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4 Ways to Deal with Things That Are Out of Your Control

When something bad happens, how do you cope? Do you try to control the situation or accept that some things are beyond your power? If you're like most people, you probably do both.

It's natural to fix a problem when it arises. Sometimes, no matter how much you may want to fix it, you can't. Here are four ways to deal with things that are out of your control.

1. Don't Try to Control the Uncontrollable

In today's fast-paced world, it's easy to get caught up in the things we can't control. We obsess over the weather, our jobs, and other people's opinions of us. It makes them worse.

For example, your flight is delayed because of a thunderstorm. There's nothing you can do to control the weather, so worrying about it won't make the storm go away. The same goes for your job and other people's opinions. You can't control other people's thoughts, so don't waste your time trying.

Of course, that's easier said than done. So how can you stop worrying about the things you can't govern? The next time you find yourself in this situation, try these techniques:

Accept The Things You Can't Control

First off, you need to take a step back and acknowledge that they're out of your hands. It doesn't mean you have to like the situation, but it does mean accepting that there's nothing you can do to change it. Instead, focus your energy on things you can manage, such as your reaction to the situation.

Change the Things You Can Control

There's no point in worrying about something you can't change. But if there's something you can do to improve the situation, take action. After all, the saying goes, "If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it."

For instance, if you're worried about a looming deadline at work, see if there's anything you can do to speed up the process. You could delegate some of your tasks to others or work overtime to get the job done.

Choosing your attitude in the face of adversity is always under your control. You might not be able to regulate the situation, but you can control your reaction. And taking action is often the best way to deal with stress and anxiety.

Focus on the Positive

Dwelling on the negative is most people's go-to attitude when dealing with a difficult situation. But if you want to stay calm and in control as much as possible, focus on the positive. It doesn't mean you should ignore the problem, but it does mean looking for the silver lining.

For example, if you're worried about a loved one going through a tough time, focus on the fact that they have a strong support system. Or, if you're stressed about a work project, remind yourself that it's an opportunity to learn and grow.

Focusing on the positive won't make the problem disappear, but it can help you cope healthily. It doesn't hurt to see the glass half full every once in a while. Just remember to be realistic and refrain from rose-tinting the situation.

2. Look for the Lesson in Every Situation

Whenever something terrible happens, it's natural to ask, "Why me?" Everyone tends to dwell on the negatives and believes that the universe is out to get us. However, instead of wallowing in self-pity, try to look for the lesson in every situation.

Bad things happen to everyone, but how we choose to react defines us. If we can find the silver lining in every cloud, we will be better equipped to deal with whatever life throws our way. Life is full of hardships, but how we learn and grow from those problems matters. We can become stronger and wiser by looking for the positive in every situation.

For instance, let's say you get laid off from your job. It's tough, but instead of dwelling on the negative, try to look for the lesson. It may be an opportunity to pursue your dream job or start your own business. Or it's a sign that you need to make a change in your life.

Whatever the case, try to see the situation as an opportunity to learn and grow. Here are a few techniques that can help you do so:

Look at the Bigger Picture

It's uncommon to get caught up in the details of a situation, but push yourself to look at the forest through the trees. Ask yourself, "What if I zoom out my perspective? What is the universe trying to tell me? What's the silver lining?" You can always talk to a friend or family member for perspective if you struggle with this.

Reframe Your Thinking

Instead of thinking, "This is the worst thing that's ever happened to me," try reframing it to, "I am grateful for this opportunity to..." Just be careful not to force it, gaslight yourself in the process, or make light of legitimate distress.

Write it Down

Get all your thoughts and feelings out on paper. Write down everything that's going through your head, no matter how negative it may be. Once it's all out in the open, you can start to look for the positive. Physical reminders are also helpful in this case. Try hanging up a whiteboard or Post-it notes around your house with positive affirmations.

Visualize the Outcome

Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Then, visualize the situation working out in your favor. See yourself surrounded by supportive people, conquering your fears, and achieving your goals. The more detailed you can make it, the better. It may sound like wishful thinking, but it can help you handle challenging situations.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Anger is the easiest emotion to understand and process, but it's not always the healthiest. If an uncontrollable situation dazes you, it's okay to process your feelings. Acknowledge them, sit with them, and then let them go. Don't try to bottle them up, or they'll come out in other ways. And be patient with yourself during this time.

Think Long-Term

Consider how a situation will impact you in the long run. Will it matter in a year? In five years? Don't sweat the small stuff if it's not going to make a difference down the road. Otherwise, ensure you take the necessary steps to change or influence the outcome.

