In the past few weeks, as we try to adjust to “new normals,” many clients have expressed wanting to reclaim control in their lives in these uncertain times.
Many have said: “I don’t like change” and “I am feeling uncomfortable with so much uncertainty and a lack of control.” There have also been many questions about “when will things go back to normal?” which had me thinking about why so many of us crave control and a sense of certainty in our lives.
Life is full of constant change
I say it often, because it is true: Life is full of constant change. And it is this very change that drives us to find some kind of predictability and stability whenever we can. Call it “routine” or “habits,” but both are ways we find some control.
No one could have predicted the lack of control this year. Never would we have imagined the amount of change that the world has experienced as a whole. Our “new normals” are shifting each week as things around us constantly change. So how do we cope and reclaim some control?
For me, I often start by revisiting the inspiring words from theologian Reinhold Neibuhr’s “The Serenity Prayer”:
“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.”
The key part of this quote is the “wisdom to know the difference.”
When we can understand the difference between what is within our control—and what is not—we can begin to figure out what is worth worrying about and where to put our energy and attention. We must start by identifying the things we cannot change or predict in order to find some sense of control in the small routines and things that we can do today.
If the last several weeks have taught us anything, it is that planning for the long term is not possible or very useful at the moment. Instead, our focus should be on what is within our control. Let’s start with:
Our reactions, and
Our small actions
Like many of you, I am disappointed that I can’t control who I see, travel wherever I want to go, and enjoy many of the activities I used to. Instead, I work hard on managing my perspective, controlling my reactions and focusing on small actions.
Take control of small decisions
Each day, I am in control of my decision to sit outside to work and enjoy the weather. I control my choice to invest money in a house project that my family can work on together. I control how open I am to adapting each week to the changes that come my way. I control my acceptance of the uncomfortable feelings that come with so much uncertainty. I control my choice to put more emphasis on what I can be grateful for every day.
Life is unpredictable and a lack of control is uncomfortable and scary, but we all possess the wisdom to be able to put our attention and efforts on the things we do control.
This week, look closely at what is within your control:
- What routine do you want to put in place?
- What actions will help you feel more in control?
- What change in perspective can help you?
- What small actions related to your time and money will help you feel more present and grounded?
- How you apply these things to reclaim control in these uncertain times?
As always, I am here to explore these questions with you, if you’d like my help.
Until then, keep safe and healthy.