Accepting what you canʼt control

Posted by Shelly Eweka on Jan 12, 2017 8:23:00 AM
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.
The TIAA group of companies does not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor. TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., and Nuveen Securities, LLC, Members FINRA and SIPC, distribute securities products.Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America has sponsored Ask the Expert posts for informational purposes only. Many of the experts are unaffiliated with Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, College Retirement Equities Fund, and their affiliates and subsidiaries (collectively TIAA), and TIAA makes no representations regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information on the posts or otherwise made available by the experts. Statements of external featured experts are solely their own and are not endorsed or recommended by TIAA.
 
Responses from experts to questions posed by Woman2Woman community members are intentionally general in nature and are not intended to give personal, financial, or specific advice. Some strategies are complex, and more information is often needed to determine the personal needs of a community member. We strongly recommend that you consult with a financial advisor before taking any action based on an expertʼs opinion or other information you obtain from the Woman2Woman:Financial Living site so that all of your personal circumstances can be taken into consideration. Participation in the site does not render the member a client of the expert or of TIAA.
This site is not designed to accept or respond to requests or complaints regarding specific TIAA accounts, products or services. If you wish to discuss an issue of that nature, please contact TIAA at 800 842-2252. TIAA is not responsible for any opinions provided by members of this site. TIAA is not responsible for the content or privacy policies of third-party sites to which you may link.
The TIAA group of companies does not offer tax or legal advice. You should consult an independent tax or legal advisor for advice based on your own particular circumstances.
The material and responses are for informational or educational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation or investment advice in connection with a distribution, transfer or rollover, a purchase or sale of securities or other investment property, or the management of securities or other investments, including the development of an investment strategy or retention of an investment manager or advisor. The material and responses do not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular individual, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made in consultation with an investorʼs personal advisor based on the investorʼs own objectives and circumstances.
Experts may not have medical or scientific training. Any information related to physical or emotional health is not intended to be used in place of a consultation with a physician.
TIAA is not responsible for the statements of community members. We may link to posts made by community members only to direct you to topics that may be of interest to you. This does not mean that we agree with the opinions of these community members. Their statements are solely their own and are not endorsed or recommended by TIAA.
 
91430