Being your best self absolutely means standing up and taking control of your life. It also means learning to identify and let go of the things that fall outside of your control. And honestly? It’s not always easy. The line can get blurred pretty quickly, leaving us feeling anxious and helpless or catapulting us into unreasonable control-freak mode.
So what can you do? How do you separate the two? I think this one simple rule is the easiest way to think about all this.
Think about it. You can control what food you put into your body and if you exercise daily. But you cannot control what number appears on the scale. You can extensively prepare for a job interview, but you can’t control whether or not you get the job. See what I mean?
In every situation in your life, there is your side of it that you can reign over. And then there’s the other side of it — other people’s reactions, God’s greater plan, the weather — that falls outside the realm of your rule. When you stress about these things, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, stress, frustration, and anxiety. But we do it. We all do it sometimes.
Friend, the point is that you’ll be shifting the odds in your favor and learning, growing, and evolving along the way. Remember when we talked about embracing the journey? Well, this is part of it.
As in all things in life, you need to strike a balance. To bring your A-game to life, you need to understand the importance of the effort you put in or the power of control you have over little things in any given moment. And you need to hone your ability to wash your hands of the rest and be fully at peace with whatever happens.
Have faith. Believe in a master plan that you simply know nothing about. God works in mysterious ways and often, the most devastating blows turn out to be our greatest blessings. Really. When doors don’t open for you, realize it’s all working out just how it should. Maybe those doors would lead you down the wrong path. Or maybe you’re just not ready for what’s behind that particular door just yet. The point is, it’s not for you to worry about. Place your anxiety and fears in the hands of God and keep working to better yourself so when the right door opens up for you, you are fully prepared to enter with gusto.
Tap into your gratitude. When you focus on what you do have and what has been provided for you, you shift from thoughts of lack to thoughts of abundance. There’s no point in wishing for a different outcome. Be grateful that you were able to do everything in your power in the situation. And think of the whole process as a learning experience that served to better prepare you for the next time something like this comes around.
Look at the bigger picture. When things don’t go as planned, it’s easy to get bogged down in the muck of the situation. You can become overwhelmed in the worry and obsession of every little detail. The best way to combat this “in the weeds” feeling is to take a few steps back, readjust your perspective until what you see is the whole, beautiful, colorful garden that is your life — and those tiny insignificant weeds begin to disappear.
Focus on the present moment. When you feel stressed about things outside your control, simply shift your focus to the precise moment you’re in. You are alive. You are well. You can control things in this very moment that will help you feel stronger and empowered and calm. You can control your own thoughts. You can control your own deep, measured breathing. You are 100% in control of you right now. Remind yourself of these things when something wreaks havoc on your hopes and your plans.
It’s not fun to have your dreams thwarted. But it is completely possible to accept it as something beyond the power of your control and move on from it. It’s simple when you really put it all into perspective. Train your brain to practice these simple release techniques and you’ll feel an incredible peace in no time. So go ahead and put in all you’ve got. But don’t attach your happiness, self-worth, or peace to the outcome — it’s not in your control.