Why you can’t control everything, and why that’s great news!

Why you can’t control everything

Why people worry

Everyone has worries and concerns; it’s part of what makes us human. But what if you could simply let those worries go, and focus on the things that are truly important in life? What if you had a way to guarantee that all of that energy you’re using isn’t going to be wasted, but instead is going to move you closer to the joy and happiness you seek? 

We all face challenges in our lives, and these can prompt us to take action. Or to do the opposite…


And that’s understandable, especially when you consider the kinds of challenges that we are often faced with. For example, what if you are suddenly told you have lost your job, a much-needed and important source of income? What if your partner has just announced they are leaving you? And taking the dog with them!? What if you have just been told that a very special friend or relative, has been taken seriously ill, or worse?
At times like these, you can feel vulnerable and powerless. Sometimes, you’d rather curl up in a ball, take the phone off the hook, and…cry. This is very important, of course. Crying provides a vital release from the stress of whatever it is we are trying to deal with, and I certainly wouldn’t advocate short-circuiting the grieving process – remaining resilient in the face of adversity begins with self-love, and with compassion and understanding for yourself. Whilst reaching out is important, you need to nurture yourself first. Not only is that not selfish, it’s essential and life-affirming.

You CAN help yourself

There will come a time, however, when if you are to maintain your sense of self-worth, you need to take action. But what should you do when you feel like you’ve been kicked full-force in the stomach, and when an overbearing sense of hopelessness is your constant companion?

The first thing to say is that there is ALWAYS hope. To act as if there isn’t turns you into a victim. It’s easy to fall into this victim mentality, particularly if it has become ingrained as a habit over the years. Too often, we allow the world, and the people in it, to act on us, and the trouble with that is that not everyone has our best interests at heart.

What you need to do instead is to become proactive so that you take on the role both of driver and navigator of your own journey through life. After all, you know better than anyone what is good for you, even if others would like to think otherwise. You may need to become introspective, to look deep inside yourself, but ultimately, you, and nobody else, have the answer.

Just let go

I am going to offer a small piece of advice here, and though I realise it may sound counterintuitive after reading the call to action above, it is sound advice, nevertheless.  However big the adversity, however deep the pain, and however sad you feel, go ahead and do everything that is in your power to do, then…

Let go!  

 Of course, letting go can feel scary, and that really isn’t surprising.  As human beings, we need to feel secure.  Until we are old enough to look after ourselves, we depend on our parents and older family members to keep us safe, warm and well-nourished.

But that doesn’t last forever, and when you say your first goodbye at the school gate, you also take a symbolic first step into a future which, hopefully, will be filled with love, joy and happiness.  There will, however, be some challenges along the way, and for some these challenges will be really tough and difficult to deal with.

So, to be clear, when I urge you to let go, I don’t mean stop trying or stop caring.  Simply do everything you can do, then let go of the outcome.  Worrying won’t help and will only make you feel more anxious; it’s a real waste of energy. You’ve done your best, and there’s nothing you can do to change things.  Resolve to waste no more time and move on.

Circles of Influence

Though it might not seem like it, knowing that we can’t control everything is actually a positive. I am reminded here of Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly-Effective People (see link below):


In this highly influential book, Covey devotes a chapter to his very useful model, ‘Circles of Influence and Circles of Concern’, a model I used a lot as a teacher, and which I still use to help my clients understand that in a life filled with challenges there are always options.

Picture for a moment two concentric circles, one inside the other. The outer circle is your circle of concern and represents all the things on which you waste energy, but which you can do nothing about. The inner circle is your circle of influence. Ensuring you operate within your circle of influence, and let go of those things you can’t change, means you can really start to make an impact.

The arrows in the diagram represent your circle of influence expanding outwards as you take the small actions that will ultimately lead to your goal.  The net effect of this is that your circle of concern shrinks as you become more proactive and stop worrying about things you can’t change.

Follow these steps to empower yourself

  1. Identify the things you are wasting energy worrying about and… STOP WORRYING!
  2. Instead, decide on a handful of small, targeted actions you can take and…DO THEM!
  3. Let go of the outcome.  
  4. As time goes by, keep working within your circle of influence, taking daily actions towards your goals.
  5. Enjoy the sense of achievement and empowerment you will undoubtedly feel when you do what you can before letting go.

Okay, you may not transform the education system, the health service, or your business overnight, but one day, if you focus on your circle of influence, you just might. Who knows?  You might even change the world! 😊

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