There's a brutal truth about life that some people refuse to accept—you have no control over many of the things that happen to you.
People who resist this truth fall into two categories—control freaks or worry warts. Control freaks believe if they can gain enough control over others, and the situations they find themselves in, they can somehow prevent bad things from happening.
Worry warts, on the other hand, fret about everything from natural disasters to deadly diseases. It’s as if they believe thinking hard enough about all the potential worst case scenarios will somehow keep them safe.
But neither of these strategies can prevent a catastrophe. Instead, worry warts and control freaks put their time and energy into the wrong places. And ultimately, those strategies backfire and create even more stress.
Here are six ways to stop stressing about the things you can't control:
In reality, there are many things in life you have zero control over. You can’t force your spouse to change, you can’t prevent a storm from happening, and you can’t control how other people feel.
Sometimes, all you can control is your effort and your attitude. When you put your energy into the things you can control, you'll be much more effective.
Are you predicting a catastrophic outcome? Do you doubt your ability to cope with an undesirable outcome?
Usually, the worst case scenario isn't as horrible as you might imagine. But quite often, people are so busying thinking, "This is going to be a disaster," that they don't take the time to ask themselves, "What would I do if the worst case scenario came true?"
Perhaps you’d struggle for a while, but there’s a good chance you’re mentally strong enough to bounce back. Acknowledging that you can handle the worst case scenario can help you put your energy into more productive places.
You can't force things to go your way. But you can have a strong influence.
So while you can’t make your child be a good student, you can give him the tools he needs to do his best. And while you can’t force people to have fun at a party, you can create the best party atmosphere possible.
To have the most influence, however, you need to be in control of your behavior. So do your best and keep a good attitude.
When you have concerns about someone else's choices, share your opinion, but only share it once. Don't try to fix people who don't want to be fixed.
Replaying yesterday’s conversations in your head and dwelling on catastrophic outcomes isn't helpful. But solving a problem is.
So ask yourself whether you’re ruminating or problem-solving. If you are seeking solutions, keep thinking about ways to prevent problems and increase your chances of success.
If you're ruminating, however, change the channel in your brain. Acknowledge that your thoughts aren't helpful. Get involved in an activity that will distract you for a few minutes and get your brain focused on something more productive.
Whether life is going well or you’re encountering tough times, stress management strategies are key to performing at your peak. Exercising, eating healthy, participating in leisure activities and getting plenty of sleep are just a few key things you need to do to take care of yourself.
Schedule time to engage in healthy stress relievers. Whether you enjoy yoga or you want to spend time with friends, make time for those activities regardless of how busy you are.
Also, be on the lookout for unhealthy coping skills. Drinking too much, binge watching TV, and complaining may offer temporary relief, but they’ll create more problems for you over the long-term.
Scientists estimate people have about 70,000 thoughts per day. Many of those thoughts incite feelings of self-doubt, fear, and discouragement.
Keeping a few positive healthy affirmations on hand can help combat negative thinking. So whether you remind yourself, “I’m stronger than I think,” or “I can handle this,” your affirmations can help drown out the negativity.
With practice, you can train your brain to think differently. And you’ll begin to accept that while you can’t control every situation, you can control how you think, feel, and behave.