Things will always happen outside our control… it can be so frustrating… regain control by pausing & choosing your response.
I’ve personally had a big lesson in this lately, with the arrival of our new puppy Bonnie. Sh*t has quite literally been happening – and not always when and where we want it to!
But, whenever Bonnie leaves us a little parcel on the nice rug, rather than outside or even a puppy pad, it’s a good opportunity to practise pausing and responding, rather than just reacting with anger or frustration.
The technique of pausing and responding is particularly helpful if you have a tendency to over-think or have developed another unhelpful thinking habit.
If you find yourself over-thinking or getting stressed about something, I’d invite you to recognise what’s happening and be your own best friend.
And by that I mean, daring to press pause. Take a moment to step back from how you’re reacting, think about whether this is something within your control, and consider how to respond in a way that’s healthy for you. Buying yourself that little bit of time gives perspective and much more of a feeling of choice & control. Boom! It’s a game-changer.
Circles of control, influence and concern
But how do you know what’s within your control and how can you change those that are? Stephen Covey created a helpful model called the circles of control, influence and concern model.
At the centre is the circle of control, which are things that we have direct control over, such as our thoughts, our behaviour, who we spend our time with and where we meet up with people.
Those last two points are particularly important as we start emerging from the lockdown and begin meeting up with friends and family again. Read more top tips about that in this blog.
The middle circle is the circle of influence, which are things that we don’t control but we can influence through our own behaviour and actions. For example, other people’s actions.
The outer circle is the circle of concern, which are things that we have no control over. These include news headlines, social media, the weather etc.
Choose a different response
While we can’t control these things, they can have a huge impact on the way we feel and our experience of life. The good news is that although we can’t control them, we can control our response to them.
For example, while we can’t change the news headlines or posts and comments on social media, we can change how often we look at those sites.
We can’t change the fact that it might be raining, but that doesn’t mean we have to cancel any outside plans and stay indoors. The weather is bad? So what, let’s pull on our Goretex & wellies – get out there anyway!
Take a moment and ask yourself: What really stresses me out? Is it under my control? How can I change my response to that stimulus?
Potentially stressful vs inherently stressful
In the emergency services, there’s been a change of lingo recently where ‘traumatic incidents’ are now referred to as ‘potentially traumatic incidents.’
I think this is something that can apply in everyday life too. Certain events aren’t necessarily stressful, but they have the potential to be. And it’s up to us to make that choice about how we let it affect us & how we respond.
This is not a case of saying ‘Sh*t happens, man up – get on with it’. It’s a case of ‘Sh*t happens and that’s OK. I can’t control that, but I can focus on what I can control.’ Learning to surf the wave of what is happening outside your control is another game-changer. Try it – stay flexible and enjoy the ride… See, already you’re seeing things differently.
And that is really empowering. Giving some control back to you.
Feeling better, sleeping better, living better, enjoying relationships, having fun. Giving some control back to you. Giving you more balance & moving closer to what you want out of life, more days than before.
Baby steps. Keep it simple. Moments of joy. More balance. One day at a time.
After all, sh*t is always going to happen, that’s life. Knowing we have the power to respond in a different way by looking at the bigger picture or through a different lens – that is power, that is control. Try it & feel yourself relaxing, de-stressing, having capacity and energy to focus on what’s important to you.
Sh*t is certainly going to keep happening in my life as we continue Bonnie’s toilet training, but the big picture is it’s happening outside more and more. She brings us a lot of joy and we are learning together on this journey called life. Nothing lasts forever & that’s what I focus on.
Be yourself (stay wonky) & go well – from me, and Bonnie!
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