Does it ever feel like you’re being swept along by life, powerless to implement any positive changes?
We often use phrases like “oh, that’s just life” or “life isn’t fair” – and while these can sometimes help us accept daily ups and downs, they also give the impression that life isn’t really under our control.
The truth is that you probably have more control (and at least more influence) than you think.
What Areas Are Already Under Your Control?
Some parts of your life are already under your full (or near-full) control. Think about:
- Your diet – healthy or unhealthy
- The time you choose to go to bed
- How much exercise you do – or don’t do
Yes, there’ll be external influences on some of these. Perhaps, for instance, you tell yourself that the reason you don’t eat well is because there’s nowhere near your workplace to buy a healthy lunch – so you end up at McDonald’s again.
But you always have options. In that situation, you could make a healthy lunch at home and take it to work, or even get together with colleagues to ask for better options in the work canteen – or simply to bring in fruit to share each day.
Don’t abdicate control. If you find yourself making excuses – “I’d love to eat healthier / get to bed earlier / do more exercise, but I can’t because…” – then spend some time looking at your options. You almost certainly have more power over your life than you realize.
Do it: Think of one area where you’ve been making excuses, and write down three ways in which you can put yourself back in control.
What Areas Can You At Least Influence?
Even if you don’t have full control over a particular aspect of your life, you have someinfluence.
At work, for instance, it’s very unlikely that you have control over how much you’re paid (unless you work for yourself). But you do have influence. If you want a raise, you can ask for one. You might choose not to – perhaps because you’re afraid you’ve not done enough to prove your worth, or because you’re shy of even asking – but you do have that option.
It’s the same in your home life. If you live with other people – family, or housemates – then you don’t have full control over your home environment. You can, however, exert your influence. If the untidiness of your house is driving you crazy, you can set new rules for your kids about keeping the place tidy. (If your partner’s the culprit, talk to them – they may not have any idea how much the state of the house is bothering you.)
Do it: Write down one or two problem areas in your life, where you don’t have full control. Brainstorm some ideas for influencing those situations for the better.
What Areas Are You Powerless Over?
When you really look hard at what’s going on at work and home, there’s a good chance you’ll find that you’re in control of – or at least have influence over – the majority of your life.
There will, however, be a few aspects that you simply don’t have any power to control or influence. The weather, for example, is an external factor that you can’t do anything about: if it rains on the Saturday when you planned to take the kids to the park, your plans get derailed.
What you cando about these uncontrollable aspects of life is to change your attitude to them. You have the choice whether to respond to the rain with anger and frustration, or with acceptance.
Do it: If there’s a persistent situation that bothers you on a regular basis, which you’re powerless over, then write down at least three ways to respond in a healthier, happier manner to it.
Is there a particular area of life where you’ve realized you do have control, or influence? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.