell you if they’re upset, and recognize it’s not your job to read their minds if they don’t speak up.
7. YOU CAN’T CONTROL: YOUR THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS.
You can control: Whether you attach to them, identify with them, or act on them.
Some specific things you can do: Accept that thoughts and feelings come and go, and they are never permanent. They also don’t mean anything about you as a person. Also, practice pausing before acting on a thought or feeling so you can respond from a place of calmness and clarity.
I do hope these help you focus better on what you can control. You can never control others nor what’s coming however you can always control how you will react, whether you are strong enough to cope with a situation and even how to make the best of it.