All About Control

Was anyone else shocked when they saw gas prices at the pumps this past week?  When I saw that gas stations here in London were selling gas for $1.29 a litre I almost drove off the road!  Immediately my mind went into overdrive, worrying about the sharp increase in cost and how much it was now going to cost to fill up my car’s gas tank.  Questions like “How am I going to be able to afford this?” kept going through my mind and I could actually feel my stress levels increase.  Then, of course, other worries started to put in their two cent’s worth since fear breeds fear.  What had been a nice calm day was turning into a worrisome one.

Later in the day I had a chance to think more about the situation and why I was worrying about it.  And, of course, that got me thinking about the topic of control.  I realized that most of the things I worry about are things that I have absolutely no control over.  No matter how much I worry, or fret I can’t control what the price of gas will be from day to day.  There is nothing I can do to stop it from going up, or to make it go down.  Yes, I can plan ahead and tweak my household budget so more money gets  allocated for gas, but I can’t stop the price from rising.  Only the oil companies have control over that.  So why am I worrying about it?

Thinking about this brought to mind the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

There are many things in this world that are within my control to change:  my weight, my hair colour, and how I spend my money are just a few examples.  But there are lots of things in this world that I can’t control.  For example, no matter how much I don’t want it to be true, I can’t control how other people think or feel.  I can’t control the decisions that other people make.  And I can’t control how other people act.  What I can control in these situations, though, is how I react to them.  I have full control over MY thoughts, feelings, and actions.  So instead of getting all worried about the price of gas – obviously a decision that other people have made – I can accept this situation and do something that I can control, like adjusting my household budget or riding my bike more instead of taking the car.  Like the Serenity prayer suggests, by concentrating on taking action around the things I can change, and accepting the things that I can’t, I substitute peace of mind for stress.  And, to tell the truth, I prefer peace over fear any day! 

Acceptance can be difficult.  For example, like a lot of women, I think that if I try hard enough I can change people.  How many of us have entered into a romantic relationship with the thought that the other person may not be who I’m looking for but I’m sure I can change him or her to make them fit my expectations?  And then, after months of struggle and disappointment, realize that it just wasn’t possible.  Only we have the ability to change ourselves, and we have to want to change to be successful.  In this situation, the best thing for us to do is either to accept the other person for who they are and continue the relationship, or decide not to continue with the relationship and, instead, invest our time in finding someone who is a better match.  In both cases, acceptance of something you have no control over leads to peace.

Are their things in your life that you are worrying about that are out of your control?  If there are, take a step back and look at the situation more objectively.  What would help you to accept the things about the situation that you can’t control?  What are the things about it that you can control?  Once you have identified these, take action.  This will put you on the road to a happier and healthier outlook on life.