One of the biggest struggles I have had with my anxiety is that I can’t change some things. I have no control in some situations. That is the basis of my anxiety: the feeling of being powerless. I imagine a lot of your anxiety is also based in that one little statement, to one degree or another. Part of dealing with and overcoming it is learning and accepting what you can gain control over and what you can’t.
Acceptance goes a long way in what you worry about. You see, when you truly accept that you can’t change something or someone, you are finally free to shift the way you think about the situation completely. You may not have direct control over the situation itself, but you always have some degree of control over how you react to the lack of control. The ability to do that, returns a little bit of control back to you.
If you can’t change it … change the way you think about itMary Engelbreit
With that being said, I will admit that it’s not always easy. I know, I’m always saying that. “Kay, why don’t write about something that I CAN do?” you ask. Well, I am. I never said you can’t change your mindset. It will take some dedication and work on your part. I’m telling you it’s not easy because I don’t want you to feel like I’m questioning your sanity or mine. It’s not necessarily as easy for you or me. Just because you can’t think the same way as someone else as easily as said other person, doesn’t mean you can’t do it at all. It just means you or I have some obstacles to overcome before we get to that point.
You Can’t Please Everyone
I’m starting with this one for the simple reason that it was my “Achilles heal” for so many years: SO MANY. Thankfully, my husband has helped me work through this little character flaw and my day job in the insurance industry has also helped. I have to face the fact, on a daily basis, that I can’t make everyone happy.
The fact of the matter is that some people choose to be miserable pukes. No matter how much energy you put into fixing whatever is wrong for them, they will always find something else to be upset about.
Then there are those situations where you can’t do anything about what is ruining their day. All you can do in those situations is express sympathy and move on. Letting their situation affect your mental health will only lead to more anxiety and depression.
I’m not saying don’t feel bad for others or don’t help people. I’m saying sometimes you do have to build some walls in your mind and not let just anyone in: not necessarily Fort Knox, but at least a privacy fence…and maybe a moat. Moats are cool. That’s reality, you can’t make everyone happy. So save yourself the heartache and don’t try unless you know there is something you can do to help.
You Can’t Control What People Think
Along that same line is that you can’t control how or what people think. You know how I said some people choose to be miserable? It’s an unfortunate truth. I truly hope you’re not one of those people. No one deserves that kind of self incurred pain. Nonetheless, people do it.
Opinions are another part of this. Especially this week, especially in the USA. You can’t forcibly change another persons mind; not with threats, not with sweets, not even with logic sometimes. The fact is everyone has come to their own conclusions based off of their experiences and education. No amount of yelling, screaming, convincing, anything will change their minds. They have to change their own minds.
It’s not always easy to accept this one. You’ve come up with your opinions and thought processes based on your experiences and what not. So sometimes we think if we express that knowledge, our fellow man will see “reason.” But they have their reasons too. It’s ok to have a difference in opinion. It’s not ok to force that on people around you. Give your anxiety a break and let people think what they’re going to think. Their peace of mind is not your problem. Your peace of mind is your problem.
You, Alone, Cannot Change the World
This one can be a hard pill to swallow, especially for my activist friends. I will preface this section with this: you, alone, cannot change the world, but you can still make a difference. What do I mean by this? Well, simply put, there are things above your pay grade. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about politics, economics, or anything else.
There are things you just can’t change. You can become part of a ‘movement,” sure. But in doing so, you are no longer alone. Taking the stress of the entire movement onto your own shoulders is going to do nothing but beat you into the ground. Together you can create change. You ALONE cannot.
I have struggled with this one too. Being a millennial in a burning country can feel terrible. Shoot, being anyone in a burning country can’t feel good. So I focus on the little things I can do to make a small difference. I drive a hybrid. I buy from small farms whenever possible. I thrift almost all of my clothes, and when I don’t, I buy quality pieces that will last a long time. I do the things I can to make a difference. However, I also know better than to think that my personal small changes ALONE will cause an over all change.
You Can’t Change the Past
Let’s talk about the whole picture here. You can’t change the past; not your past, not your family’s past, not your town’s past, not your country’s past, not the world’s past. You just CAN’T. No matter how small or big you look at it, there is nothing that can undo it. Sure, it can be rewritten on the surface. It can be denied by all parties involved, but that doesn’t change the face that “it” happened.
Put aside the big picture for a moment. Let’s just talk about you and your past. You can claim something traumatic never happened. You can erase all references to it in your journals, your social media, even your mind. What you can’t do, is remove it’s effect from you. You can heal, you can move on, but that traumatic experience will always have helped shape who you are, no matter what. On the other side of that coin is something good happening. That good can be take from you, the historical record of it removed, but the moment? That can’t be taken from who you are, ever.
The past HAS HAPPENED. Your “now” will continue to become your past. These are inescapable facts! All you can do at this point is make your “now” better, so that when it’s your past, you don’t regret it. Like the wise baboon Rafiki says, “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” (I don’t know if I should classify that as geek or nerd points, but points nonetheless)
You Are Only Human
Shocker, I know. Regardless of what you think about that statement though, it’s true. You and I, we’re only human. Humans have flaws. Shoot, everything has flaws. Humans with anxiety might feel like they have extra flaws. I will fail at things. You will fail at things. I will eventually (hopefully much later rather than sooner) die. Eventually, you will (hopefully much later rather than sooner) die too. We are mortal human beings, you and I. No matter what levels of mad science you reach for, it will always boil down to being human in the end.
However, there is only 1 of YOU. Don’t take that lightly. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, how many redo’s it takes, how often you feel like enough is enough, as long as you push through. There will never be another YOU or ME. Be ok with the things you can’t change. Move mountains where you can. Don’t let one road block or set back tear you down. You are the SUM of your LIFE. Live it.