“We need to focus on what we can control, rather than what we can’t, because if you spend too much time trying to control the weather, you’ll miss out on the sun.”
There are so many things in this life that we can’t control. The weather, the opinions of others, who our next prime minister will be, and certainly not the impact of Brexit on our society. We can try and sway people by being the YES-MAN, we can vote in every election and we can pray every day for the sun, but the reality is, if we spend our life fighting against the rain, everything else in life passes us by.
As cliche as it sounds, we need to focus our energy on what we can control, as opposed to what we can’t. Not only does this help our outlook on life and our mental health, but it removes us from the daily grind of autopilot and forces us to focus on being more aware of ourselves.
Yes, there are many things we’re unable to control in life, but there are also an abundance of things that we can.
*This post has been edited in light of COVID-19. Now, more than ever, we need to focus on the things we’re able to control and let go of what we can’t. We can grieve the loss of spending time with friends and family, the loss of a trip, the loss of a job etc. But remember this virus is outside your control. This is NOT your fault and your current circumstances are outside your control.
Things you can control RIGHT NOW!
One; How you interpret situations.
You can’t control how someone interacts with you, but you can control how you choose to interpret it. Step back and think about how you’re going to react before it happens. What are you thinking and why? What can you do right now, and what should you take away from this?
Two; How you treat others.
Kindness. Forgiveness. Warmth. Compassion. These are only a few ways that you can positively choose to treat people. I’m a firm believer in karma, and what you put out into the world will come back to you. Some would even say it comes back threefold! So, I’m always cautious about treating people fairly and compassionately.
That does not mean that you are free to be walked over! Do not allow someone to undermined your or treat you disrespectfully. Refer to the above point on how you can approach those situations mindfully.
Three: What articles/blogs/books you read.
The media we consume can be the making or breaking of our mental health. If you’re constantly looking at models who Photoshop, face tune and generally alter their photos to rid themselves of lumps and bumps; how does that affect you? Does that make you feel good about your unaltered body in it’s natural state? No, of course not.
While weaning myself back to social media in February ’19, I made a point to go through both Instagram and Facebook and unfollowed all the accounts that caused me harm. That meant having to make harsh decisions when it came to my friend’s list too, as some of them constantly promoted weight loss. Sadly, that also meant unfollowing a great few people on Instagram who were in recovery. Not because I didn’t want to support them, but because their own recovery bodies/pre-recovery bodies/the words they used triggered me so intensely.
Remember; You can in control of the media you consume. If you are in a dark place and continue to read nothing but triggering content, or look at triggering images, chances are you won’t be leaving that place anytime soon.
Four; When you ask for help.
Asking for help is hard. I’m not going to sit here and deny that. But making the choice to allow yourself to ask someone, anyone, for help is up to you.
You can control when you reach out and admit that you’re struggling.
Five; Whether or not you eat.
This is so important, especially if you’re in recovery from an eating disorder (like me).
You control if you nourish yourself, and what with.
Remember by allowing yourself to eat you are topping up the resources your body needs to keep on going. Hunger causes so much unbalance, and often leaves us unproductive, lethargic and, sometimes, hangry!
If you have issues with compulsive eating or emotional eating, then by practice control over your food intake, you are taking the reigns back from Binge Eating! You are making the conscious choice to prevent the guilt following a binge.
Six; How many times you say ‘I love you‘.
Say if loud and say it often to your loved ones!
You can never say I love you too much!
Seven; Whether or not you judge other people.
You can’t control if other people judge you, but you can control your judgment of others. It takes practice, and won’t happen overnight. If you work in an environment where the bitching is high, it can be even harder. BUT no one likes being judged, especially unfairly.
When you catch yourself saying or thinking judgemental things, mentally pull yourself aside and remind yourself that you don’t like it, so nor would they!
Eight; How much time you spend worrying.
I’m an anxious person by nature, and I get how easy it is to get drawn into worrying. There is certain things we can do though. We can stop ourselves mid-worry, and gently take one step at a time.
What am I worrying about?
Will worrying about it now change anything?
Is there anything I can do, or is it out of my control?
I used to worry about all the things that I really couldn’t control. On occasion, I still do, but I’ve learned to walk through it slowly in my head and determine if it’s really helping anything.
“Robbing never robs tomorrow of it’s sorrow, it only saps today of it’s joy.”Leo.F. Buscaglia.
Nine; How you speak to yourself.
Controlling what we say to ourselves is so, so important. The internal conversations we have with ourselves can make or break our mental health. Being positive and compassionate builds a healthier level of self-esteem than if we are always talking down to ourselves.
Think before you speak. Is it helpful? Are you being overly critical? Would you say it to your best friend? No to all of these? Go back and try again.
Speak to yourself how you would speak to your friends, your nieces, nephews or even your kids!
Ten; The effort you put in.
Put in the effort in your recovery and you’ll reap the benefits. Don’t kill yourself, but always do your best in every situation and you’ll never have any regrets about your performance.
What else do you think is within your control?
These are only a small selection of the things in life which are well within your control, no matter the situation. Don’t burden yourself with worries that aren’t yours to carry. Do what you can for yourself and the ones you love, and STOP high jacking the worries of others.
Easier said than done, right?