It's not unusual these days to be reminded of the difference between what we can control and what we can't.
I remember my mom advising me when I was a kid to not worry about things I couldn't control. In my cocky youth, I thought I could control anything if I worked hard enough! Right? Wrong.
Accepting that I could not control things just because I was a hard worker was discouraging. Can't anything be possible with hard work and perseverance?
There was good news, of course. A third category exists: things that can happen and I am still ok.
It took a while for that list to develop, but in time I began to learn that some things in the list of things I can't control weren't necessarily things I had to deal with or accept in spite of my plans, but that in fact they didn't have to be anything at all.
Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that circumstances beyond our control are something to be tolerated or endured. Even acknowledging them feels like a pain. "I can't control what so-and-so says, I can only control my response." Sound familiar?
Thinking ahead about how so-and-so might say something annoying sets the expectation that not only will that happen, but that it will be bad and you'll have to respond positively. That thought took energy, and since it was a defensive thought, I'm willing to bet it was negative energy.
What if instead, so-and-so and the things they do were in a third column, a category of things that don't affect you at all? Things that are allowed to exist without you having an opinion about them?
How much energy would that save? How much energy would that free up for fun things, for creative thinking, for your own peace of mind?
Give it a try this week. Instead of categorizing events as things you either can or cannot control, let them be in the third column of things that are okay. Then, when they happen, just say "okay." Or "great." Or nothing.
Now I know what you're thinking. Not everything is okay, Heather! I know, but that's okay too. With patience and practice, when those things come up, you won't be able to say "okay" and feel okay about it. Then you'll know it's something you really have to deal with. And even then, it will be okay.
There will always be things we can control and things we can't. And there are things that just are. Open up the third column, and see who is really in control.
About This Blog
Each week, I write the "Healthy Heather Blog" in the Tallahassee Democrat. It is republished here in case you are not a subscriber (what???). Sometimes it is really good and other times it is just okay. Thanks for reading it regardless of your opinion!