“If you can’t help it, don’t think about it.” ~ Carmel Myers, Don’t Think About It …
For the majority of us, we tend to think that our spheres of influence have no boundaries–that we can control anything and everything around us and in our lives. But the truth is that we cannot, and are not, in any such position. Many times throughout the day, things will happen to us, and around us, and we cannot help that. And when we allow ourselves to think about these things, worrying about them and stressing over them, we simply waste our time and our energy–both of which are in limited and precious supply.
I am confident that if I casually were to observe others throughout the day, I would see many of them being upset about things that are outside of their control–things such as what someone did or said the other day, or how bad their favorite team performed last night. I might even hear them complain about how expensive it was to fill their vehicle with fuel this morning, or about a recent celebrity break-up. Yet because such thoughts are completely outside our spheres of influence, dwelling on them is a waste of our time and energy.
If we have no power of something, then why focus on it at all, why let it bother us? Several years ago, someone dear to me shared some advice that has had a powerful impact on the way I think about where I spend my time and energy the most. He said, “We spend half our time thinking about things that are outside of our control. But what would our lives look like if we could direct all of our focus and energy on the things we do have control over?” This suggestion has allowed me to remain more aware of where I am allowing my focus to reside. Then, when it begins to dwell on things that I cannot help, I am better able to recognize it, and to switch my focus to those places where it truly is needed. I cannot change today’s weather, but I can dress for it. Likewise, I cannot change the mistakes of yesterday, but I can make amends for them; and I cannot change what I failed to accomplish yesterday, but I can make sure that I accomplish what I want, and need to, today.
Acceptance of what is outside of our power is key to living our lives to the fullest. Of course, some things obviously still deserve our attention, be they times of mourning and grieving or times of celebration and joy. Time spent in grieving and mourning the passing of a loved one is important for our faith, hope, healing, and peace. However, if we spend time in blame, anger, regret, remorse, or other unhealthy feelings that come from things that are outside of our control, then we are wasting time and energy. For the most part, life will continue by itself. The choice of whether or not we want to be experiencing it to the fullest–100 percent–is up to us to make each day.
Reflect on your current worries: if there is some action you can take to address them, do so; if not, let them go and focus on something else.
Questions to consider:
What kinds of things do you spend most of your time thinking about?
How do we get into the habit of thinking about things over which we have no influence at all?
How might you recognize when you are thinking about things that you cannot help, and switch your focus? What kinds of strategies might you use?
For further thought:
“There is a criterion by which you can judge whether the thoughts you are thinking and the things you are doing are right for you. That criterion is, “Have they brought you inner peace?” If they have not, there is something wrong with them–so keep trying.” ~ Peace Pilgrim