When we are continually bombarded with threats to our well being and unexpected situations, we either ‘fight’ or ‘flee’. These are the 2 natural responses. We may improvise in the very beginning, but over time, the heighten ‘fight’ or ‘flee’ response, will have us exhausted and burned out. And before we know it, we may end up feeling lost, and losing grips with how to handle each wave that comes our way.
The good news is, psychology says we can take back control, no matter how chaotic we feel inside and how out of control our world may seem.
Taking back control has always been a choice.
It all starts with perspective. And awakening to the realisation that you cannot control anything beyond yourself. Attempting to control the free will of others, natural order of situations will only result in regret. However, you can control yourself. You can decide how you want to to react to situations. You can choose to set realistic or unrealistic goals for yourself.
And it all starts with questioning your current perspective. Are you seeing the world, situations and yourself as they truly are, or are you seeing them through tainted lens? And perhaps it’s time to remove or change those lens.
There are many coping strategies out there. Listed below are some that have helped me through the highs and lows of life. Should they come in handy for anyone.
Think in Timelines
Thinking in timelines give additional meaning and perspective to situations. For instance, start by asking yourself these questions.
- Is this really the most challenging situation I have had to cope with to-date? Have I mentally been through worst?
- Today is the present, but for tomorrow, today is history. Nothing is permanent. No matter how bad things get (or how good for that matter), it is temporary. Life is fluid and opportunity has yet to present itself.
- If I do 5 of so and so tasks today, that would be 10 of the same in 2 days, and 150 in 1 month. What I do today matters, no matter how small.
Redefine Your Definition of Certain Words
For some, happy may mean new shoes, while for others happy means getting 3 full meals that day. So what does the word ‘happy’ mean for you. You have the power to redefine those terms with regards to what they mean to you personally.
Start with re-defining some of these words. Write them out and see what you come up with:
- Life goal
Try removing your work role, professional job title, your social standing, the adjectives your friends and family have given you, whether it’s firstborn, or the jester of the group.
Strip it all away, and you are a single breathing organism in the vast universe; but a spec of dust. That’s what a single human is, as defined by the universe.
Whether this spec of dust makes it across the ocean, falls over a cliff, makes it up the Himalayas or is buried under layers of mud has little meaning to the grander scheme of things. With this thought in mind, now ask yourself these questions:
- How much should the judgement of others affect me?
- If I spend less than 1% of my time thinking about the life of Mr/Ms A. With that same logic, why would I think that lots of Mr/Ms A’s time is allocated to observing my success and failures, and commenting on them?
- How much percent of a person’s time do you think is allocated to thinking of things unrelated to themselves?
- Who are the three people my wins and loses would matter to?
- If I make mistakes; if I tried and I failed. Does it matter to the universe? Who do my mistakes matter the most to? (my success as well)
Every situation, no matter how bleak, always has a silver lining. And only with gratitude can we see it. In other words, it’s about reminding yourself to count your blessings, no matter how small. And being thankful that you continue to have those blessings.
Small changes in our perspective allow us to take back the sense of control over ourselves. It is only if we tell ourselves we have lost control, that we may really do so.
Give words and things new meaning, notice the small blessings and you will realise that you never really did lose control. If you’re choosing what time you’re going to bed tonight. If you’re choosing the menu for you next meal. If you’re choosing not to give up, or you’re choosing to re-think and re-define your values, then ‘you are in control’.