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Controlling What You Can Control

Jul 1, 2022 | Blog, Mindset

Life feels pretty out of control sometimes. For instance, staying up on current events is a good idea, but watching the news too much can certainly be stressful!

Also, there are often diseases that run in the family. That can be stressful too! 72% of Americans report feeling stressed out. Stress is common but not benign.

Stress negatively impacts the adrenal glands, which leads to symptoms such as fatigue, an inability to lose weight, hormonal imbalances, and a suppressed immune system. It can even lead to low thyroid function.

Are you feeling stressed out by just reading this? I get it. But there’s hope. You can control your stress and your health starting now!

One way you can manage stress is by controlling what you can control and letting go of what you can’t. This will empower you and give you authority over both your physical health and your emotional health.


Physical health


Your genes are NOT your destiny. You get your genes from your parents–50% from your father and 50% from your mother. However, only a portion of the genetic material is expressed. You can affect what portion of your gene is expressed by your lifestyle choices. This field is called epigenetics and it’s great news because this means you have some control over your health.

Just because your dad had heart disease, doesn’t mean you are destined to follow in his footsteps. Just because your grandmother had Alzheimer’s’ Disease, doesn’t mean that memory loss is inevitable for you too.

Prioritize your health by focusing on what you can control with your health with the five modifiable lifestyle factors. These factors, in no particular order, are diet, exercise, sleep, mindset, and relationships. Small changes in these areas can lead to big changes in your overall health when you sprinkle in the two secret ingredients: time and consistency. When it comes to your physical health, try not to waste too much time worrying about what you cannot control (your family history) and a lot more time focusing on what you can control (your lifestyle).

Isn’t this great news? Oh and one more thing. Remember, not all of your choices need to be good ones. Just more good choices than bad choices and you are in the right direction!


Emotional health


Just like your genes aren’t your destiny, circumstances in your life don’t have to be as stressful as we naturally allow them to be. Circumstances are facts that everyone would agree with. You could prove them in a court of law. There is no opinion when it comes to circumstances. For example, there are 365 days in a year, Steve Jobs and his team at Apple invented the iPhone, and Christmas is on December 25th each year.

Sometimes things seem like circumstances but they aren’t. For example, golden retrievers are the best dogs. I certainly think so, because I have one and Zipper is a great dog! But of course, that is my opinion. You may have a different breed of dog and believe that breed is better.

Another example may be “I am fat.” That is never a fact. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh. How you interpret the number on the scale is your opinion. Even if you are in an unfavorable BMI (body mass index) category, I’m sure someone else who weighs more than you would be thrilled to see the number you see on the scale today.

So the truth is our power lies in our thoughts. Our thoughts are what we THINK about the circumstances in our lives. We can’t change our circumstances. Also, we can’t control other humans. However, we can control how we choose to think about the circumstances in our lives. This takes some time and intentionality but the work behind it all is so worth it.

Most people have unsupervised minds. Human beings have approximately 60,000 thoughts per day. They don’t intentionally choose their thoughts, and that’s often what gets people into big trouble.What you think, whether consciously or unconsciously, creates the way you feel. When you think good thoughts, you experience good feelings. When you think terrible, awful thoughts, you feel awful. It’s as simple as that.

Of course, life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. There are some things in the world that you’ll inevitably feel pretty bad about because they are pretty terrible. When you are feeling bad, take a moment and reflect on what you are thinking. Then ask yourself, is this thought serving me? If the answer is no, see if you can think about it differently.

The way you feel drives your actions. Everything you do in life or don’t do is driven by the way you feel. Actions create results in life. This is all happening behind the scenes, whether you are aware of it or not. It is so empowering to be aware of this because it helps you create the life you want on purpose.


The Model


What I have just described is called The Model. Many thought leaders have mastered this concept. I learned all about The Model from Brooke Castillo, founder of The Life Coach School.

I use the model in my journal and it gives me such clarity about things that are troubling me. Here’s an example:

Circumstance: I have 15 items on my to-do list.
Thought: I have too much to do.
Feeling: Overwhelmed
Action: Jump from task to task, rush, avoid breaks, check social media and spend 30 minutes on that, not sticking with any one task long enough to complete it, work furiously exhausting myself but not accomplishing much.
Result: I still have lots to do because I’m not working effectively.

This happens automatically. However, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I could choose to pause and ask myself why? Well, of course, if I’m thinking I have too much to do, I am going to feel overwhelmed. Is there another thought that I also believe that I could choose to think instead that would create a better feeling, which would lead to more productive action and ultimately a better result?


Let me try this as an example:


Circumstance: I have 15 items on my to-do list. (Note: the exact same circumstance as before).
Thought: I will tackle them one by one.
Feeling: In control
Action: Focus on one task at a time, don’t rush, get it done, take a break, and approach the next item.
Result: I get things done one by one in a calm, efficient, and non-exhausting manner.

So what happens after that? The next day my brain defaults back to my old ways of thinking. It’s a well-worn neural pathway in my brain. Creating a new path takes a lot of effort and redirection. I’ve thought the old way my entire life. I can’t just think of a new thought once and expect it to stick.


It takes intentionality and lots and lots of practice. But if you don’t change your thinking, you’ll just keep repeating your past. If you want to create a future different from your past, you need to create new thoughts.


We are all headed somewhere. It’s my goal for myself and you to make that a conscious destination, not an unconscious default destination.

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