There are so many things in the world that we can’t control, such as the weather, and the thoughts and actions of others. But there are more things that you do have control over in your life, even if you think you don’t.
You may be in a job you hate and think you have no choice but to stay in it.
“But I can’t leave my job – if I do, I won’t be able to pay the bills”
It may not seem like it, but you are still making a choice - you are choosing financial security over financial insecurity.
It may seem a small consolation when you really dislike your job, but just that simple shift in thinking can help you be more accepting of your job and feel more in control of your life, and it can also open up different possibilities available to you, rather than leaving you feeling stuck.
One way to help you notice the (often subconscious) choices you are making in your life, is to look at the language you are using.
Pay particular attention to sentences that include ‘I have to’, ‘I need to’, ‘I must’, and ‘I should’.
These phrases tend to suggest you don’t have control - they sound like obligations rather than choices.
But do you really ‘have to’, ‘need to’ ‘must’, or ‘should’?
If so, why?
And what are the consequences if you don’t?
Some of these obligations can come from habitual thinking or the expectations of others, so it’s worth taking some time to identify where your ‘haves’, ‘needs’, musts’ and ‘shoulds’ come from, and thinking about whether they still serve you.
A simple way of identifying control and choice can come from reframing these sentences by changing the words ‘have to’ ‘need to’, ‘must’ or ‘should’, to ‘could’.
Try changing, “I need to finish writing that report tonight”
to, “I could finish writing that report tonight”
Notice how changing the wording implies choice – it allows you to weigh up the pros and cons so you get to make an informed decision on whether to finish writing the report tonight or not. You are now in control which, in itself, can help to lessen pressure and stress.
And if the guilt of letting other people down is leaving you feeling that you have no choice, take a look at my vlog, 'How to say 'no' without feeling guilty'.
Of course, there are going to be some things over which you really do have no control, but even then, you can still choose how to respond or react which can help put you more in control of your feelings.
So what choices are you going to make to take back control over your life? Let me know if the comments below, or drop me a line on my contact me page.