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Are You Worrying About Things Outside of Your Control?

The answer to the question in the title has probably been yes at some point in your life. It could be said that most people probably at least once have worried about something that they have no control over. It’s easy to do because there are so many uncertainties in life and among the world; from personal challenges to global events, those uncertainties and unknowns can feel incredibly large, causing and contributing to increased stress and anxiety. However, that’s what makes it extra important to work on letting go of the things we cannot change and find peace in the uncertainties of life. Throughout this blog we will discuss ways to navigate through that and strategies to help put this into practice.

Before we can let go of the things outside of our control, we first have to identify and understand what is in our control versus what is not. Looking at the circle of control can be helpful for this. 

​​ It can be seen by looking at the image above that there are a few different parts when it comes to the “circle of control.” The innermost circle focuses specifically on what’s in our individual control, the one right outside of that focuses on areas that we have some influence over but not full control, and then the outer circle focuses on things we can be concerned about but have no control over. 

We have control over our own feelings, actions, thoughts, behaviors, the way we speak, what boundaries we set and adhere to, etc., But while we may have influence over certain aspects of our lives, there are many variables beyond our reach. Accepting this reality can free ourselves from the potential burden of constant worry.

We do not have control of others, what they do, how they feel, how they react, how they communicate, or anything that is necessarily related to other people. With that being said, we do have some influence over our relationships with others, and what we say to them or how we treat them can influence how they respond and react sometimes. Certain moments and situations we will feel like we may have more control than other times, or we may feel like we have no control at all and feel stuck. Recognizing that we always have control over our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, actions, etc. can sometimes ease that feeling a little bit, to gain some semblance of control back over the situation.

Some people may question why it’s important to let go of some things that are out of our control. But asking yourself what the benefits of thinking about and worrying or stressing about something that you cannot do anything about can sometimes put things into a different perspective. If we are constantly worrying about things beyond our control, it can take a toll on our mental health, increasing anxiety, stress, and burnout. When we let go of those worries, it can free up that mental space and energy, allowing us to focus on what truly matters to us, and something potentially within our control.

When we release the need to control everything, we can open ourselves up to a sense of inner peace and serenity. Instead of fighting against the currents of life, we can learn to flow with them, accepting the ebb and flow of circumstances with grace and resilience.

Letting go of worries also cultivates resilience, enabling us to bounce back from setbacks and challenges more effectively. By focusing on what we can control - our thoughts, actions, and responses - we can build inner strength and adaptability.

Now that we’ve identified why it can be vital for us to try and focus on what’s in our control instead of worrying about what’s out of our control, the question is: how do we do that? It can be easier said than done, but let’s talk through some ways that you can work on this on your own, on a daily basis if needed, to make sure you are not letting things outside of your control take power over your thoughts, feelings, and overall life.

Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga, can help to calm the mind and bring us back to the present moment. By focusing on the here and now, it can be a tad easier to let go of the worries about the past or future. 

Challenging negative thoughts is important to make sure we are not believing things that are not true, as well as can help put things into a different perspective than we originally may have thought. When worries arise, challenge them with rational and factual thinking. Ask yourself if the situation is in your control and whether worrying or thinking about it will change the outcome. If not, try to reframe negative thoughts into more positive and empowering perspectives. 

Focus on what’s in your control. Again, easier said than done, but important to continuously remind yourself. Direct your energy towards aspects of your life that you can influence, such as your attitude, habits, and goals. By taking proactive steps towards positive change, you can regain a sense of agency and control over your life.

Along with all of that, practicing gratitude can shift our focus from what we lack to what we have. Take time each day to reflect on the blessings and positives in your life, no matter how small. Gratitude reminds us of the good things and can make it easier to let go of worries.

In a world full of uncertainty, learning to let go of worries beyond our control is a valuable skill. By understanding what we can and cannot control, prioritizing our mental health, and adopting practical strategies for letting go, we can find peace amongst the chaos. Remember that letting go is a journey and will not come overnight; be gentle and kind to yourself as you navigate the ups and downs of life.

Written By,

Emily Blair, ALMFT



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