Accepting What We Cannot Control

By Jimmy Warden

Origins

Accepting what we cannot control is an idea that has been around for thousands of years that was originated by the Stoic Epictetus. It is timeless wisdom because it is something that people still talk about, and try to use, to this very day.

Challenges

The main reason why it is so challenging to put this idea into play is because of the enormous number of things in our lives that we can’t control. Not only that, but we desire to have control every aspect of our lives because control helps us feel confident and content with our ability to handle life’s challenges.

However, if we can accept there are a lot of things that we cannot control in our lives, we’ll reap a few valuable benefits.

Benefits

The main benefit is lower stress levels. Stress can come in many forms, but trying to minimize or eliminate stressors from our lives is always positive.

Another benefit is less mental chatter. Mental chatter is thoughts that pester us and tend to take over our internal dialogue, which can eventually manifest into our actions. When we accept what we can’t control, we won’t be worried about those items, so we won’t feel the need to think about them or stress over them.

There will also be improved moods and demeanors. Because we’ll have less stress, that frees up more opportunities to find joy and peace in our lives.

Creating the Shift

One way to shift our thinking towards acceptance of what we can’t control is to become realistic about who we are. If we have our dreams set on achieving something that’s unrealistic, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. For example, I shouldn’t have a dream of becoming a professional basketball player at this point in my life. Despite my love for playing basketball, becoming professional at age twenty-eight is not very realistic. I can’t control the fact that I have to improve my skills a tremendous amount. That’s just the reality of the talent discrepancy between professionals and me. It would take years of dedication to improving my basketball skills to come somewhat close to a professional level. As for becoming an NBA or Euroleague talent, forget about it. So understanding ourselves better is a good start.

Another way to become more accepting is to think about what we can’t control. This seems obvious, but it’s something we rarely do. Perhaps, we feel like we have more important ideas to focus on. Perhaps, we get too overwhelmed at thinking about all of the things that aren’t in our control, so we don’t even bother. Whatever it may be, it is still crucial to consider what we can’t control, so we can begin to wrap our heads around that fact to achieve more peace of mind. Not only that, but we can’t be aware of what we can’t control until we think about it.

Questions to Ponder

So, what in your life can’t you control? What will you try to do to worry less about them?

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