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Surrendering Control

“Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control.”

- Jack Kornfield

I took a bit of a hiatus from writing this summer so that I could truly unwind and unplug before things pick up in September. Taking this much needed time off reminded me of the importance of taking a break from life’s busy schedule in order to do the things that we love doing. For me, this included catching up on some reading.

This summer, I came across an article that spoke of the interesting concept of control. Essentially, author Amy Morin brings forth the notion that worrying about things that we cannot change is a bad habit that robs us of our mental strength.

I am sure that at some point in your life, you found yourself trying to micromanage a situation or refuse to delegate a task for fear that you might lose control over the outcome. Amy Morin suggests that we tend to take on these control freak tendencies to help prevent bad things from happening. We prematurely anticipate something bad happening, therefore, we worry.

The problem is, there are many things that we cannot control, but still worry about. This worrying preoccupies the mind and prevents us from truly being mindful and in the present moment.

Amy Morin provides six tips to help us stop worrying about things that we cannot control:

  • Determine what you can control: for instance, you can’t control whether or not it rains on your wedding day, but you can control your attitude towards it.

  • Focus on your influence: this entails focusing on your behaviours as opposed to trying to influence someone else’s behaviour. Amy Morin writes, “be a good role model and set healthy boundaries for yourself.”

  • Identify your fears: this tip not only includes identifying your fears, but also asking yourself the question – what would I do if my fear became a reality? Acknowledging that you can handle the worst-case scenario can be comforting and can help direct your energy into something productive.

  • Differentiate between ruminating and problem-solving: replaying catastrophic scenarios in your head is a waste of your mental strength and energy. Instead, focus on thinking productively.

  • Create a plan to manage your stress: a healthy diet, a consistent exercise routine and adequate sleep is crucial. Finding other ways to manage and relieve stress may include staying on top of your daily planner, reorganizing, and meditating.

  • Develop healthy affirmations: develop little self-talk phrases to help you in those moments of distress. For example, if it’s something that you cannot control, tell yourself this, but that you can handle the outcome.

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