Ups and downs in life are natural.
It happens in every aspect of it, whether love, work, or leisure related. During the “downs” we’ll beat ourselves up for just about anything. For things that aren’t going our way, for not living the life we envisioned, or something as simple as not meeting a goal. We’ll augment the negative aspects of each situation and “filter” out the positive. Guilty. That’s when we start to wonder how much control we have over our daily lives. We’re slapped with the sheer realization that certain things are out of our control.
We put a lot of willpower into the lives we lead and yet sometimes we feel completely helpless in our surroundings. Interestingly enough, I feel an overwhelm rush of shame when I, erroneously, think that I should always be in control of my life– after all, there are entire life mantras built on the concept of "talking control of one’s life."
But personally that feels unrealistic.
Take nature for example. We build AC systems, we tap into the power of electricity, we can control wind and water–to an extent–but once Mother Nature decides to cause some damage, it is completely out of our hands. Earthquakes, tornadoes, wild fires, tsunamis–you get the point. These are things that occur to us and no amount of control or preparation can fully shelter you from repercussions. This uncertainty is something we deal with on the daily. However, just because there are things we can’t control does not mean that we have no control. This Yin and Yang situation can be best described by two terms referred to in psychology as internal or external locus of control. Internal locus of control is the belief that “success is based upon effort”–yeah, that’s fine at the moderate level but effort only goes so far when we don’t have control. The latter occurs when we believe that all of our actions are out of our control and no matter what we do, we cannot control the outcome.
People normally fall into one of the two categories, to varying degrees, and although external locus of control can create careless individuals, internal locus of control can be detrimental to our daily lives.
I, personally, have a heightened level of internal locus of control and often suffer from the internal locus of control fallacy. Because of it, I constantly try to remind myself the following points:
- Focus on the positive: Give yourself credit for being a person who is willing to take responsibility and recognizes that effort leads to success. Appreciating these positive qualities allows you to realize that you don't need to change all aspects of the internal locus of control.
- Determine your level of control in a situation: You can't be responsible for something over which you have no control.” Too often, people inaccurately assess the degree of control they have. One way of determining this control is to ask yourself, “Even if no one else did anything, can what I do make a difference?” If not, then you don't have control.
Yes, it’s really that simple. That doesn’t mean it will make the downs go away, but it will better your perspective.
Next time something in your life isn’t going your way, before freaking out and playing the blame game (with yourself), think about the degree of control you have in that situation, it can save you quite a bit of stress!
Source: When The Need For Control Gets Out Of Control, Monica A. Frank, Ph.D
PS: I previously mentioned that I'd be experimenting with different types of paper for future months for the sake of finding "the one". This month's pieces will all be done on 8x8in, 300lb acid free watercolor, cold-pressed paper.