Accepting what you canʼt control

Posted by Shelly Eweka.
By focusing on what you can change, you can be more serene about the things you canʼt.
I recently started school after a 20-year gap. Even though I knew the class would be challenging and I studied more than I studied for any of my undergraduate courses, I still performed poorly on the midterm. Realizing that it would cause me to receive less than an A in the course, frustration took over and I started off thinking of ways to blame the professor—as if that would solve anything.
Of course, it was a misguided attempt to wrest control from a situation that left me feeling totally powerless. A more serene approach would have served me better. These musings call to mind that now cliché quote, about accepting what you cannot change, and having the courage to change what is within your control. The trick being, you need to have attained a certain level of wisdom to know the difference between the two.
Particularly in times of economic uncertainty, focusing on the things you can control will energize you into positive action, and help prevent you from sinking into negativity.
Some examples of things ordained by fate:
  • Inflation
  • Interest rates
  • Taxation
Amid such powerful economic forces, one can easily give way to despair and paralysis.
But donʼt lose sight of your autonomy and freedom to act within those constraints:
  • Inflation: Seeing the price of goods going up can motivate you to look at your cash flow and cut down on extravagances. You also have the power to ask your boss for a raise, if annual inflationary raises are not a given.
  • Interest rates: Hikes are good for lenders and bad for borrowers: A sign, maybe, that you should borrow less or even cut your credit card in half?
  • Taxation: If property taxes are higher in the neighborhood youʼre in, suck it up and focus on what you can control, like your budget. Buying something less expensive, to offset that increased expense, lies entirely in your hands.
Accepting your own limitations is part of your journey towards serenity and wisdom. I recently embarked on a graduate program, and let me tell you, learning a new subject from scratch, mid-career, has been humbling. I have to remind myself that if Iʼm doing the best I can, thatʼs enough. Being kind to yourself is a prerequisite for self-acceptance.
So whether youʼre stuck in a traffic jam or a high-interest environment, the sooner you learn to accept your lack of control, the better. What you do have complete control over are your emotions and how you react to those forces—and therein lies immense power.
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January 12, 2017