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Control And The Uncontrollable

Written by: Patricia Faust, MGS, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

When I was researching this article, I came across a couple of article titles that I pulled: “Don’t Try and Control the Uncontrollable” and “How to Control the Uncontrollable”. The perspectives in each article were a little different but the information was remarkably similar. As our world is increasingly changing the status quo we are constantly facing our battles. The uncertainty of what will happen next is tying us up in knots. Let’s see what we can unravel.

Don’t Try and Control the Uncontrollable


Let’s start with this perspective first.


How much time do you spend worrying or getting stressed over things you have no control over? It is easy to get trapped in this worry cycle. But it can stop you from focusing on areas that you do have some control.

  1. Understand what is within and outside of your control. By determining what is within and outside of your control, you can start to move forward in a more positive way.

  2. Accept that you cannot control the uncontrollable. By accepting the things that you have little or no control over, you will be surprised how quickly you start to feel more in control. You can choose how you think about these things and spend less time worrying about them and have more time to focus on the areas you can control.

  3. Change your reaction to things that you have little or no control over. Now that you understand the things you can’t control, you can change your reaction to them. You are giving your brain a break and allowing it not to shoot off into a threat response. It is good to have a quiet brain.

  4. Focus on the areas that are within your control. Once you have identified the areas you have control over – you can focus on them.

  5. Set goals for the areas within your control You have reduced your distraction and are able to concentrate on how you want to pursue the areas you have control. understanding what you want to achieve, you will be more likely to get there.

  6. Plan the action you are going to take. Plan on how you are going to achieve your goals. This plan will keep you focused on the outcomes.

  7. Act on the things you can control. By focusing on the areas, you can control, you will start to feel much more control in moving forward. You will also find that you will have more time for this work because you are not worrying about all the areas you don’t have control over.

  8. Share with others. Often it is difficult to see for yourself that you are getting worried about something that is out of your control. You might feel anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed. At that point it is helpful to talk with someone else about it. Try talking to someone who is impartial and can give you a fresh perspective.

  9. Remember that you have a choice. Always remember that you have a choice about how you think and feel about things, as well as how you react to them.


How to Control the Uncontrollable


The World Health Organization officially declared that the pandemic is over. For many of us, this was the first time we have ever experienced a complete lack of control over our lives. It has taken a toll on our mental health. Even before COVID, mental health issues were a massive drain on the world economy, costing $1 trillion a year in lost productivity. Although the pandemic is in our rearview mirror, the world situation has not changed significantly. We continue to struggle through many uncontrolled events nationally and internationally. Our 24/7 news cycle brings all this turmoil directly to us and leaves our brains in a continual state of threat. It is imperative that we learn how to filter what we need to know and then understand how to control the uncontrollable.


1. Understand that you could be suffering from and not knowing what it is doing to you.

If you experience any of the following, a lack of control could be impacting your personally.

  • A need to gossip and find out what everyone else is thinking

  • Reduced productivity at work or at home (or both)

  • Unable to drop the subject or walk away from a discussion/argument

  • Overworking and burnout

  • Micromanagement

  • Illness – physical and mental

  • Exhaustion

  • A feeling of Them and Us mentality –“People don’t get it!”

  • Defeatism

  • Lack of Creativity

  • A lack of interest in hobbies and chores

  • Feeling angry and resentful

  • Stress

These are just some of the things that a lack of control can do to you.

2. Ask yourself: Is it really true?


Start with you and what you think. The way you see the world, shapes your world. If you feel like you have no control, that is the way the world will be. Look around you, everything you see started as a thought in a human’s head. That screen you look at, the shape, color, design were conscious decisions people made. It’s hard to see the connection between what we think and what we get. We cannot magically make the issue disappear, but we control how we feel about it. You do not need to know how you do this, but acknowledging how you see the world and what it does to you physically, emotionally, and mentally, you can then decide “I’d like something better than this!”


3. Create a mental health tool kit


Perhaps you have heard of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. In DBT you learn the first thing to do when things are too much for you is to R.E.S.T. – rest, evaluate, set an intention, and act. You can practice this technique by working on something that stops you in your tracks. Find something to help you stop thinking – listening to a song, playing hide and seek with the dog, meditate, or something else. Anything works that stops your brain from continually thinking.


4. Challenge what you know to be true


You need to challenge what you believe to be true. Statements like:

  • I must work that many hours to get it all done.

  • Everyone is stressed out, there’s nothing that we can do about it.

  • It will be better when the pandemic is over – we’ve just got to put up with it.

These are signs that you need to challenge what you believe. You don’t stop the Sun from rising, why? Because you know it to be out of your control. Do you try to get out of the way of a stampeding bull. Yes, but why? Because you believe you have control.

These are obvious examples, but it is not always obvious. In life, the statements that take away your control are likely to be more subtle and are the statement that no one pays attention to.


5. Remind yourself that there is another way


To change what you get you must change what you think. What do you need to believe?


This is called reframing. It is the ability to find the potential in the harshest of situations. It takes practice but if you persevere, you can find something good in anything and it will help you have more control of your thoughts. More control of your thoughts leads to better thoughts and better actions and results.

  • I miss going out – becomes – I’ve saved so much money

  • I miss working in the office – becomes – I don’t miss that commute and I adore having hugs from the children/partner/dog/cat in between meetings

  • I feel isolated – becomes – I am learning to appreciate my own company and the person I am

At this stage, you don’t need to believe it is true, you just need to be able to reword your thoughts.


6. Turn your brain around


Remember that you create solutions to the way you think and what actions you will take, your brain is going to prove you right regardless.


The disadvantage of this is it stops you from finding new better ways of working since your brain wants to keep you safe – believing you’ve done all you can and there is nothing more that can be done.


A great example of this in action was someone struggling with working from home. Working longer hours, they were exhausted and felt like quitting. Eating poorly and helping the children with their homework was the final straw. They felt like they had no life and couldn’t see it changing. They held on firmly to the belief that they had to wait for the pandemic to go to have their life back. This took all their control away and ensured they would be stuck for an exceedingly long time.


What madness to think you need to do it all? They started asking for help and getting the family involved. And now they work a lot less hours and even manage to stay awake in the evenings to watch a film or read a book.


The Bottom Line


Remember that nothing stays the same. This golden nugget is essential knowledge we all need when we lack control. Good or bad, everything changes.


(Mandie Holgate. How to Control the Uncontrollable in Life)


For more info, follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and visit my website!


 

Patricia Faust, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Patricia Faust is a gerontologist specializing in the issues of brain aging, brain health, brain function, and dementia. She has a Master in Gerontological Studies degree from Miami University in Oxford Ohio. Patricia is certified as a brain health coach and received a certification in Neuroscience and Wellness through Dr. Sarah McKay and the Neuroscience Academy.


My Boomer Brain, founded in 2015, is the vehicle that Patricia utilizes to teach, coach, and consult about brain aging, brain health, and brain function. Her newsletter, My Boomer Brain, has international readers from South Africa, Australia, throughout Europe, and Canada.


Patricia’s speaking experience spans the spectrum of audiences as she addresses corporate executives on brain function, regional financial professionals on client diminished capacity, and various senior venues concerning issues around brain aging and brain health.

 

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