Control vs. No Control

There can be many stresses that come up for us and, without realizing it, we may spend a large amount of time worrying about what we have zero control over.

It can be very helpful to identify stresses in our lives, then see how many we can identify as something that we do have control over and something we do not. Here is an example:

Things I have control over

  • What time I wake up in the morning
  • Whether or not have a conversation with my roommates about being loud
  • Whether or not I use my favorite self care skills, like meditation or exercise

Things I do not have control over

  • If I wake up early because there was a loud noise outside
  • Whether or not my roommates decide to continue to be loud
  • If my gym is closed or I can't run outside because it is raining

Once you identify what you do have control over and what you do not, you may choose to focus on those things that you can control. Here is an example:

  • You CAN control how you approach your roommates about being louder than you would like. You control your tone, how you ask them, your body language, and the general manner that you present your request. 
  • You CANNOT control how they will respond. They may apologize. They may say you are overreacting. They may decide to come to an agreement on what to do next. However, this is their choice and you do not control it.  

In this situation, you can focus on how you would set up the conversation with your roommate in a way that would have the best chance of being a success. You will not control their reaction. 

For the stressors that you do have control over:

  • Address the issues as needed
  • Make potential changes to lessen the stressors
  • Adjust your behavior or your thought process about the stressors as needed

For the stressors that you do not have control over:

  • Accept the fact that the stressor exists (this does not mean you need to approve of it)
  • Acknowledge that you do not control the situation(s)
  • Use other coping skills to cope with distress 

Breaking stressors down into these areas can help you feel like you have more control over your life, especially when you have a lot going on.