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How to gain control when nothing seems within your control

Apr 26, 2021

A change is gonna come

This past week I have been waiting on some news which either way, will change the path for a member of my family. It’s all a bit sliding doors and we’re not sure if the right decision has been made, only time will tell. We hope we’ve made the right choice, adopting the right mindset will also help the onwards journey.  

At this point, I would like to make clear it’s not a medical diagnosis – I wouldn’t want that thought in someone’s head. It’s a decision we have made to change the course of events because we feel the current situation is not serving them well. I am not going to divulge details because it’s not my story to tell and I could say it’s a ‘friend’ but I do that enough to mask stories at various times. And now that will leave you all guessing as to which are genuinely about friends, and which are about me and my family…!

Anyhoo, to make the change, we need to set the wheels in motion and seek permission from the relevant authority and agencies to make it happen. I have been on tenterhooks, checked my phone more times than I should for my own sanity, and checked emails too, hoping we’ve been given the go ahead. I think it’s fair to say, I’ve been bordering on obsessive and perhaps as a result, have not been entirely 100% focused on other areas of my life. I like to know what’s happening and when – the ‘unknown’ doesn’t sit well with me. (Most excellent self-talk there Kirsty, and perhaps a narrative that needs to be challenged…)

Kick up the proverbial

I eventually jolted myself into touch and became consciously aware that my behaviour was having no effect on the outcome whatsoever. What it was doing was making me far less productive and I was instead allowing my thoughts to take me down rabbit holes, up cul-de-sacs and far too much navel-gazing than is good for me.

There’s nothing I can do to influence whether the choice we have made will be sanctioned by those that need to sanction it. Nothing. We have applied for the change, stated our reasons why, with a well-thought out and intentional statement, and now we sit and wait. Yes, we can appeal if we are not granted the request but until that point, there is nothing we can do.

In the meantime, what do we do? Well, we go about our everyday life because there is nothing else we can do to influence the outcome nor to move things forward.

So, how come my husband can do all the ‘normal’ day-to-day stuff, yet the thoughts in my head resemble the tiny rubber ball being knocked around squash court walls? How come he can function ‘normally’, but I am unable to concentrate on anything, checking my phone like a mad woman, even though it’s after hours, so I know I won’t hear back from anyone.

It’s because my husband thinks differently to me. He takes life as it comes and deals with things as when they need dealing with. He’s chilled, laid back, cool, calm and collected. I however, like to feel in control, that I am in charge of my destiny and yet, as I so often say, there is not much we can control in life – I cannot control my hair on a daily basis – especially as it hasn’t been near a pair of scissors for six months! The one thing I can control though is the nature of my thoughts. And that’s the bit which is a work in progress, for us all.

Thinking to create our results

I quote The Serenity Prayer regularly because it so aptly captures mindset work:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

What can I change in this situation? Nothing. I have done my bit. Maybe I can do something about changing the result, if the decision doesn’t go our way but if I can’t, it’s knowing that and intelligently navigating my way around the outcome.

For now, it’s about accepting there’s nothing I can do and rather than waste time, thought and energy on this, I could be focusing on something else that I can take action on.

For that’s what we do don’t we? We fret and worry, or get angry and frustrated, or disappointed and upset about things which we can do nothing about, things we can in no way change. Perhaps global events, another person’s words or actions, or decisions made beyond our field of knowledge, experience or influence.

It’s not about accepting our fate, or lowering our standards, because we can fight the good fight; it’s recognising the point where we can do no more.

So, what can we do to help ourselves when we’re perpetuating a thought pattern that isn’t serving us well?

On the Winning Edge Programme, the foundation of our mindset teachings is the Thinking to Results model – we explain how what we think about, we become; we create our results and circumstances in life because of the nature of our thoughts. If we constantly have thoughts whereby we believe we’re not capable of achieving great things in life – that we’re not clever enough, we don’t have the right connections, nor the skills, knowledge or ability to apply for jobs, or to start our own business, well what are the chances we’re likely to go for it? Pretty slim. However, if our thoughts centre on believing we have the confidence to learn new skills, we’re able to network and meet new people, then we will give it a whirl and apply for new positions, or start that exciting new business, we stack the cards in our favour. Does this mindset 100% guarantee success? No. But it does mean we are much better placed to create our own luck, spot the opportunities and also, to keep at it even if things don’t work the first time.

What you can do with the Thinking to Results model is not only think long-term by addressing your thoughts and how these influence your emotions, thus behaviours and the habits you practice every single day, but you can also use it to change a thought pattern that isn’t serving you well in the here and now. You can flip the narrative when you feel like that squash ball is being pinged off the walls.

In my situation, I was fretting about hearing back on a decision which was going to change things in a major way. I couldn’t change the outcome and I was wasting time and energy. I consciously caught myself doing it, recognised it and knew the nature of my thinking needed to change to break this cycle. My current circumstance – I am waiting for a phone call/email. My current thought – I need to know now what the decision is going to be. My current emotions – anxiety and worry. My current behaviour – checking my phone, checking emails, procrastinating on getting on with anything else.

Same circumstance – I am waiting for a phone call/email. My current thought to create – I am calm. New emotions I would feel to create the circumstance – feeling calm, composed, quiet and productive. New behaviours I would do in this circumstance – plan this week’s Mindset Blog, look at past blogs and what subjects have been popular, mind map ideas for the blog.

I repeat this thought to myself. I work on creating those emotions and my behaviour changes. When the squash ball reappears, I leave the squash court. I am not playing that game anymore. It does not serve me well. I am creating different results for myself. I am taking responsibility for my thoughts. I am taking back control.

Mind control

When we consciously decide what result we want to create for ourselves, we are firmly in the driver’s seat. We are the ones who allow the thoughts in our head and if those thoughts are holding us back and stopping us from moving forwards, we need to recognise that and regain the control.

What result would you like to create for yourself? What are your current thoughts which are hindering this? How can you reframe them to flip the narrative to work towards your desired result? Think about what kind of thoughts someone might be having if they were creating the results you want. What emotions might they be feeling, and what would their behaviour be to achieve that result?  

When you are in a situation where you feel helpless and cannot alter the course of events, think about what you can control – the nature of your thoughts. This is a powerful position to be in because you get to choose the direction your story takes from that point.

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Would you like help getting your mindset in check?

Do you feel like your brain runs you, rather than you run your brain? Would you like to feel more in control of the nature of your thoughts, to take your life in the direction you want to take it?

The Mindset Coaching Membership can help you understand the tools and strategies needed. With Masterclass Teachings + Coaching + Accountability, we will help you to create the future you want. Find out more here.

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