Think about what stresses you out; what really gets the blood pumping. What is it?
Your job? Your family? Your spouse? Your favorite baseball team blowing it in the bottom of the 9th? Someone responding ‘K’ after you texted them a novel?
No matter who you are, stress will find you. What I’m here to tell you is that there is a path to stress-free living if you’re willing to navigate it.
This path is centered around the understanding of three concepts: Control, No Control, and Influence. If you can make honest sense of these concepts in your life, you will have a new outlook that truly frees you of the stress that drags you down day after day.
Let’s go in order…
To put it simply, the only thing, person or object that you have strict control over is YOU. First, your actions. No one can control your actions but you. They might be able to influence (which we’ll get to) your actions. When it comes down to it, though, only you can decide what to do or not to do. Secondly, your thoughts and feelings. There are innumerable good and bad events that will present themselves to you in life. The way you think about them or how you feel about them is entirely up to you. Just as someone can see failure as an opportunity to grow, another can see wonderful moments in a negative light. Your perspective, feelings, and actions are solely your responsibility. You have no reason to stress about anything that you can control. You can choose to take action to change a negative situation or choose to take a different perspective to see something in a more positive way. Want to lose weight? Start working out. Want more sleep? Go to bed earlier. Want to travel more? Travel more. See how easy that is? Think about those stressors you unearthed above. If there’s something that is in your control, take action!
Now for the polar opposite: having no control. This notion isn’t exactly hard to comprehend, I just feel like we as humans think we have more control than we actually do. There are some circumstances that come our way that pretty clearly are “no control” events: a natural disaster, a baseball team blowing it in the bottom of the 9th, or the result of a roulette spin at the casino. If there is something that is so clearly out of your control, but you’re still stressing about it, you need to check yourself. What can you do if there’s something that you do have control over? Take massive action and take care of business. What can you do if there is something that you don’t have control over? Take massive inaction. Stop devoting any energy towards your stress for that circumstance. You couldn’t do anything about it if you tried, so stop trying so hard to change that fact.
If there was no way to control it, why do you let it bother you? Because you feel that you have some control over those things. This is where there is some incredibly murky water when it comes to stress…
The nightmare of all stressors. When you feel like you have some form of control over something, but you’re confusing it for influence. The definition of influence is as follows:
the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.
Having an effect on something or someone is completely different from controlling it. With influence, you have the power to teach someone something, show them their wrongs or alter their perspective. What you don’t have is the control of the outcome. We all have an influence on certain people, situations, and events that surround us. What we don’t-or refuse to-see is that regardless of our input or our effect on these things, we STILL do not control the outcome. Having influence is a “no control” situation in disguise.
You could be the world’s best mother, but your kid could still turn out to be a jerk.
You could be the world’s best wife, but your husband might still take you for granted.
You can be the most prepared you’ve ever been to run a race, and there could still be someone faster.
You could be the world’s nicest guy, and there’s a chance that someone might take advantage of your kindness.
It’s so hard here. We have all of this work and evidence of overwhelming influence on a situation, but it still doesn’t go our way. “But I did this, this and this! It should work out for me!” It can be maddening, but at the end of the day, you have as much control in saving the world from an earthquake as you do in saving your kid from drug abuse. You have far more influence, but equal amounts of (no) control.
So what do we do? How can we allow this to NOT stress us out? Focus less on the output, and more on the input. Again, what can you control? You and only you.
Show up and be the best mom you can be. Chances are it will work out in your favor. If it’s not going well, just keep showing up and giving your best.
If you’re the nice guy, keep on keepin’ on. For every person that takes advantage, there will be 3-5 that truly appreciate who you are. You cannot let how a minority of people react to you affect how you behave for the majority of people. You are who you are. Keep being you.
It’s freeing once you own the input and care less about the output. For every influence we have in this world, we want it to turn out the right way. That goes without saying. All I’m suggesting is that if it doesn’t go the right way, know that you have given it your best. And be okay with that. Let the stress roll off your shoulders and breathe easy. You controlled what you could, let the universe decide the rest.
Now that you understand Control, No Control and
Influence No Control 2.0, I hope that the weight on your shoulders feels a little lighter. You got this.