How To Control Your Controllable’s
I was the other day in a local coffee shop and sat at the table next to me were three elderly adults who were involved in a very deep conversation. They were openly discussing with much disdain and anger current events in the world. Events that were clearly beyond their control or personal influence.
The conversation topics included the economy, immigration, terrorism and how the government was making a complete mess of everything. This was resulting in theirs and others lives being badly affected. The world was in fact going down the toilet. However things would be a lot better for them and the country as a whole if everybody did what they were suggesting they should do. Instead of listening to all these politicians and economists.
Having listened further to their multitude of opinions and suggested solutions to these world issues. I wondered if any of them were in the least capable of solving the problems in their own communities never mind those on a global scale. However I managed to catch my thinking and reminded myself that everyone is entitled to their opinion no matter how extreme it may be.
So what really struck me about this encounter?
Firstly, how the conversations were affecting each other’s mood. They were emotionally dragging each other down as each topic of conversation became more toxic. As the saying goes “Misery loves company and it will find it” was well in operation here with my three fellow coffee drinkers.
Secondly now I know it is a national pastime in the UK to bitch and moan about life. Although generally this is usually done in a very light-hearted way. However, this coffee shop conversation was nothing like this. It was an absolvement of all personal responsibility for their current life situations. All their woes and troubles in life were the fault of others or some outside agency and nothing to do with them.
It got me thinking about how much time we probably all at times spend focusing on things that we really cannot control. When to lead more purposeful, rewarding and peaceful lives most of our attention really should be focused on the areas of our lives that we can control.
Circle of control
Here is an example of what you really can control in our life
I want you to imagine a mental picture of the following three balls.
They are a golf ball, a tennis ball and a large beach ball.
Now in your imagination fit the golf ball inside the tennis ball and then fit the tennis ball (containing the golf ball) inside the large beach ball.
These three balls now represent the circle of control.
The golf ball signifies the area that you personally can probably have control over
The relatively small space left in the tennis ball signifies what you can possibly influence
The very large space left in the beach ball by the other two balls signifies the area that you cannot control.
“In which ball/area do you regularly spend most of your precious attention?”
“Are you like a great many people who spend a great deal of their time and attention focusing in the areas they cannot control?”
So, what are some of the things we can personally control?
The list could include the following. Your Self talk, Attitude, Commitment, Effort, what you eat, what you buy, Your Job, etc.
And some of the things we cannot personally control are;
The weather, natural disasters, the economy, wars, terrorism, the government, the sex lives of celebrities and importantly what other people really think about us! The latter is an area that consumes a lot of focus and attention for a great many people
“What you think of me is none of my business” Wayne Dyer
So, just where are you focusing your precious attention?
Please spend 5 minutes on each of the following three questions and write down your answers.
“What are the things in my life that I can control?” Be specific!
“In what areas of my life can I cannot control things. However I can possibly influence them?”
“What are the things and areas in my life that I focus on regularly that I actually have no control over?”
What did this short exercise show you about where you are regularly focusing your attention?
If you really are spending a large part of your attention focusing on areas that you can control, then please keep doing this.
If you are not and are really spending large parts of your mental energy in focusing in the areas that you cannot control. Then perhaps it is time to switch your focus to the areas you can control. You now should have a list of these. So please pay attention to them.
Bear in mind that proactive people focus a lot of their time and energy on what they can control.
Reactive people waste a lot of their precious time reacting to issues that they cannot control.
It may also help, if you commit to memorising this well-known saying used by many sports coaches in particular to help their athletes keep their focus at times of peak competition.
“Control your controllable’s”