Some of life is under our control. But much of it is not. We can’t control who our parents are. We cannot control our past. We cannot control contracting an illness, or bringing back someone that we have lost.
Many of us spend time and a large amount of mental energy preoccupied with things they have no control over. That constant worry and stress is both unproductive and a detriment to your mental health. When you can accept the parts of reality you cannot control, you free up your focus to make a greater impact on the areas of life you can change.
Accepting Reality and Letting Go of the Inevitable
There’s a common phrase that goes “serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Unfortunately, accepting what you cannot change is often not easy, particularly if you are already in the habit of worrying over those things. You can guide yourself towards accepting reality and dealing with it by:
- Determining What Actions You Can Take Now – You may have no say in a larger event, or you are worrying about something that will happen in the future. Ask yourself if there are any immediate actions you can do to impact the outcome. Do what you can, otherwise recognize that there is no point to worrying.
- Getting Comfortable Being Uncertain – Understanding that we cannot change reality can leave us feeling out of control and uncertain about the future. This is why we often turn to worry and catastrophizing since it can feel more active. Accepting that you will feel uncertain or scared and that it is alright to sit with those feelings can make it easy to embrace reality.
- Forgiving Yourself – If you are preoccupied with the past or how things might have been had you made a different choice, forgiving yourself for past mistakes makes room for you to come to terms with how things are now and avoid similar mistakes in the future.
- Consider Your Values – Having a firm understanding of your values can guide you in moments where you have limited control or are uncertain about the next steps. Your values can help you determine where to direct your energy towards small actions in a larger, uncontrollable situation.
With only a set amount of mental energy to dedicate to all of the various concerns in your life, determining where that mental energy would be wasted lets you devote that energy to positive change, things that align with your values, hobbies, and recovering from any setbacks you could not have controlled.
Consistent application of this philosophy will lead you to feel more positive and make you more resilient when certain events do not go the way you wanted them to.