Just like the Janet Jackson song, we all feel our best when we feel in control.
But lately it seems like everything in life is spinning out of control. So much is changing and sometimes it is tough just to keep up.
Regardless of what the world once was (whether you remember it as perfect, or flawed), we still like things to remain how they used to be.
But that simply isn’t possible.
That’s because the world has changed and so have we. And truthfully, that’s how it’s supposed to be. And even though deep down we know this to be true, it still doesn’t alleviate the stress of change and that feeling of a loss of control.
In part one of this blog, we learned about all the things we can’t control.
Why is that important?
Because it allows us to see that worrying, stressing and feeling anxious about these things is a big waste of time because none of it is doing any good at all.
Things We Can Control
In Part 2, we are going to look at the things we actually can control.
And when we start to make those changes, ahhhh.. that is when the real magic begins.
(It’s not actually magic but it sure feels like it.)
It’s actually you spending your time focusing and working on those things that make you feel more in control.
Let’s go back to this graphic and focus on the inner circle: those things you can control.
A 2020 study by healthline.com suggests people typically have more than 6000 thoughts per day. And another study says, of those thoughts, 70-80% are negative.
We think about all the bad things we did in the past, how we will most likely have things mess up in the future too.
Working on ways to think more positively and taking actions that back up those positive thoughts will help you feel so much more hopeful and optimistic.
So how do you get started?
Here are a few tips:
Start focusing on the good in your life.
What are the good things in your life right now? What are the good things that happened when you were a child, a teenager or young adult? Write them down so you can “see” the good too.
Focus your thoughts on all those things for which you are grateful and practice this when you wake up and before you go to bed
Keep a list of all the things for which you are grateful and try to add one new thing to it each and every day. By the end of 30 days you should have at least 30 things that are positive to focus your attention on and for which to be grateful.
As for your actions, you are always in control of what you do, what you choose not to do, and even when you do “nothing” you are still choosing.
One good rule of thumb to keep in mind when deciding which action to take is asking yourself: ”If I choose to do _____, will this hurt or harm me or anyone else in the short term or in the long run?”
Or by asking: “Will it get me closer to my desired goal or will it move me away from the goal?” By controlling our thoughts and our actions we can start thinking, feeling, and acting in ways that make us truly feel good.
How I Speak to Myself
How are you speaking to yourself? Are you your best cheerleader, encourager, and friend? Or are you your worst critic, dis-courager and enemy?
Just hours before writing this blog, I was talking to someone and referred to myself as an “idiot”. Even I was shocked at the mean comment toward myself and I know better and practice this daily.
This goes to show that this “mean girl” attitude exists in all of us and can rear its ugly head despite the continued practice of speaking kindly to yourself.
The difference now is I can immediately recognize it, apologize to myself and redirect the mean comment to something much more loving.
Think about all those mean things you say about yourself on a daily basis.
Stop right now and write as many of them down as you can remember or as they come up for you during the course of the day.
After you have your list (and you can always add to the list) apologize to yourself for saying such mean things.
Then take all of those mean things you said and really think about them? Are they true? If not, you are lying to yourself. If there is some truth to it, are they things that need to be said? If it’s true and something that needs to be said, how can you say it more lovingly” Practice saying these things to yourself instead.
Another way to start speaking more kindly to yourself is to think of a small child you love, or a dog, cat or beloved pet. Think of their sweetness, their kindness and their innocence. You were once young too.
Try saying those mean things to your inner small child and see how that feels.
It seems kind of cruel doesn’t it? It’s just as cruel saying these things to your adult self as well.
That’s why so many in the personal and spiritual development field highly recommend positive affirmations.
Your subconscious starts to believe what it hears from the person who speaks to it the most. Be aware of what words you are speaking and feed your spirit a healthy dose of loving kindness.
How I Spend My Free Time
Most of us say we don’t have the time to do the things we dream of doing. That might be to start a side business, or go back to school for a degree, practice guitar, read a book, or head to the gym for a workout.
But the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is they make the time for the things important to them.
They prioritize what is important and make sure they put those things on their schedule.
Want to eat healthy but say you don’t have the time? Meal plan and meal prep. This saves more time than you can imagine because you plan ahead those meals you are going to cook, buy the ingredients at the store and prepare things so that you can make cooking a healthy meal faster than grabbing a take out menu and waiting for the delivery.
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? What’s the last thing you do before bed? If you are like most Americans you are reaching for the phone or taking one last look before you turn out the lights. Social media has become our entertainment, our news source, our go to for gossip, and the list goes on.
How many times have you opened your phone to check one thing, and the next thing you know, it’s an hour later and you can’t even remember why you got online in the first place?
