Have you ever warned yourself out mentally thinking about a person, situation, or change that you ultimately have no control over? Maybe a better way to phrase the question is not how, but how often! Growing through and letting go of those things that you can’t control can be challenging and cause you anxiety, and stress, and can ultimately derail your day, month, year, or life if you let it take too much of a hold on you.
Today we’ll dive into a few reminders of those things that you can not control in order to let them go and move forward in a healthy way.
As obvious as it sounds, you can’t control the past. Nevertheless, others and perhaps yourself will shackle the past to a person or relationship that can become an unbearable burden. Sometimes that may be justified; think of abusive relationships or all-around toxic relationships (Show 205). Other times, you need to move past the past so you can have a better future.
For those that hold the past against you: The other person will always have the choice and power to hold on to your past or let it go. The best that you can do is continue to show how you’ve grown and matured. Be sure to check out our recommended steps for turning around a bad reputation. (Show 174)
If you hold on to the past yourself: Freeing yourself from the past can be extremely challenging depending on the situation. I’ve talked to and coached people who have been recovering addicts, close combat veterans, people who have contemplated and survived suicidal thoughts, and others who have had a really rough path to travel. If you carry a heavy burden, get help through a professional counselor, psychiatrist, or other trusted and certified avenues to help you get back on track. Remember to give yourself some grace and don’t try too hard (Show 136)
Sometimes when we think about the past we focus on what we could have done differently. That’s good to a point. Use that reflection to grow towards the future, but to get stuck at that moment in the past is not beneficial for you or anyone else.
Other people’s actions and choices
I’ll say that this one got me for a good portion of my early leadership days. I struggled with people who I had invested in and given all the tools to be successful, but only throw those tools away and set themselves back through poor choices in both the leadership and life walk.
Giving the person the support and tools to be successful is in your control. How a person uses (or doesn’t) use the tools is totally up to them and fully out of your control. Know that you did your best and remind yourself of the work that you put in to reassure yourself when others make poor choices.
If you still have interaction with a person that falls into this scenario, be respectful and cordial in the conversation. Share your concerns if you have a level of trust with the other person, but don’t carry an expectation on yourself that you have to redeem or restore that person.
What others think or feel… especially about us.
We typically put a high value on what others think of us, even those that we have no relationship with at all. We can hyper-focus on what a person thinks of us or how they feel based on our own insecurities and need to be validated. If you find yourself consumed with thoughts about the other person, ask yourself a few questions:
- How much control do I have over the other person liking me?
- How helpful is the time spent thinking about this person?
- Does all this time and mental effort thinking about the other person add any value back to me?
If you answer no, then think about the things that you can control. What can you do to keep refining to make a better version of yourself?
People love their comfort and safety! There are few things guaranteed in life, but change is certainly one of them. Change is easy to see. Think about the you from a year ago and no doubt you can see change both good and bad that has occurred since then.
You cannot stop change, no matter how much we may want to at times. What we can control, however, is how we deal with change. Check out our tips on navigating change and conflict. (Show 295) steps to futureproof your success (Show 182)
Lean into those areas that you can control as you navigate relationships with others and as you continue to build a better you for the future.
Make a better tomorrow.