Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Letting go of things you can’t control

Throughout life, everyone experiences events and situations that are way out of their control. But it’s how we react to the hand that has been dealt to us that determines how it affects us.

Too often we don't recognise when we're swimming against the tide and spend too much of our precious time and energy battling against a situation that is out of our control. This can be extremely exhausting and also damaging to our mental and physical wellbeing. So, it’s important that we recognise the types of things that drain our energy.

If we continue to let uncontrollable situations control us, over time the ongoing stress and anxiety can cause more serious mental and physical health problems. Our bodies don’t react well to continuous stress and when we become run down, our immune system is weakened, and we are more susceptible to illnesses.

Things we can’t control and should let go of

You might be wondering how to distinguish between what you can and can’t control, so here are a few examples of what you should try not to focus on too much:

  • The past – the best way to deal with the past is by not regretting anything as it is too late to change it, so try and learn from it and put the knowledge from your experience to better use in the future.
  • Mean people – everyone is responsible for themselves and unfortunately, the majority of the time, we are unable to change other people’s behaviour. The best way to deal with mean, unkind people that drain your energy is to avoid them whenever possible. Devote your energy to people who are worthy of your time and energy.
  • Stop predicting the future – although we do have some control over the future, we can’t always predict it. So, worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet means that you might suffer twice.
  • Natural disasters – Again, we have absolutely no control over natural disasters. There may be certain measures that you can put in place to minimise the damage caused (if you feel there is a real chance of a natural disaster occurring), but generally, you should try not to worry about events that haven’t yet occurred. 

How do we let go?

If there is something in particular that is bothering you and making you anxious or stressed, make a list of the things that are causing you concern. Decide exactly which things you feel you have no control of and which you can control.

There are lots of meditation and mindfulness exercises that can help you with the process of letting go. Research studies have shown that practising mindfulness can have a positive effect on anxiety. Visualisation exercises can also be very useful. Ultimately, it’s how we respond to situations that’s really important. Think of specific times in your life when you were in control. Ask yourself why you were in control, how did you deal with the situation, and how did you feel at the time? By visualising the details, it will help you to understand how to feel in control again.

Worrying prevents us from experiencing the positives in the here and now so it’s important that we learn to switch off. Although life is ever changing and often out of our control, if we start to focus more on the present and recognise the difference between “I can’t” and “I won’t”, we will soon start to become better equipped to let go.

Ways to stop worrying about things we can’t control

  1. Try to stop second guessing people’s thoughts
  2. Practise mindfulness and learn to live in the present moment
  3. Restrict your use of social media
  4. Practise meditation
  5. Write down your worries 
  6. Change your focus

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