I have a name for that, it’s called going down the scroll hole. And it is a complete waste of time. Time you could be spending doing something you love, learning something new, rediscovering an old passion or spending time with those you love.
How you spend your time is in your control when you make the time for what’s important.
What I Give My Energy To
Have you ever had a conversation with a person and once it ended you felt absolutely drained?
It’s as if they sucked the energy right out of you.
Well, they did.
Many refer to these people as energy vampires for that reason. If you have too many of these people in your life or spend a lot of time with these types of people it’s a guarantee you will feel terrible..
You are in control of what you give your energy to and who you give your energy to.
Guard it as if it were as precious as gold, because it is.
If what you are doing is draining you, then you need to find a way to either breathe new life and purpose into it, or consider doing less of it.
Once you start spending time doing things you love it fills your tank.
It’s the same with people too.
If you spend more time with people you enjoy you will find your tank closer to full than always empty..
And be mindful of the energy you bring to projects and other people too.
Ask yourself: Am I a fountain? Or a drain?
Always strive to be a fountain.
The Goals I Set
There are those who have many dreams and that’s all they ever are.
And then there are those who have goals set to achieve their dreams.
A goal is a dream with a deadline.
You get to set the goal and set the pace.
If you want a better life or if you want to feel better about your life, ask yourself, “what do I need to do to make this happen?”
And then really think about it.
Write down what needs to change and more importantly what you are willing to do to change it. And set a deadline.
If it’s something small, set a 30 day goal. If it’s a larger goal, give yourself time and try setting smaller goals that lead up to it. There’s nothing quite as rewarding as achieving a goal you set for yourself. It helps build belief and self confidence, and helps you to feel more in control of your life.
How I Handle Challenges
How do you handle challenges in life?
Set backs, disappointments, and even tragedy are all a part of the human condition. But so are victories, laughter, and triumphs.
So many times, we dive right into the sadness, frustration and anger of the bad situations and brush off the wonderful things that happen in our lives.
Dare I say we take the good for granted and then feel cheated and defeated when the bad happens?
How we handle challenges in life is all within our control.
We can either blame someone or something, live in a state of anger, sadness and fear, and choose to live as a victim.
Or we can assess the situation, give ourselves the time and permission to work through and heal, and ask: “What now?”
Then listen to what comes and take the steps necessary to step back into hope, healing and joy.
This is not easy to do, and many times you will waffle back and forth. But it can be done and it is totally within your control.
There’s a reason you are always asked to volunteer, to stay a bit later after work, to pet sit, to run errands for your parents, watch the grandchildren, or host events, it’s because you always say yes.
If you love doing these things, that’s wonderful.
If you feel stressed doing these things, you may want to cut back.
But if you are sick and tired of always being the only one stepping up to the plate, then you my friend need to start setting healthy boundaries.
For many women, controlling your boundaries might be the most difficult thing to do.
As women we are by nature, nurturers. But too many times, we nurture the wants, needs and desires of others over our own.
Doing this over and over again can lead to burnout, not to mention underlying anger and resentment issues.
You may have heard the term, you can’t pour from an empty cup, but if you don’t set healthy boundaries for yourself, that is exactly what you are continually trying to do.
No wonder you feel so exhausted, and empty.
You cannot be everything to everybody and if what they are asking of you is taking time away from your own self care, good health or rest, you have to set a boundary.
So why does this seem so hard to do?
Because, as little girls we are taught to be nice girls, good girls, helpful girls.
As Christian women we are told to give to others first.
And as moms, we are always putting the needs of our spouse and children ahead of our own.
It has been embedded in our brains and practically imprinted in our DNA to give and give and give. But never once are we told we are deserving of love and nurturing too.
It’s also difficult to change a behavior when everyone around you is used to you always giving.
Setting healthy boundaries in theory sounds like a great idea, practicing it on the other hand is an entirely different ballgame.
The moment we set the boundary, the person for whom we set the boundary, is most likely going to protest.
But setting healthy boundaries is not just the right thing to do, it’s the necessary thing to do.
By always saying yes, we are holding others back from giving and growing and learning how to do things on their own.
By setting healthy boundaries you are giving yourself the opportunity to in turn to self nurture so that you can feel refreshed, renewed and energized.
Taking stock of those things you can control can be overwhelming at times and can be some of the most difficult work you can do as a human being. But as author and entrepreneur John Addison says, “we are not just human beings, we are human becomings”. So practice the things you find most challenging.
And if you need help and support becoming your best you, you might want to consider hiring a coach or therapist to help you let go of the things you can’t control and work on building those things you can.