Welcome to July, folks! May I just say how excited I am that summer is officially upon us? Aside from the obvious perks that accompany this time of year, such as the weather and increasing opportunities to barbeque, it also signals the end of the K-12 school year!
My partner is a teacher, you see, and the month of June can be a tense one in our house. July arrives with a tremendous sigh of relief and relaxation that lasts for precisely 5.5 weeks, until preparations for September begin again.
On the last day of classes this year, my partner came home exhausted. It was grad prank day at school. This year, it involved furniture redecoration, lipstick portraits on the walls, fire alarms, water balloons, eggs, and exasperation! Needless to say my partner was tired and frustrated. In doing my best to play the role of empathetic supporter/cheerleader, I shared some recent thoughts I had been having about our understanding of control, and how a perceived lack of control can lead to some pretty complicated emotions.
Control is a funny thing. I say funny because it seems that in order to gain control, we must first learn to let it go.
It has been a process for me over the years to learn how unproductive it is to expend time and energy being angry and upset by situations I never had a hope of controlling in the first place.
So, what can we control? The short answer is: Ourselves. We have absolute control over our own behaviour, reactions, attitude and mindset. I love the diagram below because I feel it represents these ideas in such a clear way. There are things in life that matter. There are things in life that we have actual control over. Where these two circles overlap, is where we need to focus our energies.
Easier said than done.
How do we make this happen?
|Example: An increasing workload due to the vacation schedules of colleagues.|
|Emotions: Frustration, stress, anxiety, anger, resentment, hopelessness, excitement|
|Things that matter to me:
|Things I cannot control:
||Things I can control:
By focusing on the things that really matter to us and the things that can control, we train our brains to approach situations differently. We take ownership of a challenge and jump back in the driver’s seat with full control.
This month, if you find yourself becoming angry or frustrated with someone or something, I invite you to stop and take a pause. Are you expending your energy on something that is outside of your realm of control? If so, identify one or two things you can control, and start there. You might just find yourself with a brand new outlook and a fresh start to the day.
Enjoy the sunshine!
All my best,