3 steps to manage things you can’t control

I remember when I went to upgrade my iPhone and found out that Verizon doesn’t do that anymore. None of the carriers do. Full price. No deals. Continuing my dismay, they no longer transfer data from your old phone to your new phone.
I thought “this sucks” so I got on the phone with a friend to grumble about it. She empathized. But after a minute or two she said, “It’s getting awfully whiny in here.” Ouch!
She was right, of course. My righteous indignation (uh, complaining) wouldn’t change Verizon. It just kept my irritation alive. Gratefully her observation was the pattern interrupt I needed to stop giving attention to something I can’t control.

things you can’t control
Photo by Omar Prestwich on Unsplash

Do you ever get wound up about things you can’t control? It can be something as trivial as my cell phone issue or as big as a health problem – more rumination only leads to greater anxiety and stress.
While people and circumstances are outside your control, you can do something. Next time unwanted things come your way – like news, decisions, people’s actions, etc. – these three steps will keep you from getting stuck and help you move towards greater health, peace and happiness:

  1. Consider your response. I could get rid of my cell phone (I have occasional fantasies). I could find someone to help me transfer my phone data (I did. The Apple Store was great). I also sought out a better plan for less money, so it wasn’t all bad. In the case of something significant, like your job being potentially down-sized, gather information. Is there training that would improve the skills your employer desires? Have you wanted to start your own business? How could you research the viability? Is there another job or field you’ve always wanted to work in and now is the time to start checking it out?
  2. Pay attention to your dialogue. This means internal and external. Rehashing how awful something is or how someone said something mean, or how you wish you had done it differently…stop it all. Choose a helpful response. It may just be to stop talking about it – no one really wants to hear about it anyway, right? Maybe it’s finding a lesson or something beneficial in the situation. Even if you don’t find anything, the act of seeking the good will put you in a positive, growth-oriented mindset.
  3. Decide if you’re willing to change. Organizations make decisions that impact you and you choose how to respond. People make decisions you wish they wouldn’t and, again, you choose how to react. Sometimes though you encounter self-made problems. Poor health decisions or financial mistakes that cannot be undone. Mean-spirited words that cannot be recalled from the ether. But the next decision is in your control. Will you do what’s necessary to improve your health or finances, or dwell on how bad it is? Will you choose to repair a relationship even if it’s uncomfortable to ask for forgiveness? This is where knowing your core values and having a vision is so valuable.

That’s it! Three steps to taking charge of what you can control so that you get unstuck and move towards greater health, peace and happiness. Share with me what you’ve been chewing on that it’s time to change or let go of.

1 thought on “3 steps to manage things you can’t control”

  1. Excellent! Works for me right now. Attitude is everything. If we choose, it can keep us positive instead of dealing in the negative. It can motivate us to change in the face of uncontrollable circumstances, and it provides us with a reason to engage in self-review. That makes it possible to say that in the face of things that we can’t control there are blessings in the hard work that will follow if we choose to roll with whatever punches are being thrown.


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