— Trying to control things outside our control
I’m always a bit skeptical about people who separate the world into definitive categories: “There are 10 Types of People”, “4 Types of Boss”, “26 Types of Salad Dressing”, etc. but there is one separation that I have come to believe wholeheartedly.
That is, that there are two types of things in this world:
Those you can control, and those you cannot.
Simple concept, seems a bit of a nothing “don’t worry about it” or “she’ll be ‘right” if you’re Australian. But it’s more than that. It’s an idea that resonates with our place in this world and touches on some really fundamental and undeniable truths that all of us share. How we recognise which situations, events, people and ‘things’ we can control versus cannot control, directly influences how we act and think.
There is a profound analogy that I heard a very long time ago and it only recently rang true for me (as do all sayings). It is an image of me, you and everyone else as captains on our own sail boat.
Boats can float together on the same water and in the same wind but boats can also move at different speeds and in different directions. In this analogy, life, with all its wonderful experiences, twists and turns, is the wind. That same wind blows on all of us, so how come everyone’s life looks different?
The final piece is the sail.
The setting of the sail determines the direction and course of our movements, thus determining where we go and how we get there.
You cannot control the wind, but you can control your sail.
Cliches are so..
I used to distrust metaphors like this as being clichéd and simplistic, but that distrust itself was a result of my own sail setting. I chose to see the world as infinitely complex and took clichéd sayings to be over-simplified “chicken-soup” that made people feel a little warm but lacked the depth required in an ‘absolute truth’.
I guess I missed the point a little bit.
The reason this metaphor exists at all is not because it is ‘true’, that’s completely irrelevant. It exists because some people choose to see the world in this way and that’s it. Whether it’s a good or bad way to picture the world just doesn’t matter, it’s just a concept explained in visualisable terms.
By definition, it is impossible to control things you cannot control.
For example, you cannot control:
— What other people do, say, feel or think;
— Where and how you were born;
— The weather;
But you can control:
— Your actions;
— Your words;
— Your thoughts;
— How you spend your time;
— The influence you allow other people to have over you;
Realising what you can and cannot control is actually a lot harder than it seems, it requires stepping back, thinking objectively and letting go. Those three things seem easy enough in normal circumstances but become incredibly difficult when you’re tired and under pressure.
Try giving yourself a break and focusing on what you can control.
Good luck on your 2020 journey, it’s going to be a wild one!