Control is a word that has been coming up frequently over the past two years. At the heart of the conversation is the sentiment, focus only on what you can control.
The famous Stoic Epictetus said this: “The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters, so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.”
You can google this philosophy and get a plethora of quotes and articles about it. This is not a new concept. Scholars and philosophers have been teaching this concept since the Stoics in Greece over 2300 years ago.
Know what you control and what you don’t. To get us started, here’s a list of some things that you don’t control: the weather, what markets do, what governments do, what other people think, what other people say, your spouse/partner, your kids.
Here’s what we do have control over: our thoughts, emotions, action in response to the things we cannot control.
When we focus on things that we cannot control and allow them to negatively influence our thoughts & emotions, we give our power away. Usually, when we give our power away, we begin to feel discouraged, which leads to many other not so helpful thoughts & feelings about ourselves.
Also, when we seek to control events & people that are outside our span of control, frustration sets in. Anger, resentment and other conflict thoughts & emotions usually accompany our attempts to control what we cannot.
Do not misconstrue this philosophy to be passive. This focus does not allow people to walk over you or not stand up for what you believe in. On the contrary, the way to maintain control of your mental & emotional response is to create and enforce personal boundaries. If someone or something encroaches on your boundaries, you have the ability to stand up for yourself. The trick is to maintain emotional neutrality as you do.
This week, external situations have challenged many of us, just as the pandemic has issued challenges over the past two years. I trust I’ve built up enough rapport to be direct. Dear reader, you don’t have control over what happens. No amount of cable news watching or article reading will give you control. What you have control over is your reaction. You can stand in support, you can donate money, you can call a loved one, you can express gratitude for your living situation. And you can do all that without a negative emotional slant of discouragement or frustration. You can stand, in full power, and respond through your actions.
When you remain in control of your thoughts, emotions & actions, and while not forcing your’s onto others, you’ll stay in a powerful position. And that, organically, will flow into your business, your home, the people you lead, the people you follow and be a catalyst for amazing accomplishment for yourself.
Focus on what you can control.