Take a minute and quickly list 5 things you are in complete control of in your life. No, really – just do it. What comes to mind?
My job – are you in control of how much money you make? who you work with? the amount of time you spend working? whether or not you work there?
My time – did you control what time you got up this morning? how much time you spent in traffic? whether or not you took time to brush your teeth?
My family – are you in control of the choices your children make? how about your spouse’s actions? your parents, siblings or in-laws’ behavior?
The reason I am asking you to list things over which you have complete control is to help you see that VERY LITTLE is really under your control. This is actually GOOD news! Why? Because you are not responsible for things over which you have no control. Did you know that? It makes sense when you think about it. You can only be held responsible for things over which you have control.
Why do we spend so much time worrying about things over which we don’t have control?
Action step: You can reduce your stress significantly by asking yourself this question whenever you find yourself worrying or thinking about something over and over: What do I actually have control over in this situation? Then focus on the choices YOU can make – the ones you have control over. The rest of it – let it GO! Worrying saps your mental and emotional strength. Focusing on what you CAN control is empowering and gives you peace.
Here are some things you can control:
- how you use your free time
- what you allow your mind to focus on
- how you respond to others
- the words that come out of your mouth
- your attitude (yes, that’s a choice, believe it or not)
- your values and how that drives your behavior
Many of my clients experience a significant shift in their level of stress when they practice this little exercise regularly. Stop and assess each situation and then choose to put your energy where it can best be used – on YOU.