Focusing on What You Can Control and What to do With the Rest
Power and control are important aspects and attributes to understand. Both for ourselves and also in terms of the people around us. Power and control especially play a role in our close relationships and when there are big power struggles, it’s important to know what to do with these because they will inevitably cause relationships to crumble. First I need to touch on accountability because accountability is closely tied to power and control and I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to understand these dynamics if you want to live a life that is more powerful and authentic.
Accountability versus Blame
Some of the most unhealthy adults that I have ever worked with were ones that were unable to make any distinction between blame and accountability. They aren’t even interested in trying to understand the difference, to them, it’s all the same; one big ball of wax. It’s all black and white. They put one hundred percent of the blame on certain individuals or groups and refuse to acknowledge a single ounce of responsibility in the overall problem. They refuse to take any accountability and blame but expect others to take it from them. You can see where I’m going with this but there’s one very important and distinct difference between accountability and blame. Accountability is taking ownership for the things inside of your control and blame is when you’re expected to take ownership for things outside of your control.
If you sat down a made of things outside of your control and a list of things that are inside of your control, one list would be extremely lopsided compared to the other. The most important thing to always remember when it comes to things that you can or can’t control is this: you cannot control other people. Well, at least not without doing things are quite illegal and harmful. The more you try to control other people, the more frustrated and out of control that you’re going to be. Trying to control other people is one of the magic ingredients for creating a monster. Granted, there are times when it may seem like we are in control of others but it’s an illusion and exists only because the other person has granted us that level of control and influence and will inevitably take that control back either in covert ways or overt ways. One guaranteed way to have drama and chaos in your life is to try and control one of the number one things that you can’t control: other people. Stop it. Stop trying to control other people. Focus on what you can actually control which, of course, is you.
I think it’s really important to break that down though. We say that you can only control yourself but what does that actually mean? Let’s break it down into specifics. You can exercise control over your physical health. You can manage what you eat and drink, you can manage when and you can manage how much. You can manage your exercise and physical movement. You can manage when you go to bed and when you wake up.
You can choose who you associate with both personally and professionally and you can choose when the gate of association swings open and when it slams shut. Much of the time you can choose to whether or not to interact with certain people and if you’re forced to interact with them for one reason or another you can choose how much you want to speak with or listen to them.
You can choose where to put your money and choose how to manage it. You can choose to spend your free time doing things that are meaningful or you can choose to blow it off. There are so many things that you can actually control but perhaps the most important thing that you can choose is that you can choose how to view situations, people and events. When you change your perspective on certain things then you will change how you feel about it and perhaps this is the most important thing you can control but likely spend little effort doing.
If you don’t learn to manage your emotions, your emotions will manage you and learning to manage emotions is a matter of learning how to control and manage your thoughts and perceptions. And while it’s important to manage your thoughts and therefore emotions about other people and the world around you, it’s equally, if not more important to manage your thoughts and perceptions about yourself. Human psyche does some really interesting things when it comes to the beliefs and stories that we have wrapped around ourselves and our lives and the sooner that you work to see through the illusion, the better.
Are you actively striving to manage these and other areas of your life? Are you focusing on the areas of control outlined in this article? If not then get busy focusing on some of these things and a lot more will follow. Stop trying to control things that you can’t control. That just leads to resentment, frustration, powerlessness and sometimes hopelessness.
If this line of thinking and doing resonates with you and gives you some idea as to where to start for improving your life that’s a great sign for you and it shows that you’re willing to work on starting the first steps to taking ownership of your life and living more authentically. If you found this helpful, you will love our module on self-control and taking control of your life so be sure to check it out.