Learning To Cope With Things Out of Our Control

At some point, we all have had to deal with a situation that was out of our control. Whether it is the global pandemic, a car accident, financial difficulties, or the death of a loved one, these events can cause fear, sadness, anxiety, and stress, which can negatively impact our overall health and well-being and our outlook on life.  Learning how to cope with events that are out of our control will help keep us in a positive frame of mind and reduce our stress.           

Even if you do not consider yourself to be religious or spiritual, take a moment to reflect on the words of the Serenity Prayer, written by Reinhold Niebuhr:

“God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.”

These wise words speak to the fact that we can only control our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and when we accept what we cannot control, we can begin to find peace of mind.

Worrying about the people or events that we have no control over can cause physical health problems, such as hypertension and difficulties sleeping.  It also can lead to emotional health issues, such as anxiety and depression.

When we need to feel more in control, we can focus on those things that we can change. We may not be able to control the pandemic, but we can control whether or not to wear a mask, practice safe social distancing, or get vaccinated. 

We can control other aspects of our lives, such as whom we choose to spend our time with and how we choose to spend our time.  We are able to control how we choose to think about, or perceive, an event or another person, and we can control how we respond and react in any given moment or situation.  We may feel powerless, or even out of control, at times, but we do have control of ourselves.

When we choose to see each day as a new opportunity or a gift, our perceptions about our challenges shift. When we allow ourselves to feel the hurt, anger, and sorrow of  events, such as death, divorce, illness, or job loss, without trying to sugarcoat them or avoid them altogether, we are able to be more present and focus on what we have and what we can change. 

As we navigate our emotional responses, we continue to build resilience and choose the next best steps.  We can seek out the things we can control, like choosing to hold space for joy and gratitude, no matter how small the space may be, alongside our pain.  The here and now is all any of us have, for the past is gone, and the future has not yet happened.

By accepting that we cannot change everything, we can become more committed to changing the things that we do have control over in our lives. This frees us from the negative thoughts and emotions that waste our valuable time and energy on the things that are not in our control.  That freedom is well within our reach, but first, we have to let go of what is not. 

That’s another story. . .

Categories: That's Another Story

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