6 Tips to Focus on What You CAN Control

You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.”
Sophia Bush

What a year 2020 has turned out to be. As soon as I’m starting to figure things out and get ahead, a new challenge or change gets thrown into the mix. Even as a life coach focusing on helping clients build self-confidence, embrace positive thinking and successfully navigate through expected (and unexpected) transitions, I’m constantly finding myself feeling caught off guard and overwhelmed by the amount of external circumstance I cannot control.

Outwardly, it seems obvious for me to understand how to move past these barriers. But, at the bottom of the emotional roller coaster that has seemingly been the theme of this year, it’s easier said than done, which is why I’m here sharing my aha-moment insights with you! Ultimately, I have to adjust how I am looking at the challenges in my path by re-evaluating the only thing I can control – my reaction and response to what is happening.

None of these changes happened overnight. They’ve happened over the last six months. I found myself getting more and more overwhelmed by the constant changes that were showing up, when all I wanted to do was settle into the new “normal” of the pandemic and just survive. As I focused on surviving, going through the motions and coping, I was forced to let go of all the illusions of being in control. I was constantly being challenged and forced to grow, get out of my head and get out of my own way.

In the past six months I’ve come to realize I can’t control the course of life. The one thing that is guaranteed in our lives is change. It will inevitably rear its head just as things start going our way and give us a new challenge; an opportunity to grow.

So here they are; six ways I have changed my relationship with control. These exercises have helped me embrace what I can control and lovingly release all of the things that are outside of my sphere of influence.

Recognize your patterns

Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, lost, or anxious? This is your golden opportunity to notice what is triggering these feelings. For me, just as I was starting to feel “complete” around something in my life (i.e. home improvement projects, paying off debt, finding supplemental income to help build my coaching business) a new challenge seemed to pop up. In the beginning I found myself getting extremely frustrated, always feeling like I was back at square one. Then, I started recognizing the recurring pattern: I completed a goal and then something would change. I began to realize these changes were signals from the Universe that there are more opportunities for me to grow and become confident in this area. It’s an active shift to reframe the challenges. You can control your mindset.

Ask yourself: “What are my patterns? How will I process the challenges in my life more meaningfully?”

Challenge your preconceived beliefs

I believed in a life cycle that was 100% of my own creation. I “thought” there should be an ebb and flow of life: challenges present themselves, I make a goal to overcome them, I achieve the goal, rest, reset, repeat. This is not how it’s currently going in my life. The rest and reset steps continue to be left out. Challenge after challenge continues to be presented and I continue to make plans of attack, looking forward to seeing that light at the end of the tunnel. Only, when I reach the light, there’s another tunnel. I want a comfy couch at the end of the tunnel, not another tunnel. I realized that fighting myself and my preconceived beliefs was making life harder. Instead of continuing to assume that the best was yet to come, I practiced finding more balance and peace of mind in the moment. I decided to shift my perspective and let go of my attachment to an outcome. Instead, acknowledging the beauty of the present. To practice this, I start my day with yoga and meditation. Each morning I repeat this powerful affirmation to help me refocus and calm my mind: “Today is a beautiful day of opportunity. I am exactly where I need to be. I open myself to the Universe and trust in the unfolding of my life.” You can control what you believe.

Ask yourself: “What are my preconceived beliefs? How can I take my thinking to the next step?”

Attitude of gratitude

I’ve never been someone who enjoyed keeping a journal. I have obsessive/compulsive tendencies when I write which cause me to strive for perfectly written passages rather than the practice of just writing. I feel more connected to reflecting on the good things in my life when I can sit in silence and focus my thoughts. Morning yoga and meditation has helped me solidify this daily ritual of gratitude. Recently, a friend recommended an app that has helped me marry meditation and journaling – the Five Minute Journal. It’s a simple app that enables thankfulness through the practice of getting thoughts out of one’s head and onto a “page.” Gratitude journaling can help focus each day with a positive mindset. You can control your mood.

Ask yourself: “What is my daily gratitude practice?”

Evaluate your media intake

Media and news can be informative and also anxiety-inducing. I’m not encouraging us to tune out and adopt an ignorance is bliss policy. I am encouraging all of us to choose the source and amount of media we allow into our lives. As you consume information, notice how it makes you feel. Remember, you have the power to control what you subscribe to and how much of it you invite into your life. The media will always be available to you. If you notice scrolling through Facebook incites overwhelming feelings and negativity and sucks 60-minutes of your day, you can choose to re-evaluate the time you give to Facebook. I started making Sundays my “technology free” day. I don’t login to my email, social media or look at the news. It’s amazing how much time this freed up for me to do more of the things I enjoy – baking, reading, going on walks/hikes, connecting with my husband, etc. You can control how much media you intake.

Ask yourself: “How much time do I spend with the media? How else could I spend my time?”

Practice being in allowance mode

What does it mean to live in allowance? For me, it means living in flow with the rhythm of my life and the events, challenges and changes that appear – allowing what is happening, to happen. I previously subscribed to being an Enneagram (a psychological evaluation system created by the Enneagram Institute® that assigns a numerical personality type based on a series of questions) “Achiever,” which meant I live and work from a place of checklists and accomplishing goals. This year has forced me to throw that type of masculine thinking out the window as I’m continually reminded of how much is out of my sphere of “control.” Now, when I feel myself starting to emotionally spiral out of control, I recognize the feeling and look at the situation from another perspective.  I breathe and tap into my intuition by asking myself, “what do I need to do for myself in this moment to love myself more?” Ultimate game changer! Guess what? The first answer that came to mind didn’t tell me to force what wasn’t working. My intuitive self was telling me to take a step back and let go. Being in allowance around what is coming up for you isn’t about forcing something to happen. It’s about changing what’s not working (aka what you’re resisting) and feeling into a new more aligned approach.

When you feel yourself spiraling down a negative path, I invite you to ask yourself: “What is life asking me to do differently?

Wanting and needing control in an uncontrollable situation is normal and also exhausting. The key to overcoming the constant need for control, understanding what you can and can’t control, starts with improving your mindset. Practicing self-reflection with these six steps can help you on your path, ultimately connecting to your authentic and highly intuitive self. Deep down, we all have the resources to heal ourselves and heal our minds by letting go and accepting that we are imperfectly perfect.

If you need accountability and support on your self-discovery and mindset journey I am here for you. Schedule your complimentary Consultation Call and let’s create some amazing mindset shifts for you together!

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  1. Beth says:

    Just what I needed to read at this moment. Your timing is perfect and your wisdom and intuition are spot on! I’m definitely going to check in more with myself when feeling stressed and out of control. And thanks for the tip on the journal and gratitude app. I start… and then stop. I’m feeling motivated now! Thank you!!!

    • Tonia Noland says:

      You’re so welcome! I love hearing feedback like this and knowing that what I write resonates with people. Please let me know how the gratitude app and checking in with yourself work for you! Happy to create more content around this if you have any topics or suggestions.

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