Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
Speaking Information at (727) 467-0202 or e-mail

Feeling in control when you’re feeling helpless

These are out-of-control times, and that’s unsettling to people who like to feel they have control. I was especially touched by a woman in my audience this week who asked for my advice, and this is for her. And you.

A lot of people feel a real need for control, but life is essentially an out-of-control experience. What I’ve learned is: The things you can control give you power over the things you can’t.

You can’t control events or other people, you can’t control the economy or the outcome of a game or the weather. You can do everything possible to take care of your health, but still get sick. You can have all the talent in the world and work harder and stronger and faster than everyone around you, but still lose your job. You can be the best spouse in the world, and still get left.

Life presents you with endless opportunities for heartache, loss and anger, and your initial reaction will probably be a natural, knee-jerk emotion that is both honest and justified. But you always have the power to step out of a situation and make the calculated decision to take power over your emotions. That option is always, always, always there, no matter how badly you feel.

At some point, you have to move beyond the emotions that amplify victimization or self-blame. You may have made bad decisions, you may have made mistakes, acted too quickly or not quickly enough, you may have chosen the wrong friends or lovers or spouses, you may have taken shortcuts with your children, you may have been to selfish or too selfless – you can analyze and overanalyze any situation ad nausea. You can count and recount all of your regrets, live and relive your guilt, and cry rivers over your disappointment.

It’s not easy to let go of victimization because, on some level, you get something out of it. Sometimes, you get sympathy, sometimes you get grief, sometimes you get disparagement, sometimes you get something else which either fuels your self-loathing or gives you an excuse not to take responsibility for where you are or take action to make things better. Sometimes your victimization will get you  a lot of attention, but that doesn’t do much to help you heal.

That doesn’t mean you deny your truth. You can acknowledge, analyze and share what has happened, and probably should. That’s all part of conscious healing. But, there comes a point when you have to make a choice to take your power or be consumed by your lack of it. You can stay frozen in your despair or you can deal with it and move on.

More tomorrow.

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