3. Find an Outlet for Your Worry

Our natural inclination is to repress everything inside when we're stressed. But bottling your emotions can make things worse. Doing so will affect both your physical and mental health and can lead to problems down the road.

Instead of holding everything in, try to find an outlet for your anxiety. "Outlet" can be defined differently, but it typically refers to a method of expression or release. It's different for everyone, and there is no wrong way to do it. In fact, it may take some trial and error to find what works best for you.

Some people find solace in nature, while others may vent to a trusted friend or family member. Some people find relief in creative endeavors, like painting or writing. Others may prefer more active outlets, such as running or working out.

It doesn't matter how you do it as long as you find a way to let go of your worry. The key is to find something that's safe, works for you, and you can do it regularly.

The following are some of the most common outlets people use to deal with things that are out of their control:

  • Talking to a friend or family member
  • Writing down thoughts in a journal
  • Seeing a therapist
  • Working out
  • Running or going for a jog
  • Yoga
  • Meditating
  • Organizing or cleaning
  • Watching a movie or TV show
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Breathing exercises
  • Eating out
  • Cooking

Some people may need to combine several different outlets to manage their anxiety effectively, and that's okay. Experiment with different strategies until you find a routine or medium that gives you some relief.

But while doing all of these, remember that finding an outlet is not a cure-all for anxiety. It's simply a coping mechanism to help you healthily deal with stress. If you find that your uneasiness is still negatively impacting your life, it's always best to seek professional help.

4. Give Yourself a Break

Finally, if you're feeling overwhelmed, take a break. Step away from the situation and clear your head. You can't pour from an empty cup, so focus on caring for yourself if you feel exhausted or burnt out. Otherwise, you'll quickly find yourself in a downward spiral. 

Doing so doesn't mean you're giving up or running away. Instead, you're simply giving yourself some time to regroup. It can help you return to the situation with a clear head and a fresh perspective and make better decisions. 

Remember, you don't have to do everything at once. Prioritize what's most essential and take things one step at a time. If you need to, break down your goals into smaller, more manageable pieces. And don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Here are some ways to take a break:

  • Go for a walk
  • Take a nap
  • Read a book
  • Watch a movie
  • Talk to a friend
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Pause from looking at your phone or computer screens

It's also helpful to set a time limit for your hiatus. That way, you don't get too comfortable and avoid the problem altogether. Once your time is up, return to the situation with fresh eyes.

Bonus Tip: Seek Professional Help

If you find that the things you can't control and your attitude towards them significantly impact your day-to-day life, it may be time to seek professional help.

A therapist can help you understand and manage your anxiety healthily. They can also provide tools and resources to help you deal with stressful situations. Many online directories can help you find a therapist if you need help figuring out where to start. The following are some to consider:

These steps are only a starting point. If you're struggling with anxiety, remember that you don't have to go through it alone.

What You Should Avoid Doing

While there are many things you can do to deal with the uncontrollable, there are also some things you should avoid. The following are a few of the most common:

Don't Take Things Personally 

When you take things personally, you are giving away your power. You are saying that what others think and do is more important than what you think and do. You are also saying that you cannot control your own life and happiness, so you might as well let others handle it.

Don't Resist Change

Change is inevitable whether we like it or not. We can control how we react to change. If we fight change, we will end up frustrated and dissatisfied. We should flow with the changes and let them happen naturally.

Don't Make Assumptions

Making assumptions is a surefire way to create problems. When we assume things, we are often wrong. And even when we are right, we can still create problems by acting on our speculations. It's always best to check things out and get the facts before we presume anything.

Don't Sacrifice Your Happiness

It's necessary to find a balance between taking care of the things we have to and taking care of ourselves. Handling things beyond our power can be challenging. However, we should always safeguard our happiness because we will only end up disappointed and unfulfilled if we don't.

Final Thoughts

The things we can't control will always be a part of our lives. But we don't have to let them control us. By following the tips in this article, we can learn to deal with the uncontrollable and live happier, more fulfilling lives.

If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, get in touch with Jackson House. Our expert team can help you understand and manage your stress healthily. We also provide tools and resources to help you deal with stressful situations. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

About the author

Jackson House

Jackson House

We built Jackson House because we realized there was a critical gap in our healthcare system and many individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems were struggling because of it. While there are many outpatient treatment options and locked, inpatient facilities there was nothing in the middle. Nothing to help people who needed around the clock care but wanted to receive treatment voluntarily, on their own terms. Jackson House is different. We provide clients with the level of care they need in a welcoming environment. When you walk through our doors, we will meet you wherever you’re at and help you on your journey toward feeling better.

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