During this weird and (not so) wonderful time we find ourselves in, it can be easy to fall in disempowering thinking and behaviour that leads to thinking you’re not in control of your life.

When clients come to me, they often are at the ‘effect’ side of the cause and effect equation. They feel that life happens to them as opposed to being in the driver’s sets. They’d rather create reasons as opposed to getting results.

It’s easy during periods such as the current Coronavirus pandemic to think the World is conspiring against you. You may have personally suffered financial loss, experienced stress and anxiety over the immediate future, or witnessed those around you suffering. Whilst I’d never diminish hardships people are going through at this time, there can be a mindset that either helps or hinders finding solutions when the going gets as tough as it has been.

Ultimately the only thing you can control in the World is you – your thinking and the resulting behaviour you display. Without a doubt, Coronavirus is an unexpected curve ball that has tested us all. In the larger fabric of life, there are always going to be unexpected joys, tragedies, loves and losses – life is but a stage.

How you choose to react, including the stories you choose to tell yourself during this time all determine how you create the World around you. Is it one that you actually want to live in for any great length of time?

Whilst many things can concern us at this time, especially when hearing news from around the World, there’s only a certain amount we can influence to keep ourselves safe. Basic guidelines on social distancing, washing your hands etc. are all measures we can implement to influence our results. It’s those things we have direct control over and pretty much that’s it. It’s how you respond to what life throws at you that makes the difference between those who give themselves the best possible chance of success and those who do not.  

How you react to situations determines what you experience. If you’re having a terrible time, it’s possibly more a reflection of how you’re choosing to handle the situation rather than the situation itself. Same goes if life is currently a bed of roses. How you interact with others, react to stress, take advantage of opportunities presented or accept things the way they are in this moment, all comes down to you.

Stephen Covey in his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ talks about being ‘concerned’ by circumstances, being able to ‘influence’ aspects of life, but ultimately being able to ‘control’ only one thing – you.

Take a quick mental check when circumstances pop up and ask yourself, “is this anything I can control or directly influence in this current climate?” If the answer is “no”, move on. If you don’t, expect to get lost in a quagmire of frustration and bitterness, with everyone else seemingly at odds with you. It’s a fast track from bad to worse.

We spend an inordinate amount of time complaining at media, begrudging changing work practices at this time, blustering on political inactivity or moaning about people on the street, when most of their behaviour and actions are things we can’t even influence let alone control. It’s turning us all anxious pessimists of the highest order, which serves no one – least of all ourselves

A study conducted by the University of Bradford Management Centre found people who sought to control every aspect of their lives were more prone to insomnia, heart palpitations, high blood pressure and chronic fatigue than their more relaxed counterparts. By their very nature, ‘control freaks’ cannot be optimists.

Why do we seek to control things in the first place? It really comes down to two basic human needs – security and certainty. The problem is, we’ve created false beliefs around them. People try to create security under the belief that if they’re in the driver’s seat, all will be fine. They also try to create certainty, falsely believing that if we know what will happen in the future we don’t need to worry about anything. Wrong!

We can rid ourselves of the need to control things by doing these 5 things:

  1. Ask what you actually gain by controlling everything in your life.
  2. Consider that everything outside of our self and our own reaction to situations is out of our control.
  3. Look at things through the lens of ‘concern’, ‘influence’ or ‘control’.
  4. Analyse your physical reactions on how we take in our experiences – e.g. getting worked up reading the newspaper or watching a TV report
  5. Accept that life is never a certainty and realise we always have choice.

See how you go. This too shall pass, but it’s what we can do now for ourselves to remain safe and encourage those around us to do the same that will make all the difference.

You are in control. Stay safe.

gregsellar.com and Instagram/Facebook @gregsellar. If you are keen to learn more or have a one to session with Greg then do get in touch with Greg who can help get you through the tough times.