• Bobby Dye

Control what you can control

In life, there are many unique variables simultaneously taking place at any given time. Therefore, it’s nearly impossible to control everything.

Mindful


Managing anything in life starts with your mindfulness of what you can and cannot control. Recently, my girlfriend and I got into an argument because of how she handled something negative, from her past, showing up on Facebook. Ahh, social media, the great equalizer in the stability of relationships, if you let it be. Then again, if you allow social media to affect your partnership, you’re most likely in an immature relationship, and one or both parties have some growing up to do and perspective to gain, but I digress.


My girlfriend ended up handling the situation on her own but didn’t end up telling me until months later. While I was proud that she took care of it as she should, I was disappointed that she didn’t tell me about it immediately. Because the other half of the battle was telling me that it happened, when it happened. It’s best if you always communicate with your significant other, always. If anything, over-communicate. It brings to mind the saying my girlfriend and I constantly tell each other in situations like this,


“I’d always rather know than not know.”

Because if there isn't complete communication between two people in a relationship, doubt can start to creep in, and the party who is not frequently filled in can begin to feel left in the dark. In our situation, this is how I felt. Honestly, I felt more alone because we often communicate well, and it’s not typical for her to drop the ball in that regard. The point is, she couldn’t control something showing up on social media, but she could control what she did from that point forward.


Tangible


When it comes to controlling what you can control, the objective is to reach for something tangible. Because for the remainder of our lives, we will be impacted by variables outside of our control. Things will happen to us. You could get a new job, have a baby, buy a house, get robbed, or lose all of your money. Some of those are obviously a bit extreme, but they could very well happen. Yet, what’s important is being conscious of your reaction to life’s variables happening to you. You must be mindful of the way you react.


In the case of my girlfriend, she could have just come outright and said what happened. But she chose not to, and ultimately, it led to us arguing because I felt I had been transparent in similar situations with her and that it was the right thing to do. In this sense, think of the word tangible as something actionable. When life’s changes come and go through different seasons of your life, will you control your efforts in a tangible manner?


Controllability


To control our reactions better, we must understand the controllability of what we are attempting to control. As in, do you have any say in the outcome of your current problem? For example, if my supervisor doesn’t like me because we have different political views, and decides to give me a poor evaluation because of it, how can I control the situation? Well, I must look at the options. For starters, I couldn’t control him or her by forcing them not to give me a bad evaluation. I couldn’t go into their office and make them grade me excellently and write ideal remarks.

In realizing the first thing I couldn’t do, I recognized something important; I couldn’t stop my supervisor at all. If their motive was to give me a bad evaluation, then that’s what was going to happen. However, what I could control is what happened moving forward. I could go to my supervisor directly and ask them why they graded me horribly. If they struggled to come up with any solid reasoning, I know there was an ulterior motive. At this point, I can just let the situation be, which I strongly disagree with, or I can go to my human resources department and file a complaint. Workplace discrimination, even in the form of differing political views, has no place in business, let alone in determining your performance evaluation.


My point here is that we must survey and gauge the landscape of any situation before changing anything. I have to search precisely for what I can control and give my attention to it. If I think I can always control anything in every circumstance, I will only let myself down, time, and time again. Not to mention, I will give energy and time to aspects of a situation that I cannot control no matter how hard I try.


Subsequently, making it harder for me to control the actual parts of my circumstances, I have power over. Control what you can control and let go of what you can’t. Because life’s variables will happen to you, but you can regain power by weeding through different ways, you can react to them, and in the process, discovering what you can truly control.


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