How to Stop Worrying About Things You Cannot Control

Posted on May 12, 2017

Photo: flickr

It may be a harsh truth to accept, but it is the truth nonetheless – there are many things in life that are out of our sphere of control. Those of us who stubbornly resist this truth may end up refusing to delegate tasks to others, micromanaging or forcing others to change. These people are of the opinion that if they are able to gain enough control over others, they will then be able to stop bad things from taking place.

Another group of people is aware that they are unable to prevent bad things from happening, but they stress themselves out over the possibility of these things happening anyway. This causes them to worry about everything from deadly pandemics to natural disasters. While these stressors keep them occupied, they are ultimately immense time and energy wasters.

If you think that you belong to either of these categories, here are six ways for you to stop worrying about things you cannot control:

1. Determine what is within your control
When you find yourself fretting over something, take the time to think about what you do have control over. While you cannot prevent bad things from happening, you can prepare yourself before they take place. Similarly, you may not be able to control the way someone behaves, but you can control your reactions to his or her actions.

It is important to know that at times, all that is within your control is your effort and attitude. In other words, think about how you can approach the situation. When you devote time to the things you can control, you will be a lot more effective in preventing yourself from worrying unnecessarily.

2. Focus on how much influence you have
All of us have the capacity to influence others, as well as circumstances, to a certain extent. However, you cannot force things to go your way just because you want them to. In other words, while you can provide a child with all the resources, tuition and enrichment classes to obtain good grades, this does not mean that you can make the child get full marks on a test. Even though you can organise a good party, you are unable to make people enjoy themselves.

Hence, to have the most positive influence, it is important to concentrate on changing your own behaviour, to be a good role model to others and to know when to draw the line. For instance, you may be concerned about a friend’s choices, but do not try to jump the gun and fix those who do not wish to be fixed. Just share your opinion with that friend.

3. Identify your fears
Think deeply about what you are afraid might happen. What are the worst-case scenarios in your mind? Are you predicting a horrible outcome, or do you doubt your ability to deal with disappointment? Most of the time, the actual scenario is not as tragic as it is often dramatized to be.
However, some are so busy saying that they do not want bad things to happen that they fail to consider their subsequent courses of action should the bad things do take place. You have to acknowledge that you are stronger than you think, and that you can take things in stride. This will then enable you to put your energy into doing more productive things.

4. Know the difference between ruminating and problem-solving
There is a striking difference between ruminating and problem-solving. Just rewinding and replaying conversations or thinking of all the bad things that could happen is not helpful at all, but problem-solving is.
One way to discern between the two is to ask yourself whether you are thinking productively. If you are actively taking steps to solve a problem, keep at it. Try to search for ways to increase your chances of success.

However, if you know that you are ruminating, try to think about something completely different. Know and admit that your thoughts are not productive. Turn your attention towards something more productive by getting up and doing something else for several minutes.

5. Manage your stress by creating a plan
Take good care of yourself by exercising regularly, maintaining good eating habits and getting ample amounts of sleep. In a way, this allows you to set aside time to manage your stress, so that you can then function more effectively.

Turn to healthy ways of relieving stress, such as doing yoga, picking up a new hobby or meeting up with loved ones. Take note of what works for you and what does not. Try to eliminate coping habits that do not work for you, or that are unhealthy, such as compulsive drinking.

6. Develop healthy affirmations
You can think of little phrases that motivate you or that remind you that you are in control of the way you act. For instance, when you find yourself thinking about something that is out of your control, tell yourself: “I can handle it.” Use these phrases to remind yourself to make things happen, and to deal with the things that are out of your control. These will keep you mentally strong, as well as help you to tackle your self-doubt, doomsday predictions and repetitive overthinking.

Category(s):Control Issues, Self-Care / Self Compassion

Source material from Psychology Today