The idea of having control can be exciting and empowering, but a lot of us will choose control only when it is convenient for our ego. We love to be the decision maker and frequently call ourselves “control-freaks,” but when something occurs that is out of our control we become fixated on it. We will put all of our focus on blaming someone or something, and because we can’t control that one aspect of the situation, we give up all control surrounding the event or circumstance.
Controlling the uncontrollable
I used to do the same thing; I loved to be in control of my training sessions and be involved when my coach planned my season competitions. I wanted to feel like I had control over my destiny, but whenever I had a bad race or didn’t perform to the level, I thought I should it was ALWAYS my coaches fault.
“He (my coach) didn’t believe in me, so I performed poorly,” was a frequent thought I let wreak havoc in my mind. “He (my coach) doesn’t care how I feel; he wants to mess with my head and make me quit,” was another one I remember vividly saying after being somewhat scolded for not adapting quickly enough to a higher volume of training.
These limiting and negative thought patterns completely gave away any of my control over the situation. They focused only on the uncontrollable; what I assumed my coach thought of me, rather than on what I could control; my focus and thoughts.
Take back your power
So, someone doesn’t believe in you. It’s not the greatest situation to be in, but the reality is that the only person whose belief matters is you. The beliefs and thoughts of others are ultimately out of your control, so instead focus on what you can control; your thoughts, feelings and actions.
Having control can be scary because the only person to blame for failure is you. Taking control is also incredibly empowering because you don’t have to rely on anyone else but yourself. Blaming others is a lot like chewing cheap dollar store gum, it tastes good at first, but very quickly all of the flavour leaves and you are left with a sticky and unsatisfying situation.
When reflecting on an obstacle or adverse outcome, think about what you can control in the situation. When you start to blame others, refocus and think about what you can do to move forward, learn and grow. Failure is a gift; it teaches us some of the most valuable lessons we can learn in life. Fearing failure is a healthy and human reaction, but you have the power to change your thinking. When we turn our thinking to focus on what we can control, take ownership of our thoughts and our reactions, we empower ourselves to achieve things we never thought possible.
An Exercise in Control
A great exercise to start taking back your power is a reflection, write out one or two circumstances in the past where you focused on the uncontrollable. There is no shame or judgement here, recognize when you have previously blamed someone or something else. After you’ve taken a moment to reflect, write out what you could have thought or done that was within your control. If you start to beat yourself up over the past, you might as well stick that gross cheap gum back in your mouth. There is no point in engaging in self-judgment, you can’t change it so you might as well own it.
Ditch the blame, and practice catching yourself whenever you start to give away your control. Over time, you’ll train yourself to let go of those limiting thoughts and take control of your experiences. You will open yourself up to options, possibilities and opportunities you never thought possible because you’ve widened your focus to growth, rather than shrinking it to blame.