You Are in Control of Your Life

You Are in Control of Your Life

Does it ever feel like you’re being swept along by life, powerless to implement any positive changes?

We often use phrases like “oh, that’s just life” or “life isn’t fair” – and while these can sometimes help us accept daily ups and downs, they also give the impression that life isn’t really under our control.

The truth is that you probably have more control (and at least more influence) than you think.

What Areas Are Already Under Your Control?

Some parts of your life are already under your full (or near-full) control. Think about:

  • Your diet – healthy or unhealthy
  • The time you choose to go to bed
  • How much exercise you do – or don’t do

Yes, there’ll be external influences on some of these. Perhaps, for instance, you tell yourself that the reason you don’t eat well is because there’s nowhere near your workplace to buy a healthy lunch – so you end up at McDonald’s again.

But you always have options. In that situation, you could make a healthy lunch at home and take it to work, or even get together with colleagues to ask for better options in the work canteen – or simply to bring in fruit to share each day.

Don’t abdicate control. If you find yourself making excuses – “I’d love to eat healthier / get to bed earlier / do more exercise, but I can’t because…” – then spend some time looking at your options. You almost certainly have more power over your life than you realize.

Do it: Think of one area where you’ve been making excuses, and write down three ways in which you can put yourself back in control.

What Areas Can You At Least Influence?

Even if you don’t have full control over a particular aspect of your life, you have someinfluence.

At work, for instance, it’s very unlikely that you have control over how much you’re paid (unless you work for yourself). But you do have influence. If you want a raise, you can ask for one. You might choose not to – perhaps because you’re afraid you’ve not done enough to prove your worth, or because you’re shy of even asking – but you do have that option.

It’s the same in your home life. If you live with other people – family, or housemates – then you don’t have full control over your home environment. You can, however, exert your influence. If the untidiness of your house is driving you crazy, you can set new rules for your kids about keeping the place tidy. (If your partner’s the culprit, talk to them – they may not have any idea how much the state of the house is bothering you.)

Do it: Write down one or two problem areas in your life, where you don’t have full control. Brainstorm some ideas for influencing those situations for the better.

What Areas Are You Powerless Over?

When you really look hard at what’s going on at work and home, there’s a good chance you’ll find that you’re in control of – or at least have influence over – the majority of your life.

There will, however, be a few aspects that you simply don’t have any power to control or influence. The weather, for example, is an external factor that you can’t do anything about: if it rains on the Saturday when you planned to take the kids to the park, your plans get derailed.

What you cando about these uncontrollable aspects of life is to change your attitude to them. You have the choice whether to respond to the rain with anger and frustration, or with acceptance.

Do it: If there’s a persistent situation that bothers you on a regular basis, which you’re powerless over, then write down at least three ways to respond in a healthier, happier manner to it.

Is there a particular area of life where you’ve realized you do have control, or influence? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Photo by whatmegsaid

Ali Luke

Ali writes about personal growth and development on her blog, Aliventures. As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.

Latest posts by Ali Luke (see all)

14 Comments

  1. thanks for the post
    i think knowing what can be controlled and what really cant is extreemly important
    many people get stressed about things that they can’t really control

    Reply
    • I think it’s very hard *not* to stress a bit about things we can’t control … but it’s sometimes good to take a mental step back and look at what we can and can’t do about a given situation.

      Reply
  2. Hi Ali, you are absolutely right – we control far more than we realize. Stephen Covey said we control 90% of our lives by how we react to the 10% of life that happens. What you can do is create a gap between an event (the 10%) and how you react (the 90%) and in that gap ask yourself how you can react in a way that adds value to the lives of the people involved. By doing this, our reactions will serve you and help you to create a life that ou love….

    Kirsten
    http://www.coach4life.co.za/blog

    Reply
    • I really like that focus on the gap, Kirsten … it’s so easy to end up in a reactive mode where we just respond to things without taking a moment to think and consciously choose.

      Reply
  3. Ali, sigh. I know in my gut and heart that I control how I react to Every.Single.Thing that happens. And sometimes it’s the hardest thing in the world.

    Right now it’s choosing how to deal with a neighbor. I live above this man, and I work at home. And he—for valid reasons, I’m sure—is excessively vigilant and easily upset about noises.

    My commitment to Live and Let Live is getting pushed beyond tolerable limits. And I get to choose. And then I get to choose again.

    My commitment is to kindness. And the lack of boundaries in my face every day with this man is pushing me beyond tolerable limits. And it’s still my choice.

    I am in control of how I react, what I say, and how I act.

    Sometimes it’s so hard, though, isn’t it?

    Thanks for the space to let some of the pressure out…

    Love and light,
    Sue

    Reply
    • Sue, that sounds like a very trying situation — I know we’ve had a few moments of frustration with neighbours, and it can end up feeling like you’re powerless to change anything. Hope things get easier for you — I admire your commitment to kindness!

      Reply
  4. A very helpful post – many thanks.

    I think one of the key things is work out where we have control or influence or none. I bet that we often get it wrong and that a little reflection can help us chose a better response.

    And where we are powerless I beleive the most powerful response is to accept the situation for what it is.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Peter. I think it’s very easy (for me, at least!) to think “Oh, I can’t change X…” when really we have quite a bit of control or influence. Taking a bit of time to reflect on options often helps.

      Reply
  5. Universe, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot control,
    the courage to control the things I can,
    and the wisdom to know the difference.

    Sounds familiar, but bears repeating.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Dana! Wise words always bear repeating. :-)

      Reply
  6. Ali!

    Such an excellent post. I think so many get caught up in everything going on in life that we do forget we have control. That’s why I love writing and finding posts like this! It’s so nice to have that reminder and to take a step back and become aware of where we’re really at.

    Thank You SOOO Much!

    James
    http://www.facebook.com/lifesketch

    Reply
  7. Thanks a lot for the piece. It is worthy sharing. But Ali, I am of the view that, by nature, we do have control over every aspect of our life. And the 100% control that we have over our life is the choice (s) that we make in the event of any circumstance that confront us.

    To look at it from another angle, is that, in between the controllable and uncontrollable situations that we do face in life, lies our decision to choose how to react to that specific situation that we think we can control or can not control. You would agree with me that the decision to let go of a situation that one can not control, is also a CONTROL in itself, exercised by the victim of the situation. A victim of any situation takes decision, as to whether s/he can do something about the circumstance or he can not do anything about it. And that decision influences his/her reaction. That decision is a control.

    As such, you will agree with me that, at the end of the day, there is nothing in our lives that we can not control or we don’t have control over. We control everything eventually through the decisions we make to react to every situation that confront us. And the earlier we learn to moderate those decisions to the delight of our psychic, the better it is for us.

    Thanks very much for the space. Cheers!!

    Reply
  8. thanks so much for sharing this wonderful piece. Major change I want to make in life is in d area of interpersonal relationship. I used to be very shy but worked on myself. Now I find myself withdrawin again… Need to brainstorm 4real!!!

    Reply
  9. The three aspects in our lives is indeed within our control but personally, the concern on my health is still a work in progress for me.

    Thank you for reminding me through this post.

    Reply

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