Sometimes I feel that I am not in control of much in my life. I sacrifice a lot for my children but seem to often be seen as an ‘annoying bother’; I work hard but don’t seem to create the income that matches it; my calendar mostly depends on others and a good part of the leisure time I have, tends to be hijacked by my obsession with the news. This is not a unique story. This might be your story with different details. Most people I know feel this way. There are always parts of our life that are difficult to control and we are so weakened by the stress it creates that we let the parts that we could control be taken over by others/other things.
Sometimes it feels like we are being expropriated from our own life.
I want my life back! I want all the control I can have, back! NOW!
Four steps to regain control of your life
- Get angry! When we move from helplessness to anger, we step on the path we were seeking and could not see. Are you angry enough? Amp it up by writing a list of things you are fed up with at the moment (things that frustrate you, things you feel guilty for not having done, things that keep you up at night, things you have had enough of). That should get you going…I want you to get angry because anger usually leads to action whereas feeling helpless, stressed, overwhelmed, not in control, keeps you stuck in inertia. Action, any action, then tends to lead to more action, so you regain control of your life.
- Get clear! The list you wrote previously is the best tool you have to define your path. Each item on the list suggests an action or series of actions that need to be taken.
- Prioritise! From your list of actions, you now need to identify what is creating the most bother or stress in your life and act on those first. Establish a rough plan to tackle each item over the next few months.
- Calendarize! Schedule when you will take your first and next actions and write them down. This is critical if you want them to happen. I know if it is not written, I will not remember it, however important it is because life is just so busy.
Caveat: You might not have control over some items and in this case, it is essential to let go of the frustration that cannot be controlled. This is the only way to find peace of mind. One little handwritten note left by my grandfather is the prayer: God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
To be sure though, question how little or how much control you have in any situation. You might not be able to change a situation, but you can change the way you perceive it and respond to it. We all know this quote from Viktor Frankl but now is a critical moment to implement it:
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.